If we build it, will they come? the cultural challenges of cyberinfrastructure development

Thomas A. Finholt, Jeremy P. Birnholtz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


In this chapter, we show how Hofstede's cultural constructs help explain the dysfunction we observed in the early history of the George E. Brown, Jr., Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a large-scale deployment of cyberinfrastructure intended to link 16 experimental facilities around the United States. The NEES project involved participants from three distinct professional cultures: civil engineering, computer science, and program managers at the U.S. National Science Foundation. Using Hofestede's categories, we demonstrate how mis communication arose from orthogonal orientations on Hofstede's dimensions. In particular, we found that variation in attitudes toward risk led to conflict, with the more risk-averse civil engineers and program managers frequently aligned against the more risk-tolerant computer scientists. In the discussion, we consider successful techniques for accommodating differences in professional cultures and offer a set of lessons learned based on experience with the NEES project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationManaging Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno Innovations
Subtitle of host publicationConverging Technologies in Society
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)1402041063, 9781402041068
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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