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All seminars will take place in the Gremienraum, Pohligstraße 1, 50969 Cologne, starting at 11.30 unless noted otherwise.

Talks are organized as brown bag seminars, so please join us for catered sandwich lunch and cold beverages. Everybody interested is welcome to attend the sessions! If you have questions, please send an email to werder(at)

Currently planned seminar talks (speakers and order may change on short notice):


Research Seminar Series Summer 2019
Date Speaker Room Title & Abstract
04/01/2019 John Collins

John Collins

(University of Minnesota)

3.02 Seminarraum (Pohlighaus, 3rd floor)

Power TAC: A competitive retail electricity simulation - Modelling, Analysis, and Results”

Power TAC ( is a platform [1], an annual competition, and an ongoing research program based on the Competitive Benchmarking [2] model. Annual competitions serve to test policy alternatives as well as ideas about trading strategies embodied in broker agents built by competing teams. An obvious result is that we can rank them, we can say who won. But it’s more important to understand why the winners performed better than their competition. It’s also important to understand how well the simulation model in the Power TAC platform is performing, and whether the model and the design of the markets are being inappropriately exploited by the competing agents. Machine learning can discover and exploit subtle market flaws that are not obvious to either platform or agent designers.

In this talk we will start with a brief overview of the Power TAC simulation and tournament design, and then look closely at a number of interesting phenomena we can observe by analysis of data from the 2018 competition, which produced roughly 250 Gb of log files. We will look at what is in the logs, how it is structured, and some approaches to extracting useful data from them. We will then formulate and test a few hypotheses about interesting and non-obvious results and patterns that show up when we inspect the data. Finally, we’ll briefly discuss how the data and analysis tools might be made more accessible.

[1] Wolfgang Ketter, Markus Peters, John Collins, and Alok Gupta. A Multi-agent Competitive Gaming Platform to address Societal Challenges. In Management Information Systems Quarterly, 40(2):447–460, June 2016.

[2] Wolfgang Ketter, Markus Peters, John Collins, and Alok Gupta. Competitive Benchmarking: An IS Research Approach to Address Wicked Problems with Big Data and Analytics. In Management Information Systems Quarterly, 40(4):1057–1080, December 2016.

04/15/2019 Xuanhui Liu

Xuanhui Liu

(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

Supporting Novice Designers’ Decision-Making with Interactive Decision Aids – A Comparison of Taxonomies and Tags

With the growing importance of digital services, the systematic application of design techniques throughout the entire lifecycle is becoming critical. However, when making situation-dependent decisions for specific design techniques, novice designers have more difficulties in the decision-making process than expert designers because of their limited knowledge and experience. With the growing number of design techniques, providing decision aids for novice designers in the selection process is becoming increasingly important. Two well-established types of decision aids are taxonomy and tags. In this research, we developed hypotheses to explain the relationships of using decision aids in the form of taxonomy or tags and selection correctness under consideration of cognitive effort and decision-making styles of novice designers. A between subject lab experiment was conducted to test our hypotheses. Our experimental result show that the decision aid taxonomy outperforms tags with regards to selection correctness. Furthermore, cognitive effort partially mediates the relationship between the use of the taxonomy and the selection correctness. Furthermore, a rational decision-making style has a trend that moderates the relationship of using the taxonomy and the selection correctness.

05/06/2019 Frederik von Briel

Frederik von Briel

(Queensland University of Technology)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

The World is the Playing Field: How Digital Hardware Start-ups Realize their Market Offerings

Two central questions of strategic entrepreneurship research are where do important resources come from and how are they coordinated? Answering these questions is particularly important in the digital age because digital technologies bear the potential to shift boundaries and distribute agency of entrepreneurship processes and outcomes. Conducting an inductive multi-case study of 16 digital hardware start-ups that have at the core of their market offerings a digitized physical device, we investigate how these emerging firms orchestrate resources across different boundaries to create their market offerings. Our theorizing contributes to the understanding of entrepreneurship in the digital age, resource orchestration across boundaries, and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

05/14/2019 Jeffrey Parsons

Jeffrey Parsons

(University of Newfoundland)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

Personalizing Online Reviews for Better Customer Decision Making

Online consumer reviews have become an important source of information for understanding markets and customer preferences. When making purchase decisions, customers increasingly rely on user-generated online reviews, which in some cases are more credible and trustworthy than information provided by vendors. Many studies have revealed that online reviews influence demand and sales. Others have shown the possibility of identifying customer interest in product attributes. However, little work has been done to address customer and review diversity in the process of examining reviews. This research intends to answer the research question: how can we solve the problem of customer and review diversity in the context of online reviews to recommend useful reviews based on customer preferences and improve product recommendation? Our approach to the question is through personalization. Similar to other personalization research, we use an attribute-based model to represent products and customer preferences. Unlike existing personalization research that uses a set of pre-defined product attributes, we explore the possibility of a data-driven approach for identifying a more comprehensive set of product attributes from online reviews to model products and customer preferences. Specifically, we introduce a new topic model for product attribute identification and sentiment analysis. By differentiating word co-occurrences at the sentence level from at the document level, the model better identifies interpretable topics. The use of an inference network with shared structure enables the model to predict product attribute ratings accurately. Based on this topic model, we develop attribute-based representations of products, reviews and customer preferences and use them to construct the personalization of online reviews. We hypothesize the effects of personalization from the lens of consumer search theory and human information processing theory and test these hypotheses in an experimental setting. The empirical evidence shows that the personalization of online reviews can: 1) recommend products matching customer's preferences; 2) improve custom's intention towards recommended products; 3) best distinguish recommended products from products that do not match customer's preferences; and 4) reduce decision effort.

05/20/2019 Martina Fuchs

Martina Fuchs

(University of Cologne)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

Happy Birthday Digitalization

Today, many publications celebrate Industry 4.0, or Smart Manufacturing, as a digital revolution in manufacturing. Still, digitalization is not new; it started to diffuse into various factories about 50 years ago. The presentation reviews the dominant narratives of economic geography about digitalization over time. It shows that since early, attention of economic geography has been on economic growth to overcome regional disparities. Another strand of literature is on social and spatial inequality (related to employment and skills) and the imbalance of power (related to control). The presentation suggests conceptual implications for the analysis of recent digital work in space and place.

05/23/2019 Philipp Hukal

Philipp Hukal

(Copenhagen Business School)

4.02 Seminarraum (Pohlighaus, 4th floor)

Sources of Complexity and the Pace of Change in Digital Technology Ecosystems

Modularity is a foundation for change in technical systems. Guided by the idea of separating structure while integrating functionality, system operators seek to maintain the ability of their system to change. However, this organizing principle in modularity has limited explanatory power when it comes to digital technology where modules are open for novel and unanticipated interactions. Digital technology incorporates change precisely because it integrates functions across ecosystems of technologies. Studying application source code from the open data project, OpenStreetMap, we investigate the consequences of complex interactions across applications. Extending conventional views on change in modular systems, we find that applications retain their ability to rapidly change when complexity increases if such applications rely on external resources from the ecosystem. Through our findings, we theorize about the role of system operators with little control over the way functionality is being integrated across their ecosystem. Rather than prescribing the separation of structure and function upfront, system operators must rely on a responsiveness of digital technology to integrate functionality upon instantiation. With this view we add to the idea of modularity underlying digital technology ecosystems by qualifying the dynamic of digital technology that enable the interaction of otherwise unrelated organizations to interoperate.

05/28/2019 Per Davidsson

Per Davidsson

(Queensland University of Technology)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

The Whys, Dos and Don'ts of Reviewing for Scholarly Journals

This seminar combines two topics of relevance to most scholars regardless of specialization. In the first part, Per will discuss reviewing for journals, based on his rich experience as author, reviewer, and editor. In the second part, Per shares his experience-based views about writing papers that have influence and get highly cited. Per’s experience is from scholarship in business in general and entrepreneurship in particular. This said, his scholarship has overlaps with psychology, sociology, economics, geography and information systems. Despite some cultural variation across fields, his observations are likely to apply quite broadly.

06/03/2019 Martin Wiener

Martin Wiener

(Bentley University)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

Perceptions of Control Legitimacy in the Gig Economy: Conceptual Dimensions and Preliminary Results

The rise of the gig economy has become a global phenomenon encompassing various industries. Instead of hiring full-time employees, gig economy companies ‘outsource’ work via online platforms to freelance workers who are paid for completing a given task (‘gig’). While gig workers are often portrayed as independent contractors, several gig firms such as Uber leverage advanced digital technologies and smart algorithms to exercise tight control over their freelance workforce. In light of this independence-control paradox, this talk draws on the IS control and related literatures to propose conceptual dimensions of gig workers’ control legitimacy perceptions. On this basis, preliminary results from a survey with Uber drivers are presented.

06/17/2019 Hajo Reijers

Hajo Reijers

(Utrecht University)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

What Can We Automate?

Ever since information technology (IT) exists, it has been used to automate work previously done by humans. Yet, whenever a new technology emerges, such as chatbots or the blockchain, it is not straightforward for organizations to assess how such a technology can be applied. Each technology has its own strengths and limitations, which even IT experts find difficult to fully understand. This talk outlines some ideas to assess what can be automated. The key idea is to match patterns in work processes with the profiles of different types of IT. If an organization has collected sufficient data on its work processes, it may be possible to automatically identify, for a given set of technologies, how these can be applied in that context. The potential of this idea is that it could set off an enormous acceleration of the automation of work.

06/24/2019 Mohammad Jabbari

Mohammad Jabbari

(Queensland University of Technology)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

How Do Users Read and Understand Multiple Models in Combination?

Information systems are based on underlying conceptual models of the real-world domain the system is intended to support. Because most systems are complex, practitioners often use many different types of models during analysis and design. We study how users work with multiple conceptual models in combination. We are conducting experiments to examine a new theory that predicts how combined ontological completeness and overlap affect understanding multiple conceptual models in combination. Our findings can help to refine and extend the theory of combined ontological completeness and ontological overlap and draw attention to the dialectics between full and parsimonious real-world representations that could improve understanding.

07/01/2019 Suranjan Chakraborty

Suranjan Chakraborty

(Towson University)

Gremienraum (Pohlighaus, Ground floor)

Through the Looking Glass: An Exploratory Study of Qualitative Research and Text Mining Co-Use

The abundance and availability of the vast amounts of data generated in today’s information age has garnered significant interest from qualitative analysis researchers. However, the juxtaposition of big data and the time-intensive procedures of qualitative research poses a substantial methodological challenge. While some work has been proposed to fully-automate qualitative analysis of large data corpuses using machine-learning approaches, they remove the inherent, tacit skill of sensemaking from an experienced qualitative researcher. Thus, there is lack of scalable analysis approaches that combine the efficiency of machine-based analysis with the sensitivity of manual analysis. To address the challenge of scaling up manual qualitative analysis in the context of big data, this work explores the co-use of machine-aided approaches with a qualitative analysis approach, Grounded Theory Method (GTM). In doing so, this paper makes three contributions. First, an illustration is provided of the enactment of the co-use of text mining and GTM (Open Coding) on a large, text corpus of 1,010 privacy policies of the most popular websites. Second, theoretical challenges (loss of document-context sensitivity, loss of sensitivity to contextual uniqueness, and weakened analytic confidence) that emerged from the enactment of the co-use are detailed. Third, three patterns (independent substituting, independent supplementing, and interleaved reinforcing) of co-use are developed and discussed.