The Importance of Time: Managing Temporal Complexity in IS Research

Schedule and location

Tuesday March 6th - Wednesday March 7th

Aalto University BIZ (Runeberginkatu 22-24, Helsinki)  Chydenia building, room G109 


Registration is open February 12th - February 26th.


Prof. Kieran Conboy, Lero Software Research Centre and National University of Ireland, Galway


Professor Virpi Tuunainen, Aalto University School of Business, Finland.


Time is a critically important element of IS research. However, time is an inherently complex, multi-faceted, subtle and socially-embedded in nature. While IS researchers are quick to highlight the impact of ICTs on the speed of organizational and social life, they can be slow to address the multi-dimensional, complex and nuanced nature of time in IS research (Saunders and Kim, 2007, Shen et al., 2014, Nandhakumar, 2002). Despite a strong consensus that richer conceptualizations of time are required (Adam, 2008, Bluedorn et al., 1999, Dubinskas, 1988), time remains theoretically elusive in contemporary studies of work (Saunders and Kim, 2007), often included only as a ‘hidden dimension’ (Das, 1991).

The workshop will begin by addressing temporality - why it is important and how it can be embedded into research design. A tutorial on the principles and guidelines that underpin temporality will be offered, with a particular focus on contemporary frameworks in this area. It will address the hidden dimensions of time that we often ignore or underestimate in our research. To illustrate these issues, we will critique a past EJIS paper in terms of its failings in dealing with temporal issues. Workshop participants will reflect on their own research design in terms of time- potential flaws, challenges and which temporal complexities may be particularly relevant to their study. Together, we will identify these issues and opportunities, and find ways to improve each attendee’s research design and execution to overcome these challenges and exploit these opportunities.

Intended Audience:

The workshop is aimed not just at researchers who are or may be thinking of studying time as a part of their research. It is aimed at all researchers who want to improve the accuracy and publishability of their research by more effectively addressing time issues in their theoretical framing, research design and thesis/paper writing.

Detailed Program

Agenda for Day 1




The importance of time in IS research




Contemporary frameworks for managing temporal complexity




Exercise: Which time complexities are most relevant to my research?




Critique of EJIS Budgetary Control (2010) paper

Exercise: What are the dangers/challenges of ignoring or underestimating temporal complexities?


Reflection and Day 1 Closing

 Agenda for Day 2


Recap of Day 1


Exercise: What hidden rich findings/insights can be gained by studying them more explicitly




Exercise: What techniques will I use to overcome these challenges/uncover these insights?


Final Reflections on Temporality




1-1 discussions


Some parts of the workshop will be based on the following articles. Additional published and unpublished material will also be presented.

  • Ancona DG, Okhuysen GA and Perlow LA. (2001) Taking time to integrate temporal research. Academy of Management Review 26: 512-529. 
  • Conboy, K. (2010) 'Project Failure En Masse: A Study of Loose Budgetary Control in ISD Projects'. European Journal of Information Systems, 19 :273-287
  • Kavanagh D, Lightfoot G and Lilley S. (2007) Running to stand still: late modernity's acceleration fixation. Cultural Politics, 3(1), pp.95-122.
  • Mosakowski E and Earley PC. (2000) A selective review of time assumptions in strategy research. Academy of Management Review 25: 796-812.
  • Orlikowski WJ and Yates J. (2002) It's about time: Temporal structuring in organizations. Organization Science 13: 684-700.
  • Shen Z, Lyytinen K and Yoo Y. (2014) Time and information technology in teams: a review of empirical research and future research directions. European Journal of Information Systems 24: 492-518.


Credit points

Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 2 credit points. This requires participating on all of the days and completing the assignment.


Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 400 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials. Lunch and dinner are not included.