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10 Questions with Ulrike Schultze

Friday, May 29, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Brook Pritchett

10 Questions with Ulrike Schultze

In this edition of 10 questions, Ulrike Schulke, Associate Professor, Information Technology and Operations Management, and Corrigan Research Professor in the Cox School of Business answers questions on the challenges and rewards of the IS field.. More information about Ulrike can be found at:

Questions by Chrisanthi Avgerou:
Q1: I would like to know what such a perceptive and competent IS scholar thinks are the most challenging issues of our field.
I believe that a key challenge of our field has been and continues to be our struggle to theorize information technology, specifically how the material aspects of the IT artifact matter in organizational and social phenomena. And even though I believe that the excitement around sociomaterial theorizing is encouraging in that it promises to make substantive inroads into our ability to develop theories that take the materiality of the technology seriously, I worry that our lack of agreement of what constitutes theory might lose the beachhead the sociomateriality movement has established. Recent editorials and debates in EJIS and JIT respectively highlight just how fractured we are on what constitutes theory and a theoretical contribution. In light of this disagreement, my concern is that authors seeking to create new knowledge in the emerging area of sociomaterial theorizing will get frustrated and revert back to established theories that improve their chances of getting their work published.

Q2: What is you most rewarding service activity? And why?
My time on the Executive Committee of the OCIS (organizational communications and information systems) division stands out as particularly rewarding. It was a five-year commitment and every year one moved to a different role with different responsibilities. This was a great way to learn about all aspects of leading an academic community.  During my time on the executive board, we implemented numerous innovations that are still in place today.  I found the experience of improving the organization rewarding in itself, but the fact that many of the practices and structures we instituted have endured, makes this service activity all the more rewarding.

Q3: Currently, what is your favorite class to teach? And why?
I enjoy teaching; interacting with engaged students is energizing. Currently I teach three classes that I like for different reasons. But as I have to pick one, I’d say that my favorite right now is a new course that I am teaching in our recently-introduced Masters in Business Analytics.  The course is entitled “Intro to Business Process Analytics” and I am currently developing some teaching cases with local companies for it. I learn a tremendous about practice in this process, and I enjoy the relationship with local industry that the development of teaching cases fosters. I also look forward to having the protagonists of the cases participate in the class discussion when I teach these new cases in the fall.     

Q4: Favorite saying or quote.
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
I find this quote reassuring because it recognizes that being successful necessarily involves struggle and failure, and as an academic dealing with frequent rejections and seemingly endless rounds of revisions, I can tell myself that I am successful as long as I don’t give up ;-).

Q5: What's one trend that you are excited about?
A trend in IS research that I am excited about is sociomaterial theorizing as I see this as a way in which the IS discipline can develop distinctive knowledge about the role of technology in organizations and social practice.

Q6: Name one habit that makes you more productive at work?
I don’t think I have found a foolproof productivity formula for myself, but the habits that I practice in the BELIEF that they will help me produce new knowledge are collaborating with others and performing to hard deadlines, e.g., conferences, special issues, due dates for reviews and editorial reports.

Q7: If you were to do it all over again, what would you have done differently?
The academic career, especially the way it is conceived in the US, is a highly structured one: complete the dissertation; get a job; publish in top-tier journals and earn acceptable teaching evaluations in the classroom; get through the third-year review; get tenure; … I dealt with this hurdle race by holding my breath and not surfacing until I cleared each one.  My regret is that I put many of my dreams on hold in the process. I am not sure I would do it differently if I had another go, but I hope that I’d have the courage to make more space for my personal life.

Q8: What people have influenced your career?
There are three people to whom I owe a special debt of gratitude for their mentorship. I can only hope to be as good a friend and mentor to others as they have been to me.

Dick Boland, my dissertation advisor. Not only did he teach me how to do research, but he did so by spending every Sunday morning during my 8-month dissertation fieldwork talking about what I had learned in the field in the prior week. I miss these thought-provoking conversations and Dick’s eagerness to play with ideas.

Cynthia Beath, my former SMU colleague, friend and mentor. Dr. Boo, as she is known to many of us, has frequently helped me think through career- and service-related issues. She is a great strategist who has a thorough understanding of how the IS community and academic institutions work. I benefit from her wisdom and practical advice regularly.

Wanda Orlikowski, a co-author, friend and mentor. It seems that Wanda and I had a relationship before we even met, as I would hear about her from my professors at WITS University (also her alma mater) when I was doing my undergraduate work. I have been fortunate enough to work with Wanda on some papers and she has taught me a tremendous amount about theorizing data and publishing qualitative research. But even when we are not working on papers together, she makes time to give me her ideas and sage advice on any number of issues with which I need help.

Q9: What is your favorite memory at an AIS event (ICIS/AMCIS) or affiliated conference (ECIS/PACIS/etc.)?
Recency bias not withstanding, I’d say it’s walking on the esplanade in Tel Aviv during ECIS 2014. There’s nothing like a conference location at a beach to help defuse some of the stresses associated with performing an extroverted, intellectual self for almost 20 hours a day during a packed conference schedule.  So, I continue to root for an ICIS venue on a beach in Hawaii ;-).

Q10: Tell us something very few people know about you?
I enjoy knitting and gardening to relax.

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions next? And what would you like to see her/his thoughts on? 
Liz Davidson has just taken on the editorship of Information & Organization, a journal started by Dick Boland. I’d be interested to learn more about her vision of the journal’s role in advancing the field of IS.

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