Dr Emma Coleman

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Immediate Past President

I obtained my PhD from Salford University, UK, in July 2012 which involved an investigation of police officers’ perceptions of the implementation of mobile devices into the policing context. Following this I joined The University of the Witwatersrand and have continued to research social contexts such as healthcare and education. I am aware of the deep inequalities that exist in society, and that information systems may either help or exacerbate these inequalities. My research therefore focuses on aspects of social and digital inclusion and the effects of this on quality of life of different social groups. Thus, my research focuses on both public service providers such as police officers, nurses and educators, and on the recipients of these services regarding how their quality of life is influenced, either positively or negatively, by global and national developments in the provision and availability of information systems. My research is consistently at the social level with a view to investigating how information systems can improve societal issues such as crime, health and education.

I view social inclusion as important to our academic field. I believe that devising strategies for greater inclusion will strengthen the capabilities and opportunities of IS academics locally and globally, and in turn increase the research impact of the field. Since early 2017 I have been actively involved in the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Social Inclusion Task Force, which is working with the Association for Information Systems (AIS) to address barriers to participation and improve AIS members’ experiences. We have provided a report to the AIS council outlining recommendations for improving social inclusion and as a result, they have agreed to set up a Diversity and Inclusion committee within the AIS organisation. I have been appointed as Region 2 Representative (Europe and Africa) on this committee. I proposed and chaired a panel on social inclusion at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. The panel was constituted of well-renowned academics in the field. I was also co-chair the SIG Social Inclusion post-ICIS Research Workshop in 2017.

I am President of the AIS South African Chapter (AISSAC) and secretary of the AIS Special Interest Group on Social Inclusion (SIGSI). I am a member of SIG Philosophy and Epistemology in Information Systems (SIGPHIL), SIG Health, and the AIS Women’s Network College (AISWN). I have brought a renowned international visiting academic over to South Africa for each year of my role in AISSAC to keynote the annual AISSAC Seminar (Bob Galliers, Brian Fitzgerald, Cathy Urquhart, and Michelle Carter). I am also a Senior Editor (IS) for the South African Computer Journal. In 2017 my co-authors and I were awarded a Best Paper Meritorious Mention award by AIS SIG Health, as well as a Wits CLM Faculty Researcher Excellence Award for the same paper.

I proposed and served as Track Chair for the European Conference in Information Systems (ECIS) 2014 ‘General Topics and Breakthrough Ideas’ track along with Brian Fitzgerald and Cathy Urquhart, both Senior Scholars within the IS field. In 2017 I was invited by Allen Lee to serve as Associate Editor for ICIS 2018 in San Francisco for the ‘IS Research Methods, Theorizing and Philosophy’ track. Nationally, I served as Conference Chair for the South African Computer Lecturers Association (SACLA) 2015 conference. I also serve as a reviewer for ‘Information Systems Journal’ (impact factor 2.777) and ‘Information Technology and People’ (impact factor 1.795).

My teaching repertoire covers research methods, information systems and society, and theoretical aspects of IS.

Research Interests

  • Research methods, theory and philosophy
  • Social inclusion, exclusion, and inequality
  • Reciprocal influence of IS on society and vice versa
  • IS perception and use in healthcare and in public sector, front-line contexts
  • The paradoxical nature of technology as both an enabler and constrainer
  • Resistance to IS in mandatory and semi-mandatory use contexts
  • ICT4D, green IS and sustainability
  • Mobile technologies
  • Social media


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