Shahla Ghobadi

Shahla Ghobadi


Software that eases and enriches lives generates economic and societal value. My research passion is to advance understanding of how such software is developed and used. In doing so, I conduct in-depth studies examining software products, software companies, and the social aspects of their development. My research usually employs qualitative and longitudinal studies to reveal novel, hidden, and nuanced meaning in empirical data. At the University of Leeds, I am an Associate Professor of Information Management. I am also Business School Academic Lead for Inclusive Education Practices (SALIP). I completed Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of New South Wales, with a background in IT Management and Industrial Engineering. I have published in leading journals such as Journal of Management Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Information and Organization, Information & Management, Information Systems Frontiers, Behaviour & Information Technology, Information Processing & Management, and Journal of Systems and Software. Additionally, I serve as an Associate Editor at the Information Systems Journal and on the review panel of other leading journals. For my research, I have received competitive awards from recognised bodies such as the British Academy (2017), Australian Government (2014), and Australian School of Business (2008-2011). My research can be accessed at Google Scholar and Researchgate. I also write for The Conversation and Medium, share podcasts, and engage with the media, not-for-profit organisations, and businesses.

Before coming to Leeds, I was an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the University of Manchester (2015-2019), where I received the Social Responsibility Award in Curriculum at the Faculty of Humanities, followed by a Making a Difference Commended award. Before that, I was a Visiting Scholar at J.Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, in 2014. Before joining academia, I worked 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 and significantly enriched my research on collaboration in software development firms and social change. 


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


From social media to productivity tools to smart home apps to digital games, software has eased and enriched lives. My research studies software from two perspectives:

1. How do software companies manage the social aspects of development? I ask questions that advance the literature in three key areas: (1) Who builds software (digital natives), (2) How people collaborate to build software (knowledge sharing, agile development, risk management, coopetitioncrowdfunding), and (3) How software companies operate at a business level (business model change, financing).

2. How do users leverage software to achieve societal impacts? I have focused on software for socio-political activism, it's opportunities, challenges, and strategic implications. For example, I have explored how social movement organisations leverage social networking software to put persistent pressure on target organisations and elicit their concessions and commitment to change. My earlier research also examined and theorised around the long-term processes of online activism and the prevalence of digital divide in the society. As part of my research in this area, I am on the board of the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies

I have also pursued a research stream that conceptualises how strategic signalling by professional organisations in academia influences the evolution of academic fields. 

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):

  • Developing digital (software apps, platforms): knowledge sharing, agile, innovation, creativity, workfoce, transformation, disruption, crowdsourcing, business ethics
  • Online activism for human-related rights

If you think of working with me, please send me (1) a CV, and a (2) 3-page research proposal (excluding references). Your proposal should elaborate the ‘research question’ you are asking. The research question should describe (1) how it will advance the larger body of knowledge, as well as (2) its connection to your academic ambitions and personal goals. Don’t be overly technical—aim for clarity and explain the phenomenon of your interest with relevant examples.


  • Business School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practices (SALIP)

Professional memberships

  • Association for Information Systems
  • Academy of Management

Student education

At Leeds, I am the course leader for the module Managing Digital Information Projects. Since 2008, I have designed, implemented, and taught courses at the intersection of organisations and new technology at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive levels. My course development is based on research and industry examples to cultivate students' critical thinking, creativity, and practicality in tackling business and social issues. 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.

Research groups and institutes

  • Adaptation Information Management and Technology

Current postgraduate researchers