Sunil Mithas

University of South Florida, Muma College of Business

Title: Causality Meets Research in Information Systems: Diversity of Questions, Data, and Assumptions

Abstract:  Researchers in information systems are increasingly focusing on assessing causality in their work. I will describe three dominant perspectives on causality and how they address some of the key challenges in assessing causality from their vantage point. I will draw on my work relating digital resources, strategies and capabilities with performance at various levels of analyses. I will argue that reflecting on the plausibility and substantive meaning of underlying assumptions of different perspectives and approaches for assessing causality will lead to better conceptualization, execution, evaluation, and dissemination of research in information systems and related fields. In the end, the identity of a discipline such as information systems is tied more to types of questions it addresses with appropriate blend of description, causal theorizing, explanation and generalizability than about using a particular methodological approach.

Sunil Mithas is a World Class Scholar and Professor at the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida. Mithas has taught at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and has held visiting positions in Australia, Germany and Hong Kong. He earned his PhD from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and an engineering degree from IIT, Roorkee. Identified as an MSI Young Scholar by the Marketing Science Institute, Mithas is among top information systems scholars in the world. He has consulted and conducted research with a range of organizations including A. T. Kearney, Ernst & Young, Johnson & Johnson, the Social Security Administration, and the Tata Group. He is the author of two books, and his research has won best-paper awards, and featured in practice-oriented publications such as MIT Sloan Management Review, Bloomberg, and

Ping Wang

University of Maryland, College Park

Title: Toward an Information Ecology Theory of Digital Innovation Ecosystems

Abstract: The remarkable connectivity and embeddedness of digital technologies enable innovations undertaken by a broad set of actors, often beyond organizational and industry boundaries, whose relationships mimic those of interdependent species in a natural ecosystem. These digital innovation ecosystems, if successful, can spawn countless innovations of substantial social and economic value, but are complex and prone to often surprising failure. Aiming to understand ecosystems as a new organizational form for digital innovations, I develop a theory that addresses an underexplored but important question: In a digital innovation ecosystem, how are the efforts of autonomous parties integrated into a coherent whole and what role do digital technologies play in this integration? By synthesizing ecological and information perspectives, this information ecology theory identifies several key functions that digital technologies serve in providing the information needed to support the interactions and tasks for innovation in ecosystems at varying scales. This theory contributes to digital innovation research new insights on managing part-whole relations, the role of digital technologies in innovation, and multilevel interactions in and across digital innovation ecosystems. The theory can also inspire the development of next-generation information systems for ecosystems as a new organizational form.

Ping Wang is on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park. Presently, he is also serving as an associate for the Information Systems Research Program at UCLA and an associate editor for the MIS Quarterly. His research draws on institutional theory to understand the popularity of new information technologies. In recent years he has taken an ecological perspective to study digital innovations in organizations, communities, and ecosystems. He received the Best Paper Award at the 37th International Conference on Information Systems and the Best Published Paper Award from the Organizational Communication and Information Systems Division of the Academy of Management in 2010. Dr. Wang holds a Ph.D. in Information Systems from UCLA Anderson School and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Maryland.

Xin Xu

Tsinghua University

Title: IT Governance, Renewed Thinking in the Age of Digital Transformation

Abstract: Digital transformation is a key avenue for enterprises to achieve high-quality development. It calls for scholarly attention to revisit IT governance, a classical research area in the information systems discipline. What implications can managers take from the knowledge accumulated in the research area? Are there any new problems faced by enterprises in today’s digital economy? To what extent have academic studies responded to problems faced by industry? These issues will be discussed in the speech.

Sean Xu is a Professor and an Associate Dean at School of Economics and Management (SEM), Tsinghua University. He is the director of Tsinghua SEM’s Research Center for AI-enabled Management (AIM). At his admin post, he supervises the school’s MBA and master’s programs. His current research interest focuses on digital enablement (particularly business transformation enabled by analytics in education and financial industries) and IT governance. His research has been published in Management Science, MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of MIS, Strategic Management Journal, Contemporary Accounting Research, and Journal of Management Studies, among others. He won the MIS Quarterly Best Paper Award for 2013. His editorial services include Senior Editor for MIS Quarterly (2016-present) and Associate Editor for Information Systems Research (2012-2015). Information Systems Research named him “Best Associate Editor” in 2013. He serves the president of CNAIS.

Categories: Keynotes Speeches