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Interviews | Jan 06, 2017 |

Talking with…Mark Silver

Mark SilverEach “Talking with…” feature introduces you to a different Gabelli School faculty, administrator, or staff member. This week, get to know Mark Silver, associate professor for information systems.

You’ve had a long career at Fordham so far. What has kept you here?
Every college and university says it is committed to teaching. You have to say it. But when Fordham says it, it means it. Class sizes are relatively small, and there is a serious commitment to the academic and intellectual development of each individual student.

What excites you about your current research?
My research focuses on the connection between the design features of IT artifacts and the behavior of their users, which I see as the central question in information systems (IS) research. Many design scientists focus on designing features without paying sufficient attention to their likely consequences. Many behavioralists focus on IT use without paying sufficient attention to the antecedents of that behavior. I advocate “end-to-end” research that takes us from the designers’ intentions, to the features of the technologies they design, to the behavior of users, and ultimately to the consequences of that behavior.

Two IT attributes I have identified that are especially important for understanding IT consequences are “system restrictiveness” (the way in which an IT artifact constrains its users) and “decisional guidance” (the way in which an artifact, deliberately or not, influences the behavior of its users subject to those constraints). Consistent with this view, I am one of a set of IS researches that has in recent years advanced an “affordance” view of IT use.

Is there a recent development in IT you think everyone should be aware of, even if they’re not in the field?
There are always hot technologies—for instance, business analytics and cloud computing, today—of which people need to be aware. But in an era such as ours where technology is advancing rapidly and new technologies are constantly arriving on the scene, what people need to know most is “how to think about IT” so they will be able to adapt to whatever technologies come along. I have developed a lens for viewing IT and a set of fundamental principles for thinking about IT. I incorporate the lens and these principles in my classes and they are the basis for a book I am currently writing.

Which journals do you make it a priority to keep up with, regardless of how busy you are?
The two premier information systems journals are MIS Quarterly and Information Systems Research, so I always scan their tables of contents. I am an associate editor of the European Journal of Information Systems, and I typically find the articles published there very worthwhile. The Journal of the Association for Information Systems—a peer-reviewed online journal—is a fourth “A” journal that I find valuable.

Aside from the unification, what’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in the Gabelli School over the years?
I would say two things. First is the dramatically increased commitment to research, and not just any research, but research with impact. Second, across the board, staff support and organization have improved tremendously. Both faculty and students receive far more support—and more effective support—from the administration and staff than when I first arrived.

Do you have any advice for students looking to study information systems?
Today, companies require effective partnerships between technologists and business people. That’s why every Gabelli student needs to understand the basics of IS and IT and why specializing in IS is such a great idea. My advice to IS students is to leverage being in the right place at the right time. They should make sure they have sufficient strength in both technology and business, and they should make sure potential employers are aware of these complementary strengths. There are lots of exciting and lucrative jobs in this domain.

 

Fun questions

Movie you wish had a sequel:
Being There

Movie you wish didn’t have a sequel:
The Gods Must be Crazy

Favorite app on your phone:
Google Translate

Favorite book:
Catch-22

Best part of the holiday season:
Spending time with family and friends

Where you’d like to go on your next vacation:
Israel

 

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