I will be traveling to Vienna (Nov16-19) to moderate a panel at the Hidden Champions in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Dynamically Changing Environments. The focus of the panel will be on designing collaborative alliances for sustainable innovation. I will share results from two of my prior project, I4I (Ideas for Innovation) and Intraprenuership. This conference is hosted by CEEMAN (Central and East European Management Development Association) and IEDC-Bled School of Management and in cooperation with RABE-Russian Association of Business Education and Polish Association of Management Education FORUM. The event will take place at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber congress center.
Maggie Cowell (Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, School of Public and International Affairs) and I have received a seed grant ($20,000) from the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) at Virginia Tech for our project “Resilience of Citizen Engagement to Local Disasters: Studying the Emergence and Dissolution of Community Networks.” This project will be housed at the Metropolitan Institute.
The goal of this research project is to study how citizens coalesce into responsive communities, make an impact, and then dissolve during and after a disaster. This research will bring into light locally significant disasters that do not earn national headlines and where the local community turns to their own resources to respond. Too often these local disasters and citizen responses are not studied but they are vital to deepening of our understanding of community resilience and the dynamics of citizen engagement. We will uncover the dynamics of community emergence in response to a disaster. Questions considered will include: who organizes citizens into a community, how, and why? How do they respond to the disaster? How is technology, especially social media, mobilized for community organization and relief operations? And finally, what leads to the disbanding of these communities and is there any institutional memory preserved? Consisting of a series of in-depth case studies, made up of first-person accounts and interviews together with a review of secondary sources, the research will look at three stages of a spontaneous community response: the assemblage; the action and impact; and the dissolution of the community. We will study how these emergent communities use technology creatively in the various stages of the community formation as a catalyst to overcome the lack of formal response mechanisms or response planning.
This project will provide valuable insights for citizen activists, planners, and policy makers on the functions and impacts of community response and improve our understanding of citizen engagement. Understanding the emergence, and impacts of local community response can inform the efficiency of more widespread responses. We will construct a web-based platform to share results from the research project (including video interviews with citizens, case studies, and community planning tools). In addition, the web-based platform will support networking and community building among citizens who are interested in building resilient community networks.
- “Resilience of Citizen Engagement to Local Disasters: Studying the Emergence and Dissolution of Community Networks,” Institute for Society, Culture and Environment @ Virginia Tech, 2011, (PI) (co-PIL Margaret M. Cowell) ($20,000)
I have a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. The paper is titled, "Contextualizing Organizational Interventions of Knowledge Management Systems: A Design Science Perspective," and is co-authored with Peter Baloh (BISOL and IEDC Bled School of Management) and Raymond A. Hackney (Brunel University). This paper is based on Peter Baloh's dissertation. I served as chair of Peter's dissertation committee.
The research in this paper addresses how individuals’ (workers) knowledge needs influence the design of knowledge management systems (KMS) enabling knowledge creation and utilization. It is evident that KMS technologies and activities are indiscriminately deployed in most organizations with little regard to the actual context of their adoption. Moreover, it is apparent that the extant literature pertaining to knowledge management projects is frequently deficient in identifying the variety of factors indicative for successful KMS. This presents an obvious business practice and research gap which requires a critical analysis of the necessary intervention that will actually improve how workers can leverage and form organization-wide knowledge. Our research involved an extensive review of the literature, and rigorous data collection and synthesis through an empirical case analyses (Parsons Brinckerhoff and Samsung). The contribution of the research is the formulation of a model for designing KMS based upon the design-science paradigm. The essential proposition of our research is that KMS design and implementation must be contextualized towards knowledge needs and that these will differ for various organizational settings. Our findings therefore present valuable insights and further understanding of the way in which KMS design efforts should be focused.
Baloh, P., Desouza, K.C., and Hackney, R.A. “Contextualizing Organizational Interventions of Knowledge Management Systems: A Design Science Perspective,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Forthcoming.
I have entered into an agreement with the management team of iHear Network to join their advisory board. I am excited to help iHear Network realize their vision of developing an innovative app for smart phones. The iHear app uses text-to-speech integration to connect users to relevant stories, news, and conversations. iHear Network recently appointed Paul Simons, a former University of Washington iSchool graduate student of mine, to serve as the CEO. Please click here for the press release - iHear Network Press Release.
I will be giving two talks in France in early October. Both talks are hosted by the faculty at IÉSEG School of Management. On October 10, I will speak at IÉSEG’s Paris Campus on Designing the Innovation Process: Building, Managing, Communicating and Measuring (October 10). This talk is based on my forthcoming book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization (University of Toronto Press, 2011).
On October 11, I will head to IESEG’s Lille Campus where I will speak on the topic of Challenges in Inter-Disciplinary Research: Strategies from Crafting Research Ideas to Publishing. In this presentation, I will share my experiences in executing inter-disciplinary research projects. 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, 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 narrow-minded and singular research exercises, which reduce complex phenomenon in deterministic fashions so as to arrive at simplistic problems that lack relevance. 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 have co-authored a paper with Sandeep Purao and Jonathan Becker, both based at the College of Information Science and Technology at Penn State University, which analyzes the IRS’s Business Systems Modernization Project using sentiment analysis. The paper will appear in a special issue of e-Service Journal.
We describe results from historical analysis of the IRS Business Systems Modernization (BSM) as an example of large-scale, public sector projects. The project has already spanned a decade and consumed more than 3 billion dollars. The paper suggests extracting stakeholder Sentiments and Confidence from documents, with a view to exploring how such measures may offer early indications of project progress and assist managers to prevent undesirable future outcomes. The key contribution of this research is a demonstration of a plausible technique to elicit stakeholder perspectives based on the content in publicly available documents, either complementing any existing methods, or supplanting them in projects where collecting primary data may be infeasible.
A previous version of this paper was presented at the 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences in theElectronic Government Track(Development Methods for Electronic Government, Minitrack).
As one of Virginia Tech’s premier research initiatives, the Metropolitan Institute conducts basic and applied research on the dynamics of metropolitan complexities, such as demographics, environment, technology, design, transportation, and governance. With most of the globe's population moving to urbanized areas, the major public policy challenges of this century will require a deeper understanding of how metropolitan complexities play out across multiple jurisdictions, locations, infrastructures, and stakeholders.
The Metropolitan Institute fosters research on designing, planning, and governing of livable, sustainable, and economically-viable urban spaces. Our research embraces the challenge of addressing the intertwining variables, goals, mechanisms, and systems of accountability within this space through an integration of heterogeneous information, emerging computational mechanics, and predictive theoretical frameworks. The Metropolitan Institute offers two special capabilities to help policymakers and practitioners address these emerging public policy challenges. Firstly, the Metropolitan Institute can visualize, analyze, interpret, and employ information from a wide assortment of sources, using sophisticated analytical approaches in a cost-effective manner as part of a new era of social science research that embraces policy informatics to solving complex problems. Secondly, the Metropolitan Institute provides an interdisciplinary platform for academic researchers from public policy, to geography and planning, from economics to computational sciences, and from architecture to engineering to advance the cause of designing, planning, and administering resilient and sustainable urban spaces.
Located in the National Capital Region in Alexandria, VA, the Metropolitan Institute is housed within the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) where it can leverage key strengths of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) faculty within the Departments of Urban and Regional Planning (UAP), Public Administration and Policy (CPAP), and Government and International Affairs (GIA), while also reaching beyond the boundaries of department, college, or university, to bring together the richest collaboration of thinkers to each research question. The Metropolitan Institute advances the mission of Virginia Tech by enabling policy makers, city planners, businesses, and citizens to invent the future of resilient and sustainable metropolitans.
Just completed finalizing my first letter as the Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. We will soon be loading this on the Metropolitan Institute's website and sharing it with faculty, staff, and friends of Virginia Tech.
Welcome Letter from the Director
It is a privilege to introduce myself as the new director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. I look forward to growing the Metropolitan Institute in the rich history of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, fueled by the dynamism of the School of Public and International Affairs. As we chart a new course for the Institute, I invite members of the Virginia Tech family (students, professors, and administrators) and past/future partner organizations from the Washington, DC metropolitan region and beyond, to visit our web site, review our upcoming work, and contact us as we explore new collaborations.
For the past decade, my intellectual curiosity has focused on designing more resilient and innovative organizations. Critical to this endeavor is understanding how information is managed within and beyond the organization’s borders. As part of my explorations, I have employed numerous research methodologies from behavioral to computational, and have collaborated with industry and academic partners across a range of disciplines from engineering to public administration and management.
A necessary reality of conducting my research was traveling to various parts of the globe to study organizations, the leaders and managers who were responsible for them, and the employees who supported their mission. Over the course of last five years, I have had the privilege of traveling to over 20 cities, including Mumbai, Madrid, Rome, Ljubljana, Johannesburg, Bangkok, London, and Prague. Observing and experiencing the diversity of metropolitan forms led me to consider the design and consequences of how information traversed urban systems across infrastructures, organizations, and social networks.
Urbanization is a major force of change in our world today and will impact the future of the planet on a number of dimensions from resiliency to sustainability and economic vitality. The need to become more effective and aware of the design and implementation of policies has never been more critical. Central to developing new and more effective models of urban policy are the needs to:
- Innovate the policy setting process, making it more dynamic, inclusive, cost effective, and timely.
- Leverage information through the deployment of computational systems, simulation platforms, and participatory platforms that allow for crowdsourcing of solutions to local problems
- Facilitate multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approaches to framing, studying, and solving, the most complex urban problems.
I envision the future of the Metropolitan Institute as an open collaborative platform that brings together diverse expertise to solve complex urban issues. The Metropolitan Institute will fold together the best and brightest in the fields of informatics, urban planning, international affairs, engineering, and public policy to forge a new set of solutions for today’s urbanizing world. The Metropolitan Institute is a space that is open for all of you to connect and collaborate.
In the near-term, I plan to meet with stakeholders across Virginia Tech and also community partners, industry, and government to listen to your ideas. I have been humbled by the warm welcomes I have received from the various scholars and leaders at Virginia Tech. An esteemed university like Virginia Tech has many friends in public and private organizations across the 50 states and the world beyond. I look forward to meeting with the many friends of the University and welcoming them to the Institute. I am excited to begin designing a new future for Metropolitan Institute.
I look forward to meeting with you and hearing your ideas.
Dr. Kevin C. Desouza
Director, Metropolitan Institute
I have been busy working on a statement that captures the essence of policy informatics. Here is my first-cut at the definition. I thank all those who have already provided comments on this version, especially Dr. Erik Johnston (Co-Director of the Center for Public Informatics at Arizona State University). Please do send me your comments, both positive and negative, and suggestions for improvement. Thanks.
Solving complex public policy problems, dilemmas, and challenges requires deliberate, and sophisticated, information analysis.
Policymakers often are faced with conflicting solutions to complex problems, thus making it necessary for them to test out their assumptions, interventions, and resolutions. Towards this end, it becomes critical for a policymaker to have an information-rich, interactive environment in which complex problems can be modeled, simulated, visualized, and studied.
Relevant information can range from being too abundant to hardly existent. In the former case, we face the challenge of leveraging large quantities of information under severe time and resource constraints. In the latter case, limited or incomplete information has to be used to make decisions on ambiguous solution spaces.
In deliberating, designing, and implementing policies, the policy makers and the public face a number of transactional and collaborative inefficiencies. Some of these inefficiencies arise from the simple reality that information held by both parties is difficult to articulate and even transfer, i.e. information is sticky. This makes it difficult for either party to collaborate as they do not fully empathize with the problems of the other.
In addition, advances in communication and computational technologies enable new pathways to solutions. Rather than trying to solve public problems, governments are able to empower its public to solve their own problems. Crowdsourcing and bottom-up, emergent, problem-solving are desirable as the public have a greater chance of taking charge of their own local problems, voicing their concerns, and arriving at locally relevant solutions. Designing and mobilizing platforms where citizen input is used effectively to solve local problems and collaborative forums improves the results, and therefore the relationships, for both the policy makers and the public.
Policy informatics is the study of how information is leveraged and efforts are coordinated towards solving complex public policy problems. Driven by the need to exploit information to tackle complex policy problems and to ensure efficient and efficient policy setting and implementation platforms, policy informatics seeks to
- enhance policy analysis and design through visualizing, modeling, and simulating complex policy scenarios,
- study the role of information systems and information-based governance platforms in policy planning, deliberation, and implementation,
- advance the management of information systems projects in the public sector,
- study how information analysis and management influences the design of participatory platforms, and
- arrive at theoretical and practical frameworks to advance our knowledge of the roles of information analysis in policy setting, the use of computational techniques in policy contexts, and how information-driven policy setting influences the nature of governance and governance platforms.
Policy informatics helps us advance evidence-driven policy design, wherein scientific models and analyses drive decision-making for resolution of complex policy challenges, dilemmas, and problems. Policy informatics is an emerging field of both research and a community of practice focusing on 1) advancing decision-making in the public sector through information-centric analysis of evidence that leverages computational and technological advances, and 2) designing, managing, and evaluating of information systems and infrastructures for policy construction, analysis, and implementation. Policy informatics expands to the multi-disciplinary nature of the public administration discipline by infusing it with the advances of information technology, management of information systems, and computational and informational science perspectives.
Virginia Tech released the following press release on my new role at the University (Click here to access the press release - LINK).
NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Aug. 18, 2011 – Kevin Desouza has been named director of theMetropolitan Institute, a center in theSchool of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech.
Desouza was most recently an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Information School and has held adjunct appointments in the university’s College of Engineering and at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs.
"Dr. Desouza's experience with major international corporations and government organizations on strategic management issues will be a great asset to the college and the university," said Jack Davis, the Reynolds Metals Professor of Architecture and dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.
Based in the National Capital Region, the Metropolitan Institute fosters basic and applied research on designing, planning, and governing of livable, sustainable,and economically-viable urban spaces. The institute also publishes several publications including the journal Housing Policy Debate.
Desouza’s work is internationally recognized and he has conducted research and lectured across the world. He holds a visiting professorship at the University of Ljubljana and has held past appointments at the Center for International Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, among others.
In addition to his professorship, Desouza founded two research institutes at the University of Washington, the Institute for National Security and Research, and the Institute for Innovation in Information Management.
Desouza has authored, co-authored, and/or edited nine books and over 90 articles. He has also been invited to advise and consult for several major international corporations and government organizations, focusing on strategic management issues ranging from management of information systems, to crisis management. He has given over 40 invited talks and received over $1.2 million in research funding from both public and private organizations. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK). Desouza received his Ph.D. from the Liatuad Graduate School of Business at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In addition to directing the Metropolitan Institute, he will also hold an associate professor appointment at the Center for Public Administration and Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. He is also serving on the Presidential Task Force working on Virginia Tech's long range plan.
He will be moving to the National Capital Region in August to begin his new position.
Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of four schools: the School of Architecture + Design, including architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture; the School of Public and International Affairs, including urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy and government and international affairs; the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, which includes building construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and construction engineering management in the College of Engineering; and the School of the Visual Arts, including programs in studio art, visual communication and art history.