About

The Information Work Research Group (IWRG), centered in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, is interested in information work broadly conceived, including work that employs information technologies as well as work that builds information technologies. The IWRG's interest spans for-profit as well as non-profit sectors of the economy, whether the work is done by IT workers or by others.

Topics currently of interest to IWRG faculty include, among others:

  • software development (including free and open source software)
  • offshoring and outsourcing (more generally, the distribution of information workers)
  • education and training for information workers
  • gender, racial, and ethnic issues in the information workforce
  • integration of information work and information technology into various application domains, e.g. the auto industry or science
  • computer-supported cooperative work
  • social media and work
  • the trajectory of information work careers
  • professionalization, ethics, and information work

IWRG faculty members have expertise in the social sciences, including sociology, organizational studies, communication studies, science and technology studies, political science, public policy, and history. The faculty educates graduate students at the doctoral and master's levels (typically through joint advising of students), organizing lecture series, participating in reading groups, and conducting joint research projects.

IWRG Director:

James Howison

James Howison examines the impact of information technology, especially software, on the organization of work. His current work focuses on the organization of scientific software production.

Prior to coming to UT Austin James undertook a post-doc at Carnegie Mellon University in the School of Computer Science. James holds a Ph.D. from the Information School at Syracuse University. His dissertation brought together the study of motivation and organization among community-based Free and Open Source software projects, developing a theory of collaboration through superposition. His publications include articles in ACM Computing Surveys, IEEE Computer, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications, Software Process Improvement and Practice as well as Knowledge, Technology and Policy. He has presented at the International Conferences for Information Systems (ICIS) and Software Engineering (ICSE) and the Academy of Management. He was selected as a participant at the ICIS doctoral consortium in 2007 and the NSF-funded workshop on the Science of Socio-technical Systems in 2008. He has been invited to speak at O'Reilly's eTech, OSCON, FOOcamp and SciFOO conferences.

Born in Scotland, James grew up in Australia, earning his undergraduate Economics degree from the University of Sydney. He pursued masters study in Software Engineering at the University of New South Wales before transferring to the Syracuse Ph.D. in 2002. Prior to returning to graduate school James worked in information systems implementation with KPMG management consultants, on distance education with Burmese refugees in Thailand and as a consultant with Control Risks Group, an international crisis management consultancy. During his PhD he worked with Charles River Venture Capital providing research on opportunities in the open source software space.

Principal Investigators:

Diane Bailey

Diane Bailey (BS, MS, and PhD industrial engineering and operations research University of California, Berkeley). Bailey recently led a ten-year study of the role of advanced IT, including sophisticated computational software, in engineering analysis and design, resulting in publications in top organizational studies, engineering, and communication journals. With an expertise in organizational ethnography, she favors large-scale empirical studies, often involving multiple occupations, countries, and researchers. Her current research investigates remote occupational socialization, or how, via IT, individuals learn and perform occupations far from communities of similar practitioners.

Tanya Clement

Tanya Clement studies the dynamic interplay of digital information systems and scholarly research in the humanities. Just as researchers in science and technology studies (STS) examine how scientists employ technology and health informatics scholars study the information-seeking behaviors of patients, Clement conducts research in humanities informatics (Europe) or digital humanities (United States) to investigate the increasing use of digital information systems in humanities scholarship and in cultural heritage institutions. In her research, she considers the data, algorithms,software, platforms, and networks that comprise digital information systems as co-constructed with the services, practices, and policies that enable scholarship. Often working colaboratively, she leads teams to build and analyze digital information systems in the humanities,and uses the findings these acitivies generate to advance theory. Her work involves imagining what we don't know by evaluating and rethinking how scholars and institutions generate, curate, and interpret humanities data in contexts that are constantly shifting due to rapidly changing resources and technologies.

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