Shahla Ghobadi

Shahla Ghobadi


My research passion is to study software that changes lives. I examine the human and social processes that revolve around developing software. I also study the use of social software for online activism that challenges powerful organisations to change. At the University of Leeds, I am 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. 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. In the areas of my expertise, I write also 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 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 in Asia and Australia 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 development firms 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 development firms 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 development firms 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.  

PhD Supervision

I welcome working with PhD students as well as postdocs who are 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):

  1. Innovation and creativity in the design and development of digital products/services
  2. Digital disruption
  3. Crowdsourcing/Crowdfunding
  4. Ethics in developing information systems 
  5. Digital workforce and new generations
  6. Politics of using the Internet and online activism

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