Information Systems Research that Makes a Difference: A Modest Proposal

I will be speaking at SDA Bocconi School of Management on March 7, 2017. Thanks to Ferdinando Pennarola, Department of Management and Technology, for hosting the visit.

Information Systems Research that Makes a Difference: A Modest Proposal

I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature (business, engineering, public policy, etc.). Research done with the sole intention of producing a journal article or conference paper is not good enough. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. Studying complex phenomenon requires us to undertake research that (1) draws on multiple disciplines, (2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, (3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and (4) communicates to a diverse set of audiences. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset, beginning with the inception of ideas, and then continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrowly focused research exercises.

In this talk, I will offer personal reflections on how to structure research programs to maximize several goals. First, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the research process. Second, to maximize the potential that research outputs will be accepted by scholarly and practitioner communities. Third, to work with stakeholders to leverage the knowledge that is generated, to advance societal outcomes. I will share examples from a wide range of projects to elaborate on how scholars can build agile, responsive, and responsible research projects that have relevance beyond the ivory tower.

I will present a method (process) for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. Illustrative examples of research projects will be used to exemplify this process and outline strategies for researchers to consider when conducting inter-disciplinary research projects. I will pay particular attention to global research projects that are interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to sharing lessons about what works, I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way.

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