Elena Karahanna wins international lifetime achievement award

MIS professor receives LEO Award from the Association for Information Systems

Merritt Melancon | Jan. 05, 2021

The Association for Information Systems recognized Terry College of Business professor Elena Karahanna with its LEO Award, the highest award in the field of information systems, which honors seminal work by a scholar who has made exceptional contributions to the field.

The award was presented on Dec. 13 at the AIS’s International Conference on Information Systems, held this year online due to the pandemic.

The LEO Award is presented annually by AIS to “truly outstanding scholars or practitioners who have made exceptional global contributions in the field of information systems.” It recognizes individuals whose sustained contributions throughout their careers have had a far-reaching global impact on the field of information systems and beyond. They are role models to colleagues and students, preeminent representatives of the information systems community and highly esteemed for their exemplary professional and personal integrity.

A University of Georgia faculty member since 2000, Karahanna is a Distinguished Research Professor who holds the C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Distinguished Chair of Business Administration in the Department of Management Information Systems.

“Elena is one of the top scholars in information systems. Her research has achieved a major global impact and has been at the forefront of how information systems impact how individuals work, interact, communicate, coordinate and decide,” said Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. “She has worked for decades to help build the network of researchers and faculty who are shaping the field of information systems worldwide.”

Karahanna’s research focuses on the impact of information systems on work and in healthcare and, more recently, on the use and impact of bots and conversational agents. She has published extensively in top scholarly journals with over 30,000 citations to her research and is the co-author of three of the most cited papers in MIS Quarterly, one of the top two MIS journals.

“The award acknowledges sustained, global contributions and certainly Dr. Karahanna has had this kind of impact,” said Maric Boudreau, professor and head of the MIS Department. “Most importantly, she is a true role model and inspiration to all of us in the IS academic community,”

Over the past 25 years, she has been a very active member of AIS, chairing conferences, mentoring doctoral students and early-career academics and co-founding various initiatives such as the Doctoral Student Corner, the Senior Scholar Consortium and the Special Interest Group on IS Leadership.

In 2012, she received the AIS Fellow recognition, acknowledging her reputation for outstanding contributions to research, teaching and professional service. She also won the Sandra Slaughter AIS Service Award for leadership and service to the discipline in 2015.

Earlier in 2020, Karahanna delivered a keynote address on the role of information systems research for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and created a framework for researchers to tackle emerging issues. It exemplified the leadership Karahanna has demonstrated throughout her career, Boudreau said.

She has served as a senior editor of MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research and the Journal of the Association for Information Systems. She has also served on the editorial board of several other journals, including Management Science. She is frequently invited to speak and deliver keynote addresses at international conferences and research universities.

At UGA, Karahanna serves as a graduate coordinator for the MIS Department and has taught courses on theory development, several other Ph.D. courses, systems analysis and design and business intelligence. She has received several teaching awards and has been an active mentor to doctoral students, chairing 15 dissertation committees and serving as a member on another 28.

Fewer than 50 MIS scholars have received the LEO Award since it was established in 1999, including UGA’s Richard Watson in 2011.


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