For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Susan Gasson

Associate Professor

Information Science

Susan Gasson studies the design, use, and impacts of digital technologies for boundary-spanning collaboration. Her studies employ grounded theory, ethnography, and qualitative/mixed methods to investigate domains including Enterprise System design, distributed virtual organizations, peer- and vicarious learning in online education, and research networks of practice. She explores three “big questions”:

  1. How can we co-design the processual and technical aspects of information systems to support organizational adaptation, peer-learning, and effective collaboration? Understanding how to manage distributed cognition is critical for boundary-spanning design, which involves wicked problems that span knowledge domain and expertise boundaries.
  2. How is knowledge created, communicated, and shared in distributed, virtual collaboration environments? Increasingly, non-human objects mediate human relationships, as these progressively displace people in distributed knowledge networks. We may be able to identify forms of metaknowledge that work across domain boundaries by identifying mediating object roles, e.g. categorization schemes, databases, technology, or routinized practices that embed frameworks for analysis or participation.
  3. How can we ensure that technology design is human-centered? Creating new design methods and approaches is only part of the assemblage of professional design practice. The impact of technology platforms for design collaboration, the ways in which methods are implemented, and the approaches used to stakeholder requirements elicitation are all important constraints on human-centered design outcomes.
Dr. Gasson is interested in advising doctoral students interested in distributed cognition, knowledge processes and technologies, and post-social theory, that attempts to theorize the role of (material, epistemic, technical, symbolic, mediating) objects in networks of practice. Current (and recent) dissertation students work, for example, on distributed knowledge networks in archaeology research, organization and leadership in technology-mediated FOSS projects, and user involvement in distributed FOSS design, processes. These students use an ethnographic approach to better understand the theoretical and cultural construction and the various dimensions of the respective domains.


  • PhD 1998 Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK.
    Dissertation: Co-operative Information System Design: How Multi-Domain Information System Design Takes Place In UK Organizations
  • MBA 1991  (Distinction) Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK
  • BSc 1975 (Honors) Electronics/Electrical Engineering, Univ. of Kent at Canterbury, UK

Research/Teaching Interests

Co-design of business and IT-systems, distributed cognition & knowledge management in boundary-spanning groups, human-centered design, social informatics, online learning communities, Grounded Theory

Select Publications

  • Khazraee, E.K. & Gasson, S. (2014) Epistemic Objects and Embeddedness: Knowledge Construction and Narratives in Research Networks of Practice. The Information Society, forthcoming (Dec. 2014).
  • Gasson, S. & Waters, J. (2013) Using A Grounded Theory Approach To Study Online Collaboration Behaviors, European Journal of Information Systems (2013) 22, 95–118.
  • Gasson, S. (2006) A Genealogical Study of Boundary-Spanning IS Design. European Journal of Information Systems, 15 (1), pp. 1-16.
  • Gasson, S. (2005) The Dynamics Of Sensemaking, Knowledge and Expertise in Collaborative, Boundary-Spanning Design. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC), 10 (4).

Grant Awards

  • 2004-2009 CAREER: Distributed Cooperation In Boundary-Spanning IS Design. Investigates the processes and factors leading to team effectiveness in collaborative projects that span organizational groups and disciplines. $500,000, National Science Foundation, Digital Society & Technologies, (NSF 02-111), PI: Susan Gasson
  • 2007, $12,000 Trust and Perceived Risk For Disadvantaged Groups Using Online Medical Forums, Drexel University Summer Research Award, PI: David Gefen, LeBow College of Business; Co-PI: Susan Gasson.
  • 1992-1997 Management Teaching Fellowship. $150,000. UK Economic & Social Research Council. 

Awards & Recognition 

  • Academy of Management, Annual Meeting 2011, Best Paper Award (OCIS Track).
  • Emerald Literati Award for Excellence 2008, for the outstanding paper of 2007 published in the journal Information Technology & People (with K.M. Shelfer).
  • ICIS 2006 Conference, Knowledge Management Track: Best Paper in Track Award (with E.M. Elrod).
  • ICIS Doctoral Consortium, 1993: Awarded first place at UK IS Doctoral Consortium to attend US ICIS Doctoral Consortium, sponsored by Assoc. of  Info. Systems (AIS/ICIS). 

Professional Activities & Associations

  • IFIP WG8.2 (Information Systems & Organizations);  
  • Association for Information Systems (AIS);
  • Academy of Management (AoM) - Organization, Communications and Information Systems (OCIS);
  • Philadelphia Knowledge Management Group; 
  • Association For Business Process Mgmt. Professionals, Philadelphia