Mendoza School of Business

ND study of ‘digital traces’ wins prestigious research award

Published: December 18, 2020 / Author: Carol Elliott



Nicholas Berente, the Viola D. Hank Associate Professor of Information Technology, Analytics, and Operations at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, recently received the Senior Scholar Best Information System Paper Award, given by the Association for Information Systems (AIS).

Nicholas Berente

Berente and co-authors Stefan Seidel of the University of Liechtenstein and Hani Safadi of the University of Georgia won the recognition for their paper, “Data-Driven Computationally Intensive Theory Development.” The paper examines the digital traces left by individuals and organizations as they utilize computing and mobile devices and the tremendous opportunity these traces provide for researchers to rethink what they know about management.

“In the past, management researchers were simply limited by their access to data and the tools at their disposal to analyze that data,” said Berente. “Now, digital traces of processes and activities give researchers a trail that can be analyzed using next-generation computational techniques like network analysis, sequence analysis, text and video analysis, and so on. Analyzing this data in these new ways has the potential to offer fundamentally new theoretical insights.”

In the paper, Berente and his co-authors draw on existing inductive traditions in science to formulate a general approach to computationally intensive theory development – the generation of evidence-based management knowledge – from trace data. This approach involves the iterative application of four general processes that they describe: sampling, synchronic analysis, lexical framing and diachronic analysis. The authors argue that this is, in some ways, the management research paradigm of the future, and offer examples from recent research to illustrate the approach.

AIS established the Senior Scholar Best Information System Paper Award in 2006 to recognize the high-quality research published in the information systems discipline. The award is considered the top honor for information systems research, with each major academic journal nominating a best paper for consideration. Berente’s paper previously received the best paper distinction for Information Systems Research, which is published by the INFORMS Society and is considered one of the top two academic journals in the field.

The Senior Scholar Best Information System Paper Award is determined by a committee of senior scholars who conduct an in-depth review of the nominations to select the winning paper. The awards were presented during the Senior Scholars session at International Conference of Information Systems, which was held virtually this year Dec. 13-16.

Berente studies how digital innovation drives large-scale change in organizations and institutions. He teaches courses on strategic business technology. He received his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. Prior to his academic career, Berente was an entrepreneur, founding two technology companies. He is the principal investigator for a number of U.S. National Science Foundation projects and has won multiple awards for his teaching and his research. Berente is associate editor for MIS Quarterly.

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