Agile and generic work values of British vs Indian IT workers: a culture-clash case

Carla A.J. Bastiaansen*, Celeste P.M. Wilderom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: After deciding to become agile, many information technology (IT) units struggle; they underestimate the needed managerial expertise to alter their current culture toward an agile one, particularly when cross-cultural (f)actors are involved. Given that work values are the key to an organizational culture, the study derived a set of agile work values of culturally diverse IT professionals together with a set of well-known generic work values. Consequently, the authors illustrate that managers in charge of the transition to an effective agile culture must pay serious attention to the specific value constellations of its often highly diverse workforce. Design/methodology/approach: A literature review resulted in an initial list of agile work values. Then, mainly through a Delphi round, 12 agile-specific work values were established. These were survey rated, along with the validated set of 18 generic work values, by 102 British and Indian IT professionals in a digital service and consulting firm that was requested by its client to become agile. The observations made in 14 feedback group-interview-type dialogs enriched the surveyed data further. Findings: In the current exploratory study, four generic value dimensions were complemented by two agile-specific ones: team communication and shared responsibility. Among the British and Indian (on-site and offshore) workers, only 2 of the 30 current work values were shared while 7 significant value differences were found, explaining the noted employee bitterness, productivity losses and client disengagement. This situation was reflected in the many discrepancies between the professionals' ideal agile way of working and how their unit was currently functioning. Originality/value: The multi-method study shows an over-optimistic approach to becoming agile in a common cross-cultural context; insights are gained on how to optimize agile ways of organizing IT work when British IT workers collaborate with Indian IT workers. It may benefit many agile practitioners and managers working with(in) cross-culturally mixed and partly remote teams.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of strategy and management
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2021


  • Agile culture
  • Agile transformation
  • Agile work values
  • British and Indian IT employees
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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