Thesis Topics

Thank you for your interest in writing a Bachelor's or Master's thesis at the Chair of Information Systems Management. Below you find the current list of our research topics. If you think one of these topics sounds promising, we are happy to hear from you. Unless otherwise noted, thesis topics are open to Bachelor and Master students, can start immediately and should be preferably written in English language. Get in touch with us ideally 8 weeks before your intended start.

Important for bachelor students: Experience in scientific work in the field of IS/MIS is required, i.e. successful completion of the WAWI module and/or successful participation in an ISM seminar.

If you applied for one or more thesis topics at our chair, please add the topic and the supervisor to your request mail.

Topics

Exaptations in digital innovation: Can we measure misuse of digital components?

Exaptations in digital innovation: Can we measure misuse of digital components?

Recombination is the heart of innovation. Due to digital technologies and their recombinatorial characteristics and new paradigms like the modular layered architecture of digital innovations the recombinatorial space is exploding. Research in related fields already suggests a specific type of recombination: Exaptation. While there are approaches to measure exaptation in innovation reasearch, there is no similar research regarding digital innovations. The goal is to synthesize different approaches of measuring exaptations and compare the applicability to the new developed digital innovations.

Method: literature review and design science

Language: Preferably english, German possible

Literature to start:

  • Andriani, P., Ali, A., & Mastrogiorgio, M. (2017). Measuring exaptation and its impact on innovation, search, and problem solving. Organization Science, 28(2), 320-338.
  • Yoo, Y., Henfridsson, O., & Lyytinen, K. (2010). Research commentary—the new organizing logic of digital innovation: an agenda for information systems research. Information systems research, 21(4), 724-735.
  • Holmström, J. (2018). Recombination in digital innovation: Challenges, opportunities, and the importance of a theoretical framework. Information and organization, 28(2), 107-110.

Supervisor: Yannick Hildebrandt

Managing Virtual Teams - A Literature Review

The management of virtual teams in software development and digital innovation projects is a long-standing research field in the areas of business informatics, computer science and management. The goal of this thesis is to provide an overview of the state of the art in this research area, to structure existing research findings appropriately, and to identify new/open research questions.

Typical research questions in this field are:
- How should virtual teams be composed? Which personality profiles, individual skill mixes, prior knowledge, team compositions, etc. are successful and how?
- How should virtual teams be supported technologically? Which technological success factors determine the performance of virtual teams?
- How should virtual teams be managed and controlled? Which approaches to incentivizing/motivating and controlling are successful and how?
- What role does outsourcing of tasks play? How do the answers to the preceding questions change when the virtual team consists of members from customer and service provider companies of an outsourcing relationship?

Method: structured literature review (Webster/Watson or similar)
Language: German or English, preferably English.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn

The catalyst of serendipity: Exaptation and the digital mindset

Due to digital technologies and their recombinatorial characteristics and new paradigms like the modular layered architecture of digital innovations the recombinatorial opportunities are exploding. A special result of recombination is exaptation, where recombinated components change their originally intended function. Mostly this happens through serendipity. As people in the digital age - with a digital mindset - systematically think in recombinatorial patterns and potentially enforce unintentional functions of digital components, exaptations gain relevance in the digital age.

To unravel the phenomenon and its characteristics like serendipity, various research questions arise e.g.:

  • Is Exaptation and its characteristics like serendipity still applicable in the digital age?
  • Is there a link between the digital mindset or aspects of the digital mindset and exaptations in the digital age?

Method: Various as it depends on the research question (Lit. Review, Case Study, Interviews, Survey)

Language: Preferably english, German possible

Literature to start:

  • Holmström, J. (2018). Recombination in digital innovation: Challenges, opportunities, and the importance of a theoretical framework. Information and organization, 28(2), 107-110.
  • Beltagui, A., Rosli, A., & Candi, M. (2020). Exaptation in a digital innovation ecosystem: The disruptive impacts of 3D printing. Research policy, 49(1), 103833.
  • Andriani, P., & Cattani, G. (2016). Exaptation as source of creativity, innovation, and diversity: introduction to the special section. Industrial and Corporate Change, 25(1), 115-131.

Supervisor: Yannick Hildebrandt

Digital Innovation Actions - How Organizations Innovate in the Digital Era

Since Schumpeter, continuous innovation has been regarded as the decisive economic driving force for the creation, maintenance, and expansion of organizational competitiveness. However, the ubiquity of digital technologies and their impact on the innovation process is changing the way companies operate in their competitive environment (Kohli & Melville 2018). While extant research elegantly highlights the various challenges that arise during the creation of digital innovation (Henfridsson et al. 2018, Nambisan et al. 2017, Svahn et al. 2017), little is known about the capabilities organizations need or which specific actions they can take in order to succeed in a digital world. Thus, Kohli and Melville (2018) call for new theories on corresponding organizational capabilities. In their recent literature review, the authors conclude that there is inconsistent knowledge within the individual phases and design fields of the innovation process. Nylén and Holmström (2015, p. 59) directly ask “Can digital innovation be managed?” Porter and Heppelmann (2015), on the other hand, believe that, while digitization reveals new technological opportunities, the rules of competence and competitive advantage remain unchanged. “Hence, there appears to be a misalignment between demands in the marketplace and organizational capabilities to respond” (Kohli and Melville, 2018, p. 1). The aim of this thesis is to validate previously collected digital innovation actions through an online-survey.

Method: Online-Survey

Language: preferably english

Literature for getting started:

Ciriello, R. F., Richter, A., & Schwabe, G. (2018). Digital innovation. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 60(6), 563-569.

Hellwig, L., Pawlowski, J., & Schäfer, M. (2020). An Innovation Activity Framework for Digital Innovation. In Proceedings of the 2020 on Computers and People Research Conference (pp. 10-19).

Mittermeier, F., Hund, A., Beimborn, D., Wagner, H. (2021). Towards a Conceptual Model Model of Digital Innovation Success. Forthcoming in: Proceedings of the 21st ACM SIGMIS Conference on Computer and People Research, Nuremberg (will beprovided upon request)

 

Supervisor: Ferdinand Mittermeier

Creating an objective way of evaluating peoples level of digitality - developing a digital mindset test

Humans, their behavior and thinking, are named as one of the essential drivers to successfully realize and implement digital transformation (Shneiderman 2007). Mindsets constitute a part of this humanistic be-havior and thinking, enabling and supporting humans at solving tasks in a specific context through cogni-tive processes, filters or beliefs (Dweck 2006; Gollwitzer 1990; Gupta and Govindarajan 2002).

The IS literature frequently mentions the “digital mindset” as a crucial factor of digitalization (Nambisan et al. 2017; Warner and Wäger 2019). Researchers call it a significant influence factor on the role of CDOs promoting digital transformation (Singh and Hess 2017), a required lens to view on business strategies to improve digital customer experience and effectiveness (Lucas and Goh 2009), or as generally required to “[…] leverage digital technologies effectively” (Kane et al. 2017, p. 40). There are several first conceptualizations and self-evaluating measurement models for the digital mindset. To contribute to the theory and enable an objective way to measure the construct, a sufficient test should be developed based on former research.

Method: Design Science

Language: Preferably english, German possible

Literature to start: Upon request as papers are currently under review.

Supervisor: Yannick Hildebrandt

Technology Forecasting - How reliable is the Gartner Hype Cycle?

Gartner’s Hype Cycle is one of the most frequently published and cited technology forecasts. But, how reliable, consistent, and accurate is it? Objective of this thesis is to set up a data base of historical Gartner hype cycle reports and compare both their consistency over time and their accuracy mapping it with other data sources.

Method: Secondary data analysis, potential for use of AI-based pattern recognition techniques

Language: preferably English

Literature for getting started:

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn

Measuring Social Networks – A Comparison of Information Systems Research and Organization Sciences

Social networks have been an exciting object of research for many decades and the methodology of Social Network Analysis (SNA) is very popular. However, it is not easy to collect data showing who knows whom or who communicates with whom and how often. From direct surveys to the evaluation of e-mail log files and the use of social badges worn by company employees, there are many different methods.

The goal of this thesis is to analyze the two literature fields of Business Informatics and Organization Science with regard to which survey methods of the SNA social networks have been empirically measured so far and which empirical findings have been obtained on the basis of the measurements in each case. In a meta-analytical comparative approach, statements on the influence of SNA survey methods and key figures on empirical findings will then be inductively derived.

Method: Literature Review, Meta Analysis

Language of Thesis: Preferably English, German possible

Literature for getting started:

  • Methodical foundations: http://www.socialcapitalgateway.org/NV-eng-measurement.htm (Wasserman and Faust, 1994; Scott, 2000; Van der Gaag, Snijders and Flap, 2004)
  • SNA in Information Systems: (Espinosa, Cummings, Wilson and Pearce, 2003; Klein, Lim, Saltz and Mayer, 2004; McLure Wasko and Faraj, 2005; Vidgen, Henneberg and Naudé, 2007; Kane and Alavi, 2008; Trier, 2008; Fischbach, Schoder and Gloor, 2009; Lee, Heng and Lee, 2009; Lim, Saldanha, Malladi and Melville, 2009; Sykes, Venkatesh and Gosain, 2009; Oinas-Kukkonen, Lyytinen and Yoo, 2010; Yu, Hao, Dong and Khalifa, 2010) (Chellappa and Saraf, 2010) and others in JAIS 2/2010 Special Issue,(Wijngaert, Vermaas and Bouwman, 2008) (Ho and Chang, 2009)
  • Organization Science: (Umphress, Labianca, Brass, Kass and Scholten, 2003)
  • Other Sources:
    • In (Yang, Lee and Kurnia, 2009): Hampton 2003, Hampton/Wellman 2003, Kavanaugh et al. 2005, Haythornthwaite 2001, 2002, Matzat 2004)
    • In  (Kane and Alavi, 2008): Ahuja/Galletta, Ahuja et al., Borgatti/Cross, Sparrowe et al.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn

For master students only

Innovation through Outsourcing

Research aim of this master thesis is to analyze whether outsourcing vendors that invest more into innovation for their clients are more successful. Based on some previous works of the Chair of Information Systems Management and on secondary firm performance data, the student will analyze a.  large data set of international outsourcing vendors, their innovation activities, and their performance metrics (revenue, market shares etc.). Outcome should be to show whether particular types of innovation activities lead to more market success than others.

Method: secondary statistical analysis

Language of Thesis: English

Literature for getting started:

  • Meiser/Beimborn: Innovation in Outsourcing – An Empirical Analysis of Outsourcing Vendors’ Innovation Approaches, International Conference on Outsourcing Information Services (ICOIS), Mannheim, 2019. (available on request)

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn

Success Factors of IT Nearshore Outsourcing Relationships

Aim of this master thesis is to analyze a rich set of qualitative data (about 120 recorded interviews from about 20 case studies) on the management of outsourcing relationships between German/Swiss client firms and Eastern/Central European IT service providers in various countries. Aim is to identify different strategies for managing vendor personnel and activities and evaluating their effectiveness. This study can be extended by collecting new cases, in particular, on failed nearshore outsourcing relationships.

Method: qualitative analysis

Language of Thesis: English

Literature for getting started:

  • Carmel/Abbott: Why ‘nearshore’ means that distance matters. Communications of the ACM, Oct 2007.
  • von Stetten: Control Modes in IT Outsourcing. Zeitschrift für erfolgsorientierte Unternehmenssteuerung (27:12), 2015, pp. 703ff
  • von Stetten/Beimborn/Weitzel: Analyzing and Managing the Impact of Cultural Behavior Patterns in Social Capital in Multinational IT Project Teams. Business & Information Systems Engineering (BISE), 2012, pp. 137ff.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn

It's the being, not the acting – Aspects of the digital mindset in digital transformation

Humans, their behavior and thinking, are named as one of the essential drivers to successfully realize and implement digital transformation (Shneiderman 2007). Mindsets constitute a part of this humanistic be-havior and thinking, enabling and supporting humans at solving tasks in a specific context through cognitive processes, filters or beliefs (Dweck 2006; Gollwitzer 1990; Gupta and Govindarajan 2002).

The IS literature frequently mentions the “digital mindset” as a crucial factor of digitalization (Nambisan et al. 2017; Warner and Wäger 2019). Researchers call it a significant influence factor on the role of CDOs promoting digital transformation (Singh and Hess 2017), a required lens to view on business strategies to improve digital customer experience and effectiveness (Lucas and Goh 2009), or as generally required to “[…] leverage digital technologies effectively” (Kane et al. 2017, p. 40). In previous research of the chair we could identify various different aspects of the digital mindset. For further refinement of the concept and insights regarding the theory of the digital mindset, the question arise which of these aspects are pronounced in different industry sections or hierarchy levels in a company. Therefore, a qualitative inter- or intraorganizational approach could shed light on the concrete existence of the phenomenon.

Method: Qualitative (interviews, single case study, multi-case study)

Language: Preferably English, German possible

Literature to start:

  • von Preußen, P. W., & Beimborn, D. (2019). Turning Mentoring Around–A Case-based Analysis of the Outcomes of Digital Reverse Mentoring.
  • Further digital mindset literature upon request

Supervisor: Yannick Hildebrandt

Quantifying the digital divide - How big is the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants?

Digital natives and their ubiquitous exposition to digital technologies are attributed different digital skills or ways of thinking. This discrepancy between digital natives and the generation of digital immigrants is called the digital divide. Actions for digital qualification or mentoring programs (Von Preußen & Beimborn, 2019) try to address and reduce this digital divide. Currently, the extent and concrete characteristics of this digital divide are unknown. In former chair research, we could conceptualize and operationalize the digital mindset, which is one aspect of the digital divide. Therefore by empirical investigations and applications of the measurement model, important insights about the extent and characteristics of the digital divide can be generated.

 

Method: Empirical work

Language: Preferably English, German possible

Literature to start:

  • Koutropoulos, A. (2011). Digital natives: Ten years after. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(4), 525-538.
  • von Preußen, P. W., & Beimborn, D. (2019). Turning Mentoring Around–A Case-based Analysis of the Outcomes of Digital Reverse Mentoring.
  • Further digital mindset literature upon request

Supervisor: Yannick Hildebrandt

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Meaningfulness of Work

Since the 1970s, motivational factors for employees have been researched and summarized under the concept "Meaningfulness of Work". The aim of this thesis is to conduct a quantitative, hypothesis-based study on the extent to which the increase of artificial intelligence approaches in the everyday work of employees has an influence (positive vs. negative) on these motivational factors and their effect.  The starting point can be the Job Characteristics Theory of (Hackman/Oldham 1975), which can then be extended to include the influence of AI. The work can be based on already existing work of the chair.

Literature to start:

Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1975): Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60(2), 159-170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0076546

Strich, F., Mayer, A.-S., Fiedler, M. (2021): What Do I Do in a World of Artificial Intelligence? Investigating the Impact of Substitutive Decision-Making AI Systems on Employees’ Professional Role Identity. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 22(2), article 9. https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais/vol22/iss2/9/

Method: Quantitative, Online-Survey

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn

 

Response Rates in Empirical Organizational IS Research – Conducting a Meta-Analysis of Success Factors of Survey Design

Achieving high response rates in survey-based empirical studies is a challenging endeavor. Managers have little time and receive more questionnaires, which reduces their willingness to participate in surveys. In turn, for researchers, it is mission-critical to design survey processes in a way that the study attracts participation of as many managers as possible.

Aim of this master’s thesis is to review existing empirical studies in the Information Systems discipline which did survey-based studies at the organizational level (e.g., outsourcing management, IT business value, IT change & transformation, organizational adoption of IT/IS). A meta-analysis shall compare the studies with regard to their design (which companies, which manager roles, which “incentives”, which countries etc.) and try to identify factors that lead to higher vs. lower response rates.

An example for a comparable study of another research discipline can be found in (Hiebl/Richter 2018).

Method: literature review, meta-analysis

Language of master’s thesis: English

Literature for getting started:

  • Hiebl, M.R., Richter, J.F. (2018): Response Rates in Management Accounting Survey Research. Journal of Management Accounting Research (30:2), pp. 59-79.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn   

Development of a dashboard to manage DeepTech startups

DeepTech startups develop novel technological solutions that are usually accompanied by more comprehensive scientific and engineering challenges. Accordingly, the difference to many other startups lies in a particularly lengthy "closed" R&D phase, correspondingly higher capital requirements and comparatively specific market entries (rarely MVPs, mostly B2B context, etc.). Conversely, even in their early development phase, DeepTech startups are very exciting not only for venture capitalists but also for later buyers of the developed solutions, as the insights gained in the research process can often be put to use in a variety of ways. The task of the master thesis is to identify/develop the KPIs that are exciting from the point of view of such a company and to transfer them into a dashboard that enables continuous monitoring of DeepTech startups that are in a development partnership with the specific company.


The thesis is written in cooperation with Lutz GmbH, a highly innovative company in the textile and materials industry, Bamberg.

Methodology: Design Science, Action Design Research

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Daniel Beimborn