Shahla Ghobadi

Shahla Ghobadi


I am a Professor of Information Management & Business School Academic Lead for Inclusive Education Practices (SALIP) at the University of Leeds. I completed Ph.D. in Information Systems from UNSW, with a background in IT Management and Industrial Engineering. I serve as an Associate Editor at the Information Systems Journal, in the editorial board of the British Journal of Management, and on the review panel of leading journals in management and information systems. In Leeds, I was highly commended in Business School Faculty Partnership Award in 2022 (Equality and Inclusion). Before Leeds, I was an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the University of Manchester, where I received the Social Responsibility Award in Curriculum at the Faculty of Humanities, followed by a Making a Difference Commended award. In 2014, I was a Visiting Scholar at J.Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta. 

My research passion is to advance the understanding of how digital applications, including software products, platforms, and artificial intelligence, are developed and used to enhance lives. I employ a range of methods, including qualitative and longitudinal studies, as well as surveys, social network analysis, and behavioral experiments, to explore empirical data. I have published in leading journals such as Journal of the Association for Information Systems, British Journal of Management, Journal of Management Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Information & Management, Information and Organization, International Journal of Information Management, Information Systems Frontiers, among others. 

My research can be accessed at Google Scholar and Researchgate.

I have received competitive awards from recognised bodies such as the British Academy (2017), Australian Government (2014), and Australian School of Business (2008-2011).  I also write for The ConversationMedium, and lead podcasts on topics at the intersection of business, technology, and society. I have given talks at research institutions (e.g., London School of Economics, Washington State University, St Gallen University), software companies (e.g., Atlassian, Cafe Bazar), and community outlets (e.g., Centennial College, Toronto; The Photographers’ Gallery, University of Art London; St. Mary High School). I have acted as external PhD examiner for doctoral dissertations at global universities, and serve as the external Research Excellence Framework’s examiner for academic institutions in the UK. Since 2015, I have supervised several MSc/MBA/MEng dissertations & I currently supervise Ph.D. students working on projects related to digital projects, strategy, and entrepreneurship.

Before joining academia, I worked for 7 years in the automobile, eScience, and software industries in Asia and Australia as a consultant and project manager. I have also engaged with executives and scientists across various industries and advised startups about mobile apps and online services. The industry has inspired my research on collaboration in development firms and social change. In 2006, I wrote a book on System Dynamics in Farsi. Published by a premier local management publisher, the book has helped a wide range of professionals and students to apply system thinking and modelling in research and profession.


  • PhD, Information Systems 
  • MSc, IT Management
  • BEng, Industrial Engineering


  • Business School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practices (SALIP)

Research interests

1. Most of my research focuses on understanding software as a medium influencing human cognition and behaviors. I investigate the wide range of social issues in creating software by development companies and software entrepreneurs. I contribute theoretical and practical insights to enhance development processes, fostering the creation of innovative and user-centric solutions. Throughout the years, my research studies have diversified into complementary domains. Initially, my studies delved into themes of cooperation, competition, and knowledge sharing within software development teams. Over time, I expanded my exploration to encompass modern dimensions of teamwork in pair programming, agile projects, the intricacies of risk management, and the distinctive attributes and impacts of precocious users of social networking technologies on the landscape of software development. For example, the article in JMIS (2020) contributes a theoretical perspective explaining how software companies can leverage the evolving nature of technology-driven generations in the workforce to reinforce intuitive usage, promote social impact, and enhance community contributions. My introduction to the industry was rooted in observing the business practices of software entrepreneurs. This experience propelled me towards business model innovations and their convergence with the dynamics of user engagement. Consequently, my recent body of work includes in-depth analyses of development environments facilitated by crowdfunding. For example, my recent article in DSS (2023) presents a theoretical perspective for leveraging resource adversity in development environments by threading together stages of pre-adversity, adversity, and post-adversity. The article in IJIM (2023) focuses on crowdfunded environments for building software and illuminates signalling strategies that developers can employ during fundraising and development to prepare for sustained post-release activities. The article explains how backers could leverage those signals to get a sense of developers’ post-release plans. Most of my studies leverage cognitive approaches to development teams and software applications. Building on these efforts, my recent BJM (2023) contributes a cognitive method with detailed steps and recommendations to compare and elaborate on technology frames.

2. Adopting a longitudinal focus, my research also advances the understanding of digital divide and how social activists leverage digital platforms over time to drive social, political, and environmental change. The forthcoming article in JAIS (2023) explains how activists utilise social networking to foster collaborative agreements and catalyse broader social change. We emphasise how quick agreements might not indicate a positive, long-term outcome, underscoring the significance of the process for target businesses to assess strategic gains during collaboration. This builds on my earlier application of the critical mass approach in the article in IO (2015), contributing a process model for online activism's longitudinal dynamics, as well as an earlier cognitive study in B&IT on how access gaps interact and shape digital divide. This, in reference to the Conversation piece, has been featured in media and community discussions.

3. I have also pursued broader research to discuss academic fields. The article in JSIS (2017) conceptualises how strategic signaling by professional organisations in academia influences the evolution of fields and explains the implications of this process for research and practice. 

PhD Supervision

I welcome working with PhD students as well as postdocs passionate about academic research and writing. I am open to research proposals targeting the following areas and I have experience with multi-method approaches (social media analysis, surverys, in-depth field studies, ethnography):

  • Digital development: diversity, stakeholders, team dynamics, collaboration, agile, risk, user engagement, entrepreneurship, business models, ethics
  • Digital activism: mobilisation, collective action, social movements, digital divide, sustainability

If you think of working with me, the proposal must demonstrate an explicit connection with my research expertise. I consider applications that have clarified this connection. Please send me (1) a CV, and a (2) 3-page research proposal (excluding references). 

Professional memberships

  • Association for Information Systems
  • Academy of Management

Student education

I have designed and taught courses about organisations’ strategic decision making in the evolving digital society (2008-present). In Leeds, I designed and lead the MSc module ‘Managing Digital Information Projects’ (LUBS5971M). This theory-informed, empirically-driven module expands understanding of the growing complexity of digital projects and discusses diverse strategies for founding, managing, and maintaining these projects. I also offer method training for the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC). My teaching philosophy is to foster students’ capacity for longitudinal thinking, creativity, resourcefulness, and shared understanding in tackling business challenges and socio-political issues.

Research groups and institutes

  • Adaptation Information Management and Technology

Current postgraduate researchers