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Business Analytics and Information Systems, Faculty
Kevin Craig sees opportunities to help expand the focus of the European Journal of Information Systems to encompass the cultural challenges of information systems development.
Kevin Craig, assistant professor at the Harbert College of Business in the Department of Business Analytics and Information Systems, has accepted an appointment to become associate editor of the European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS), one of the most prestigious academic journals in the world covering the latest trends in information systems development. His three-year position begins January 1, 2023.
Harbert sat down with Kevin to discuss what this appointment means to him, to the field of business analytics and information systems and to the Harbert College of Business.
Let’s start with the focus of your own research and how that played into the EJIS offering you this appointment.
One of the areas I’m most interested in is how identity-related factors such as culture and social group affiliation affect technology use—resistance to technology was the basis for my Ph.D. dissertation. I was actually more interested at the time in identity in terms of social identity, role identity, but that topic was not yet appreciated as an important factor in information systems design.
Fast forward to today—elite journals like EJIS are coming around to the realization that the people who design and implement any kind of technology always think they're coming at the challenge from a good place, that they're doing the right thing. And yet they are often blindsided by the fact that, once the technology they’ve developed gets out there and people are forced to use it, users get their hackles up and everybody's like, “Whoa, why are you so upset?”
This is where identity comes in. Are the people who design and implement these technologies concerned enough with the identity of the people who end up being forced to use them? The short answer over the past few decades has been “No, they’ve not been.”
I can’t be sure, but my take is that my work in the area of the impact of cultural identity on the success of systems design was a differentiating factor in my appointment.
Can you walk us through the role of an associate editor at EJIS and how that plays into which research gets accepted for publication and what doesn’t?
The Association for Information Systems, or AIS, presides over the academic and research areas of information systems, which is basically the intersection of business and computers. And the AIS has a thing called the special interest group for social inclusion. I'm one of the people involved in that special interest group, and now researchers like me are starting to get opportunities to edit major journals like the EJIS.
What this means as an associate editor at an elite publication is that now I can start to think about the things that I believe belong in a top journal. As an academic, it's absolutely critical that we apply what's called rigor. In other words, journals like EJIS do not publish articles that do not present strong evidence of their claims.
Why is that important? Because once an article is published in a highly respected journal such as the EJIS, other scientists consider it to be true and feel comfortable going ahead and running with it as a basis for their research. In our field, that's a big deal because if an article with questionable findings gets into a top journal, everybody's going to take those findings as truth. It becomes axiomatic—and dangerous. So, rigor has to be an absolute given in all scientific journals.
And an elite journal like EJIS has an even higher standard of rigor to uphold while endeavoring to publish articles that are exciting and change the way we think about information systems. As an associate editor, I’ll have the opportunity to nurture along articles that focus on the creation of technologies that have only emerged in the last five years. I can assign reviewers that appreciate the premises and conclusions of a particular piece of research and are willing to work with the authors to better support their findings—if possible.
What does it mean to the Harbert College of Business for you to be representing Auburn in such a key position?
First of all, I would be remiss not to note that, were it not for the culture of academic rigor and inclusion of disparate ideas we enjoy here at Auburn, there’s simply no way I would have been nominated for this role.
Auburn, the Harbert College of Business, my department, my colleagues and my chair have all been very supportive of me through a difficult 2021 when my research just wasn’t catching traction in terms of publication. I was given the opportunity to just focus on making myself a better information systems social scientist.
At other colleges I would've been panicking, but not at Auburn.
In the end, the culture and drive for rigor in academic research at Auburn’s Harbert College of Business has been a perfect fit for me. Their support has inspired me to further expand the reputation of Harbert via my new role as associate editor of the European Journal of Information Systems.