Enhancing understandability of process models through cultural-dependent color adjustments

Kummer, Tyge-F., Recker, Jan, & Mendling, Jan (2016) Enhancing understandability of process models through cultural-dependent color adjustments. Decision Support Systems, 87, pp. 1-12.

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National culture influences natural language communication. Yet, semi-formal or documented communication media such as process models have largely ignored these influences. In process models, secondary notation elements such as colors, however, provides designers with visual cues to potentially increase the efficiency and effectiveness without changing the semantics of the model itself. We propose that colors are a promising mechanism in tailoring process models to meet cultural preferences in order to enhance understandability. We test this assumption through an experiment with postgraduate students from a Confucian culture (China) and a Germanic Culture (Germany and Austria). Past research has shown that people understand such models better if important elements are highlighted through colors. We hypothesize that this general design principle only works if the applied color schemes match cultural preferences while mismatches can even diminish the level of understanding. Our results show that colors that are preferred in Asian cultures aid process model understandability of Confucian participants. In contrast, diverse effects occur if models with these colors are provided to members of a Germanic culture. Based on our findings, we derive implications for the culturally appropriate presentation of conceptual process models and we emphasize a need to construct modeling studies with cultural values and norms in mind.

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ID Code: 96256
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Process modeling, Cross-cultural, Quasi-experiment, Design, Secondary notation
DOI: 10.1016/j.dss.2016.04.004
ISSN: 0167-9236
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > INFORMATION SYSTEMS (080600) > Conceptual Modelling (080603)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Business Information Systems (150302)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V.
Deposited On: 19 Jun 2016 22:49
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 06:00

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