21.09.2017 10:16

Prof. Dr. Thomas L. Huber Gives a Talk at Our IS Research Seminar, 10.10.2017, 16:00

At the next Information Systems Research Brown Bag Seminar our guest Prof. Dr. Thomas L. Huber (Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the University of Bern, Switzerland) will give a talk entitled „How and Why Software Outsourcing Projects Drift—An Actor-Network-Theoretic Investigation of Control Processes".

The research seminar takes place on Tuesday, October 10th at 16:00 in room 1109 (K33, Henschelstraße 4, second floor). Prior registration is not required.

Abstract of the Talk: This study seeks to explain the perplexing phenomenon that many software outsourcing projects drift, i.e., they enter into a creeping process of increasingly deviating from their initial objectives. Such drift is difficult to reconcile with the traditional logic of control found in the literature. According to this logic, clients should be able to prevent drift by selecting, adapting, and enacting controls to ensure goal achievement. If drift occurs despite rigid control, this suggests that within the control process forces are at work that divert controls from their initial objectives. To better understand these forces and how they relate to drift, we contrast the logic of control with concepts and assumptions from actor-network theory (ANT). ANT allows us to understand the process of designing, enacting, and adapting controls as one of creating and changing actor-networks. Our longitudinal case study of four software outsourcing projects reveals that control processes either encourage or discourage drift depending on three interconnected differences in actor-networks, i.e., which actors partake in the negotiation of controls, what specific controls they design, and whether they inscribe difficult to revert changes in the software artifact and the software task. We synthesize these findings into a process model that provides novel insights for control research in software outsourcing. 

Short Bio: Thomas L. Huber is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He studied Business Administration at the University of Mannheim and received his Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Bern. Thomas was a visiting scholar at the Katz Graduate School of Business (University of Pittsburgh, USA) and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, USA). His current research focuses on dynamics of governance and control in software outsourcing, processes of digital transformation, and governance of digital ecosystems. His work has been published in Information Systems Research (ISR), the Journal of Management Information Systems (JMIS) and in proceedings of the field’s leading conferences.