Interview with Prof. M. Lynne Markus

Prof. M. Lynne Markus is the John W. Poduska, Sr. Professor of Information and Process Management at Bentley College. Professor Markus’s three primary research areas are enterprise and inter-enterprise systems, IT and organization change, and knowledge management. Dr. Markus has received research grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, The Advanced Practices Council of SIM International, the Financial Executives Research Foundation, the Office of Technology Assessment (US Congress), and Baan Institute. She is the author of three books and numerous articles in journals such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Organization Science, Communications of the ACM, Sloan Management Review and Management Science. She has served as AIS VP for Education, SIM VP for Academic Community Affairs, and on the editorial boards of several leading journals in the information systems field. She was named Fellow of the Association for Information Systems in 2004.

1. What is the secret of your productivity?

I don’t feel very productive at the moment, because I’m really bogged down in editorial work and service. So, that’s one lesson, I think. We all go through “dry” periods, and we have to forgive ourselves for that.

What works best for me is to work on my research early in the morning, before email and other distractions. I try to schedule meetings and teaching in the afternoons. Whatever is a good time of day or week for you, the important thing is to set it aside for your research as religiously as possible. If you wait to do your research until everything else is done, you’ll never do your research.

Colleagues who follow my recommendation of “two hours a day, first thing in the morning” find it generally works for them. I only wish I took my own medicine more often!

2. How do you manage your writing time?

I try to work on only one thing at a time, but the pressures of deadlines often prevent that. I try to set goals for a work period and reward myself if I accomplish the goal. For example, I may say to myself: “I’ll work for three hours today or for 2 pages or until I write the introduction”. If I finish the 2 pages or the introduction, I may let myself quit for the day as a reward, rather than start some other task. If, however, I simply can’t get started on the assigned task that day, I may switch to some other research task I prefer doing, just to make sure that something will get done.

3. Any advices for doctoral students for doing research?

The most important thing is to choose projects or topics you really care about. It’s very hard to sustain motivation for as long as it takes to do high quality research (often a matter of years), if you are not really, really interested. My research projects often take at least three years from start to paper acceptance. But I plan my projects as part of larger programs that occupy me for around 10 years. I like diversity and change, so the topics of my programs have to be very important to me to keep me going for such long periods of time.

We thank Prof. M. Lynne Markus for sharing her thoughts with us.

Did you find this interview interesting? Do you have any questions you always wanted to ask some OCIS faculty members or practitioners? This is your chance, just let us know your comments/questions and your faculty of choice and we will get the answers for you.

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