The Shaping of the Scandinavian Socio-technical IS Research Tradition: Confessions of an Accomplice

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This paper relates stories instrumental in shaping the career of an individual and which have also contributed to shaping of the IS field in general and the ‘Scandinavian Socio-Technical (S/T) Information Systems Research Tradition’ in particular. The method in this paper is an autoethnography (Lanamäki, 2015) of Niels Bjørn-Andersen from Copenhagen Business School (CBS), an S/T researcher who started his career in Information Systems at CBS on 1 September 1969, at a time when the IS field for all practical purposes did not exist. It is written as a dialogue that includes both the confessional voice of the autoethnographer and the questioning voice of a younger researcher, the second author, who wants to bridge S/T into the future. The main contributions of this paper are to provide: 1) insights into career development in IS in general and in one of the Scandinavian IS pioneers in particular; 2) a historic account of some of the key events in the early days of S/T IS in Scandinavia; 3) an account of the experiences and the challenges in creating a new research field such as IS; and 4) a summary of Niels’s key learnings hopefully relevant to young and mid-career IS researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalScandinavian Journal of Information Systems
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)79–118
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Scandinavian IS research
  • Socio-technical tradition
  • Academic career
  • Autoethnography
  • Historical method

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