Cultural, National, and Industry-Level Differences in B2B Web Site Design and Content

Jean-Claude Usunier, Nicolas Roulin, and Björn Sven Ivens
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 14 Number 2, Winter 2009-10, pp. 41.

Abstract: Web sites are a major instrument for companies to transmit information to customers and conduct transactions in business markets. Differences in Web site design and content across companies can be explained by cultural factors (mainly high- or low-context communication, individualism, and power distance), characteristics of a company’s home country, and corporate demographics. Based on a review of recent studies, mostly in B2C settings, this paper summarizes what is known about the impact of cultural dimensions on Web site design and content. Content analysis of 600 B2B Web sites in 57 countries confirms the interrelatedness of certain antecedent variables with Web site design and content. Some cultural orientations, especially high-context communication, may be detrimental to the design of Web sites, making them less clear, less attractive, and less interactive. Companies in countries characterized either by high-context communication, collectivism, or high power distance should strive for cultural adaptation of Web sites. Firm size and R&D intensity also have an impact on Web site design and content.

Key Words and Phrases
: Business-to-business, communication, content analysis, country of origin, culture, Web sites.