Shahla Ghobadi

Shahla Ghobadi


At the University of Leeds, I am Associate Professor of Information Management. I am also Business School Academic Lead for Inclusive Education Practices. I completed Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of New South Wales, with a background in IT Management and Industrial Engineering. I am passionate about understanding the human and social processes that revolve around developing software. I also explore the use of social software for online activism that challenges powerful organisations to change. My research employs in-depth, qualitative studies to reveal novel, hidden, and nuanced meaning in empirical data. 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 write also for The Conversation and engage with the media, not-for-profit organisations, and businesses in the areas of my expertise. 

Before coming to Leeds, I was an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the University of Manchester (2015-2019), where I received Social Responsibility Award in Curriculum at the Faculty of Humanities, followed by a Making a Difference Commended award. Prior to that, I was a Visiting Scholar at J.Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University in 2014. Before joining academia, I worked in automobile, eScience, and software industries as a consultant and project manager. I have also engaged with executives and scientists in a range of industries and advised startups in the fields of mobile apps and online services. Industry has inspired and significantly enriched my research on collaboration in software organisations and social change. 


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


Software is all around us— from social networking and enterprise software to mobile apps and video games. My research studies software from two angles: 

1. How do software organisations manage the human and social aspects of development to build more innovative and impactful software? I study questions that cover 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 organisations work (business model change, financing).

2. How do social activists leverage socia netoworking software to put persistent pressure on target organisations and elicit their concessions and committment to change? My research explores the use of social software by social movement organisations, the long-term processes of online activism, and the prevalence of digital divide in the society. 

3. More recently, I have pursued a third research stream that examines how strategic signalling by professional organisations in academia influences the evolution of academic fields.  


I am always keen to work with PhD students as well as postdocs who are passionate about writing and academic research. My goal as a research advisor is to train students to produce rigorous, relevant, and innovative research and encourage them to become exemplary researchers. There are various opportunities to dive into projects that advance the literature on both online activism and the human and social aspects of developing software. 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. Aim for helping me feel confident that you are a good fit and that your research question connects to the areas of my research  expertise.


  • Business School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practices

Professional memberships

  • Association for Information Systems
  • Academy of Management

Student education

I presently teach 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 contemporary industrial examples to cultivate students' critical thinking, creativity, and practicality in tackling business problems. 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