2013 ECIS Panel on IS History

The Netherlands, 2013.06

IS History: The Origin of IS in Different Regions

Moderator: Ping Zhang, AIS Historian, Syracuse University


  • Niels Bjørn-Andersen, AIS LEO award winner, Copenhagen Business School
  • Phillip Ein-Dor, AIS LEO award winner, Tel Aviv University
  • Frank Land, AIS LEO award winner, London School of Economics
  • Carol Saunders, AIS LEO award winner, University of Central Florida

Panel Theme

As part of the first initiatives, the AIS History Task Force is organizing panels at IS conferences, including ECIS, PACIS, AMCIS and ICIS. This is one type of activity that will help collect as well as communicate/share the IS history with the community. The main idea is to invite the most influential pioneers in our field as the panelists to offer their memories, opinions, suggestions, and share such with the audience.

The theme of the panel is: the origins of IS in different regions.

The targeted audience is scholars who are interested in the IS discipline and its history. They may benefit from the memories and opinions of panelists as well as of other members of the audience on issues related to the panel theme. They may become engaged in contributing to the preservation, collection and dissemination of IS history in the future.

The ECIS conference itself is an excellent example of the IS discipline’s development in different regions. The conference itself is part of the present, history, and future of IS. An IS History panel fits well with this and all coming ECIS conferences.

Panel Structure and Expected Outcomes

To encourage participation, an announcement will be made to the AISWorld list prior to the conference. At the panel, the panelists will present personal recollections on the following questions. Each panelist will address all three questions. The moderator will then synthesize the key issues raised by the panelists and pose discussion-stimulating questions. Then the audience will be encouraged to dialogue with the panelists by responding to the panelists and moderator, as well as to introduce their own comments.

  • Q 1. What have been the origins and development of global IS communities and infrastructure?
  • Q 2. What have been the intellectual challenges and advances in different regions? Have we missed some sections or topics that should be part of the IS domain?
  • Q 3. What do our recollections on Topics 1 and 2 reveal about the success (or failure) of our academic discipline? What can we learn to benefit our discipline’s future?

A questionnaire will be collected during the panel time from the audience to focus on the following:

  • Audience’s responses to the three questions
  • Audience’s additional comments on IS history
  • Audience’s willingness to be involved and if so their IDs
  • Audience’s evaluation of the panel and suggestions for future activities related to IS history

The panel session will be videotaped and made available in the AIS e-lib as part of the IS history collection. The panel content, discussions and expansions eventually will be written up into publications to foster preservation and broad dissemination. The feedback from the questionnaire will be used to guide future efforts on IS History.

Position Statements from the Panelists

Niels: I will trace the earliest attempts at creating an IS discipline in the Nordic countries, which may be characterized in two different strands housed in the IFIP 8.1 and 8.2 working groups established in 1978. I will illustrate the early pieces of research from that time that over time became known as the field of Information Systems. Probably the earliest significant publication was ‘Theoretical Analysis of Information Systems’ by Börje Langefors from 1965. From this work, a number of IS groups was formed in the Nordic countries having summer schools for PhD students from 1968. First IRIS conference took place in 1977, and has been running since; probably making it the oldest IS conference. A lot of the early works found their first home in the IFIP TC 8 Information Systems with the working groups 8.1 and 8.2 being formed almost at the same time.

Phillip: The IS discipline developed in a number of different directions in various regions of the world. These differences are evident in the intellectual discourse, journals, and educational stance of the discipline in different geographical areas. I will attempt briefly describe these differences and their development. This description will serve as the basis for speculation why, in my opinion, the IS discipline, as represented by AIS and its various offshoots, has not realized its potential as the major intellectual nucleus for the study of general information system phenomena.

Frank: I intend to show with examples, that despite the success of the IS academic discipline in explicating the role of IS in a variety of domains - business, government, society at large - some important developments have been missed or neglected by the IS academic community. A study of the history IS suggests the way our academic discipline is structured, and the career choices they enforce can seriously restrict the range of issues they accept as part of the domain.

Carol: I will talk about my perceptions of the intellectual challenges and advances in the IS discipline in the United States since I entered the discipline in 1984. I will add some observations about the development of an infrastructure for our discipline and will reflect upon how we can learn from the past to move into the future.

Overview of the Moderator and Panelists

Ping Zhang is Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. She was one of the key developers of the very first MIS ever custom built in China (1984-1986). After researching and practicing on developing MIS for three different organizations in China for five years (Nanjing Automobile Manufacture, Beijing TV Factory, and Beijing Insurance Company), she decided to pursue a PhD on MIS. Her current research interests include the intellectual development of information related fields; human-centeredness in ICT development, evaluation and use; affective, cognitive, motivational and behavioral aspects of individual reactions towards ICT; and the impact of ICT design and use on individuals, organizations, societies and cultures. She is the author of the first article published in the AIS research flagship journal JAIS. Her research on online advertising was one of the first four funded projects by Time Warner Cable Company’s Research Program on Digital Communications. She is co-author (with Dov Te’eni and Jane Carey) of the first HCI textbook for non-CS students. She is co-editor (with Dennis Galletta) of two edited books on HCI and MIS of the Advances in MIS series. She and Dennis Galletta are founding EICs of the first AIS Transactions journal, AIS THCI. In addition, she is a guest SE for MISQ, former SE for JAIS, former AE for IJHCS and CAIS, on the editorial board of JMIS, and a guest editor of eight special issues for IJHCS, JAIS, BIT, JMIS, IJHCI, and ECRA. Ping co-founded and chaired one of the first six AIS Special Interest Groups, SIGHCI. In 2013, she was appointed the first AIS Historian, leading an important effort to preserve the heritage and legacy of the IS field. Since 2004, she has been visiting professor/scholar of the following universities: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, City University of Hong Kong, Fu Dan University, Abu Dhabi University, National Sun Yat-Sen University (Taiwan), Tsinghua University, Australia National University, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and University of Surrey in UK. She has also given talks in more than a dozen other universities. She holds multi-year guest professor appointments with the Inner Mongolia University, Renmin University, and Xi’An Jiao Tong University in China. Ping received her PhD in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin, and M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Computer Science from Peking University, Beijing, China. To learn more about Ping, visit http://melody.syr.edu/pzhang.

Niels Bjørn-Andersen is professor at Copenhagen Business School. He started his career as systems analyst with Unilever 1967, but left to take up a PhD research scholarship at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and received his Ph.D. in 1973. He got a tenured position as associate professor in 1972 and was for two years head of the Department of Organization and Industrial Sociology 1972 - 1974. In 1987 he was appointed full professor at the newly formed Department of Informatics and Management Accounting at the Copenhagen Business School. Due to the fast growth of this department, it was decided to divide it into two departments in 1998, and from April 1998 until June 1999 he was Head of department of Informatics at CBS. From 1998 – 2006 he was the Director of the Center for Electronic Commerce and from 2006 – 2010 Director of the Enterprise Systems Laboratory both as CBS. His early PhD work was about decision support systems, but he quickly became interested in the impact of IT on individual users, managers and organizations, and he is generally recognized as founding father of the socio-technical IS tradition in Denmark and influencing this development abroad especially in the Nordic countries. Later he became interested in the management of IT, until in the mid 90’s the interest changed to the exploitation of Internet and WWW. More recently, he has worked on developing next generation of ERP systems, enhancing interoperability in international trade, and last but not least the management of IT in mergers and acquisitions. He has published 22 books, more than 30 refereed journal articles (including papers in CACM, CAIS, EJIS, JIS, JIT, JSIS, and MISQ), and more than 150 other publications. Niels was one of the founding fathers of IFIP TC-8 in 1978 and its two working groups WG8.1 and WG 8.2. He was for 15 years the Danish representative to IFIP TC-8. For the first time in the history of ICIS, he brought the conference to Copenhagen in 1990, and he established the first European directory of IS academics in Europe in 1993, which was later folded into the AIS directory. When AIS was first formed in 1995, he was elected as the first president for 1996 to follow the inaugurating president Bill King. He received the AIS-LEO award in 2006. He was knighted by the queen of Denmark in 2003 for his contributions to teaching and research. To learn more about Niels, visit the AIS presidents’ gallery http://home.aisnet.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=1123.

Phillip Ein-Dor began his career in Information Systems in 1960 as a sales representative for IBM (Israel). He later received an MS in Industrial Administration (1970) and Ph. D. in Systems and Communications Sciences (1971), both from Carnegie-Mellon University. He was on the faculty of the Information Systems program at Tel-Aviv University from 1971. He chaired the Program in information Systems from 1980 to 1986, and from 1992 to 1999 directed the Marcel and Annie Adams Institute for Business Management Information Systems. He was promoted to Professor in 1988 and is Professor Emeritus since 2003. In 2007 he established the Information Systems Program at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo. Dr. Ein-Dor has been active in the Association of Information Systems (AIS) since its inception and is a founding member; he filled various positions including President (2002-2003). He has received the Fellow and LEO Awards in 2006. In 2005 he founded the Israel Chapter of AIS and has been its Chair since then. In 1998 Dr. Ein-Dor was appointed founding editor of the Journal of the Association for Information Systems and served in that role until 2002. He currently serves on the editorial and/or advisory boards of ten journals. Dr. Ein-Dor's research interests have included MIS, information system theory, artificial intelligence - especially natural language processing and commonsense knowledge representation, economics of computers and information systems, technology infrastructure and diffusion, Internet applications, and the digital divide. He has published four books and some 50 papers on various aspects of information systems and their management. He has held visiting appointments at leading departments on four continents, including New York University, Claremont Graduate University, the Naval Postgraduate School, The University of Capetown, the National University of Singapore, City University of Hong Kong, and ESSEC Business School. To learn more about Philip, visit http://recanati.tau.ac.il/?CategoryID=787&ArticleID=72.

Frank Land started his career in computing with J. Lyons, in 1953, working on the pioneering LEO Computer first as a programmer and then as a systems analyst. In 1967 he left industry to join the London School of Economics on National Computing Centre grant to establish teaching and research in systems analysis becoming Professor of Systems Analysis in 1982. In 1996 he joined the London Business School as Professor of Information Management. He retired in 1991 and was appointed Emeritus Professor at the LSE in the Department of Information Systems in 2000. Frank has been Visiting Professor at the Wharton School, the University of Sydney, the University of Cairo, Bond University, Curtain University, and is currently Visiting Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University. He has twice served as specialist advisor to the UK House of Commons Select Committee investigating the UK computer industry. He is past chairman of IFIP WG 8.2 and on the editorial board of a number of academic journals. He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and was awarded a Fellowship of the AIS in 2001 and the AIS LEO Award in 2003. As a researcher Frank has worked with End Mumford and others on sociotechnical ideas since the early 1970 and is currently active with the British Computer Society’s Sociotechnical Specialist Group. Working with Barbara Farbey and David Targett he has carried out research and written papers and books on the problems and tools of IS evaluation. More recently he has become involved with work in Knowledge Management focusing on the manipulative aspects of KM. Frank has always had an interest in the history of computing and in particular with impact of technology on organizations both private and public and more recently on the citizen via the social networks. He chairs the LEO Computers Society History Sub-Committee. To learn more about Frank, visit http://www2.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Carol Saunders began her career in 1969 as a programmer on the NASA project. She was proud to be a part of a huge team that landed a man on the moon. After earning her MBA from the University of North Carolina, she worked a few years at EXXON Company USA as a systems analyst. Her academic career began in 1974 when she was hired to teach Computer Science courses at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. She was promoted to Acting Department Chair two months later when the only other person in the department resigned. After receiving her Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in Management from the University of Houston in 1979 she taught management and information systems courses in a number of universities. She played a role in the founding of the Organization Communication and Information Systems division of the Academy of Management and was the Conference Chair of ICIS’99 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The following year (2000), as Chair of the ICIS Executive Committee, she helped in the amalgamation of ICIS with AIS. She became an AIS Fellow in 2004 and an AIS LEO Award winner in 2010. She has served on a number of editorial boards, including a three-year term as Editor-in-Chief of MIS Quarterly. She was recently made a Schoeller Senior Scholar at the Dr. Theo and Friedl Schoeller Research Center for Business and Society at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. She was a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar at the Wirtschafts Universität – Wien (WU) in 2009 and held research chairs at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), and Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (the Netherlands). Her current research interests include overload, sourcing, power, virtual teams, virtual worlds, and time. She has published in top-ranked Management, IS, Computer Science and Communication journals. To learn more about Carol, visit http://www.bus.ucf.edu/faculty/csaunders/.