Susan Gasson

Socio-Technical Studies of Digital Technologies and Collaborative Processes

I study the design, use, and impacts of digital technologies for boundary-spanning collaboration. My work lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI), social informatics, and design theory. I explore three "big questions":
1. How can we co-design systems of business processes and information technology to support diverse goals and effective collaboration across complex organizations? Complex organizations create wicked problems that span knowledge domain and expertise boundaries. Understanding how to provide a common language for boundary-spanning design and problem solving is critical for organizational learning, innovation and change.
2. How is knowledge created, communicated, and shared in virtual collaboration environments? Increasingly, technology systems mediate and progressively displace people in distributed knowledge networks. By exploring the role of (material, epistemic, technical, symbolic, mediating) objects in networks of practice, we may be able to identify forms of metaknowledge that work across domain boundaries, e.g. categorization schemes, databases, technology, or routinized practices that embed frameworks for participation.
3. How can we ensure that technology design is human-centered? Creating new design methods and approaches is only part of professional design practice. The impact of technology platforms for design collaboration, the ways in which methods are implemented, and the approaches used to stakeholder requirements elicitation are all important constraints on human-centered design outcomes.

My studies employ grounded theory, ethnography, and qualitative/mixed methods to investigate a variety of contextual domains including Enterprise System design, distributed virtual organizations, peer- and vicarious learning in online education, and research networks of practice. Dr. Gasson's work has been published in The Information Society, the European Journal of Information Systems, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications, and Information, Technology & People.

I am a member of the Academy of Management (OCIS Divison), the Association for Information Systems (AIS), and IFIP WG 8.2 (Organizational Aspects of IS).

Courses Taught

I teach on the graduate MS programs - MSIS, MSSE, MS(LIS) - and lead selected doctoral seminars. The following is a list of the courses that I teach, but not always in every year.

INFO 627 - Requirements Engineering and Management

INFO 638 - Software Project Management

INFO 646 - Information Systems Management

INFO 780 (Special Topics) - Social Informatics

INFO 811 - Doctoral Research Methods

INFO 861 - Qualitative Research Methods

About Me

Prior to becoming an academic, I pursued a successful career in information systems development, management, and consulting. I have performed most software engineering industry job functions: firmware designer, operating system debugger, real-time systems developer, software architecture integration specialist (integrating cross-platform datacomms architectures and standards), project manager, IS business group manager, and systems architecture consultant. I worked with many large corporations in the United Kingdom, including British Telecom, Bell Northern Research and ICL (now Fujitsu). I specialized in the area of systems software architectures and data communications, advising on systems integration and compatibility problems, working on early implementations of standards and implementation languages for object-oriented system design (implementing ASN.1), OSN network protocols, and developing architectures for co-resident network protocols and office system document access standards (the precursor to XML). During this time, I discovered that many projects failed because of an inability to integrate multiple sets of (often incompatible) requirements for change, originating from different stakeholder groups. This formed the basis for my PhD dissertation, which investigated how boundary-spanning design groups make sense of complex organizational innovation problems.

I also have a life ... smiley