Portrait image for E. Burton Swanson

E. Burton Swanson

Research Professor and Director of the Information Systems Research Program
“Most people think of technology as physical stuff, but I like to think of it as a capability.”
(310) 825-3654


E. Burton Swanson is Research Professor and Director of the Information Systems Research Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Prior to his retirement and recall, he served as Area Chair for the Information Systems faculty. Professor Swanson began his academic career at UCLA in 1974. Earlier he worked with IBM, primarily in application system development. Since obtaining his doctorate at UC Berkeley, Professor Swanson has held visiting positions in Germany, Belgium and England.

Professor Swanson is a Fellow of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) and also a recipient of its LEO award for exceptional lifetime achievement. He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Information Systems Research, 1987-92. Earlier, in 1980, he was also a co-founder of the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS). Professor Swanson's research examines the life cycles of systems in organizations, addressing issues of innovation, implementation, utilization, and maintenance. He has authored more than one hundred scholarly articles. His most widely known work addresses organizing visions for innovating with IT, which seeks to explain patterns in the waves of innovation that characterize and sweep across the information systems field. Currently, he is working on several essays addressing the foundations and future for information systems.

Until his retirement, Professor Swanson's teaching included MBA courses in information systems applications, measurement in information systems, enterprise systems, and web business. Professor Swanson also offered an undergraduate course in electronic commerce. He chaired or co-chaired 29 doctoral dissertations at UCLA Anderson and continues to work with visiting doctoral students from around the world.

Locally, Professor Swanson is a member of the Southern California chapter of the Society of Information Management (SIM), and also works with the UCLA Information Systems Associates, a group of senior practitioners that provides support for the University.



Ph.D. Business Administration, 1971, UC Berkeley

MBA, 1964, University of Michigan

B.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering, 1962, San Jose State College


Career Publications


“How Information Systems Came to Rule the World: Reflections on the Information Systems Field,” The Information Society, 36, 2, 109-123, 2020.


“Theory Commentary,” Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 20, 9, 1366-1369, 2019.

“Technology as Routine Capability,” MIS Quarterly, 43, 3, 1007-1024.


"Theorizing Information Systems as Evolving Technology," Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 41, article 1, 2017.


"How Does New Technology Change the Nature of Work?", Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on the Changing Nature of Work, Dublin, 2016.

"Recalling IBIS: Can Argumentation be Disciplined?", Proceedings of the 22nd Americas Conference on Information Systems, San Diego, 2016.

"Technology as Routine Capability" (abridged). Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Anaheim, 2016. Best paper.

"The Rise of Information Systems at the Graduate School of Management, UCLA," Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 38, article 32, 670-677, 2016.


"Assessing IS Research Impact" (with F. Niedermann, K. Crowston, H. Koch, H. Krcmar, and P. Powell),  Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 36, article 7, 127-138, 2015.


"When Does Learning Pay Off? The Relationship of Organizational Learning and ITO Vendor Profitability" (with M. Scherman, S. Hoermann, and M. Lang), research in progress, in  Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Information Systems, Auckland, 2014.

"Diffusion and Innovation Theory: Past, Present, and Future Contributions to Academia and Practice" (with R. Baskerville, D. Bunker, J. Olaisen, J. Pries-Heje, and T. Larsen), 295-300, in  Creating Value for All Through IT, Bergvall-Kareborn, K. and Nielsen, P. A.(Eds.), Springer, 2014.

"A Simple Research Impacts Model Applied to the Information Systems Field,"  Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 35, article 16, 305-315, 2014.


"Illuminating Organizing Vision Careers Through Case Studies,"  Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems, Chicago, 2013.


"The Manager's Guide to IT Innovation Waves," Sloan Management Review, 53, 2, 75-83, 2012.

"Who Learns What from the New Human-computer Interaction: Toward a New Perspective,"  Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems, 2012. Revised version published in Database 44, 1, 9-17, 2013.


"Web 2.0 According to Wikipedia: Capturing an Organizing Vision" (with A. Gorgeon),  Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62, 10, 1916-1932, 2011.


"The Early Years of ISR: Recollections of the Editors" (with J. L. King, I. Benbasat, and C. Kemerer),  Information Systems Research, 21, 4, 665-674, 2010.

"Local Assimilation of an Enterprise System: Situated Learning by Means of Familiarity Pockets" (with Y. Yamauchi),  Information and Organization, 20, 187- 206, 2010.

"Consultancies and Capabilities in Innovating with IT,"  Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 19, 1, 17-27, 2010.


"Special Issue on Institutional Theory in Information Systems Research: Contextualizing the IT Artefact" (with W. Currie). Editorial.  Journal of Information Technology, 24, 283-285, 2009.

"Information Systems," 2635-2642, in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, M. Bates and M. Maack (Eds.),  Taylor & Francis, 2009.

"Organizing the Vision for Web 2.0: A Study of the Evolution of the Concept in Wikipedia" (with A. Gorgeon), in  Proceedings of WikiSym ?09, 2009.

"Mindfulness Routines for Innovating with Information Technology" (with N. Ramiller),  Journal of Decision Systems, 13, 1, 13-26, 2009.


"Customer Relationship Management as Advertised: Exploiting and Sustaining Technological Momentum" (with P. Wang),  Information Technology and People, 21, 4, 323-349, 2008.

"Research Directions in Information Systems: Toward an Institutional Ecology" (with N. Ramiller and P. Wang),  Journal of AIS, 9, 1, 1-22, 2008.


"Launching Professional Services Automation: Institutional Entrepreneurship for Information Technology Innovations" (with P. Wang),  Information and Organization, 17, 59-88, 2007.

"Implementation, Innovation and Related Themes Over the Years in Information Systems Research" (with H. Lucas and R. Zmud),  Journal of AIS, 8, 4, 206-210, 2007.

"Why Do Firms Have Information Systems?", in  Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems, 2007.


"Knowing Why and How to Innovate with Packaged Business Software" (with P. Wang),  Journal of Information Technology, 20, 20-31, 2005.

"How Useful are IT Research and Analysis Services?" (with D. Firth),  Business Horizons, 48, 151-159, 2005.


"Innovating Mindfully with Information Technology" (with N. Ramiller), MIS Quarterly, 28, 4, 553-583, 2004. MISQ Best Paper Award for 2004.

"How is an IT Innovation Assimilated?", 267-287, in  IT Innovation for Adaptability and Competitiveness, Fitzgerald, B. and Wynn, E. (Eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004


"Customer Relationship Management: A Diffusion Snapshot" (with D. Firth),  International Journal of Customer Relationship Management, 5, 4, 327-338, 2003.

"Organizing Visions for Information Technology and the I.S. Executive Response" (with N. Ramiller),  Journal of Management Information Systems, 20, 1, 13-50, 2003.

"Talking the IS Innovation Walk," 15-31, in  Global and Organizational Discourse about Information Technology, Wynn, E.H., Whitley, E.A., Myers, M.D. and DeGross, J.I. (Eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003

"Innovating with Packaged Business Software: Towards an Assessment," Chapter 2, 56-73 in  Second-Wave Enterprise Resource Planning Systems, Shanks, G., Seddon, P.B. and Willcocks, L.P. (Eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2003.


"Framing the System Replacement Decision" (with C. Zozaya-Gorostiza), in  Proceedings of the 7th Annual INFORMS Conference on Information Systems and Technology, 2002.


"Emergent Maintenance of ERP: New Roles and Relationships" (with S. Hirt),  Journal of Software Maintenance and Evolution, 13, 373-397, 2001.

"Telling an Innovation Story," 1-4, in  Diffusing Software Product and Process Innovations, Ardis, M. and Marcolin, B. (Eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001.


"System Life Expectancy and the Maintenance Effort: Exploring Their Equilibration" (with E. Dans),  MIS Quarterly, 24, 2, 277-297, 2000.

"Information Systems as Buzz," 923-925, in  Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems, 2000.


"Adopting SAP at Siemens Power Corporation" (with S. Hirt), Journal of Information Technology, 14, 243-251, 1999. Shorter version published in  Proceedings of the Nineteenth International Conference on Information Systems, 396-398, Helsinki, Finland, 1998.

"IS Maintainability: Should It Reduce the Maintenance Effort?", 164-173, in  Proceedings of the 1999 ACM SIGCPR Conference, 1999. Reprinted (edited) in Data Base, 30, 1, 65-76, Winter 1999.


"The Package Alternative in System Replacement: Evidence for Innovation Convergence" (with T. Joseph), Chapter 15, 370-389 in  Information Systems and Technology Innovation and Diffusion, Larsen, T.J. and McGuire, G. (Eds.), Idea Group Publishing, 1998.


"The Organizing Vision in Information Systems Innovation" (with N. Ramiller),  Organization Science, 8, 5, 458-474, 1997.

"Maintaining IS Quality," Information and Software Technology, 39, 845-850, 1997.

"IT Sensemaking and Internal Partnering: Field Notes on Barriers" (with N. Ramiller), 175-190, in  Facilitating Technology Transfer through Partnership, McMaster, T., Mumford, E., Swanson, E.B., Warboys, B. and Wastell, D. (Eds.), Chapman & Hill (U.K.), 1997.

"Toward Information Systems Health," 107-115 in  Visioiva Valmentaja Verkostoissa, Ruohonen, M. (Ed.), Turun Kauppakorkeakoulun Julkaisuja (Finland), 1997.


"Client/Server Computing at Tri Valley Growers: Some Lessons on Innovating with IT" (with N. Ramiller),  Proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Information Systems, 1223-1231, 1996.

"A ?Replacement Wave? is Coming: Application Software in Transition,"  The Software Practitioner, 6, 3-4, 7-10, 1996.

"The New Organizational Knowledge and its Systems Foundations,"  Proceedings of the 29th Annual Hawaii International Conferences on System Sciences, 3, 1996.


"Information Systems Innovation Among Organizations,"  Management Science, 40, 9, 1069-1092, 1994.

"Churchman's Theory of Design Integrity," Interfaces, 24, 4, 54-59, 1994.

"Toward an Institutional View of Information Technology Diffusion" (with N. Ramiller), 353-355,  Diffusion, Transfer and Implementation of Information Technology, Levine, L. (Ed.), North-Holland, 1994.

"Information Systems Research Thematics: Submissions to a New Journal, 1987- 1992" (with N. Ramiller),  Information Systems Research, 4, 4, 299-330, 1994. Earlier version published as "Opening a Window on the Information Systems Field: Submissions to ISR. 1987-1992" (with N. Ramiller),  Proceedings of the 27th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 4, 938-947, 1994.


"MIS Research in the 1980's: Shifting Points of Work and Reference" (with M. J. Culnan and M. T. Keller),  Proceedings of the 26th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 3, 597-606, 1993.


"Information Accessibility Reconsidered,"  Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, 2, 3, 1992, 183-196.

"Organizational Decision Support Systems" (with J. F. Nunamaker and others), Chapter 5, 137-166, in  Information Systems and Decision Processes, Konsynski, B. R., and Stohr, E. A., Eds., IEEE Computer Society Press, 1992.

"Information Centers as Organizational Innovation: Exploring the Correlates of Implementation Success" (with M. K. Fuller),  Journal of Management Information Systems, 9, 1, 47-67, 1992.

"The Diffusion of Information Centers: Patterns of Innovation Adoption by Professional Subunits" (with M. K. Fuller), 370-387 in  Proceedings of the 1992 ACM SIGCPR Conference, 1992.


"Illusive Effects on the Diffusion of an Innovation: A Comment" (with M. K. Fuller, S. Nidumolu, N. Ramiller, and S. Ward),  Management Science, 37, 11, 1500-1502, 1991.

"Organizational Decision Support in Unstable Environments" (with R. W. Zmud), 181-200,  Support Functionality in the Office Environment, Verrijn-Stuart, A., Sol, H. G., and Hammersley, P. (Eds.), North-Holland, 1991.

"The Information Loop as a General Analytic View,"  Information & Management, 20, 37-47, 1991.

"Information Systems as a Field of Study: Its Place in the Graduate Business School" (with F. F. Land and D. Targett),  Selections, Graduate Management Admission Council, 7-16, Spring 1991.

Discussion Comments on "Survey Measures and Instruments in MIS: Inventory and Appraisal," 185-186 in  The Information Systems Research Challenge: Survey Research Methods, Kraemer, K. L. (Ed.), Boston: Harvard Business School, 1991.


Research and Teaching in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Information Systems: A Critical Evaluation (with A. V. Aho, N. Bjorn-Andersen, N. Haberman, E. J. Neuhold, J. Rissanen, and J.-C. Simon), Vapk-Kustannus Publishing: Helsinki, Finland, 1990.

"Departmentalization in Software Development and Maintenance" (with C.M. Beath),  Communications of the ACM, 33, 6, 658-667, 1990.

"The Ph.D. Program in Information Systems at UCLA" (with M.L. Markus and M.S. Silver),  Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 3, 568-573, 1990.

"Distributed Decision Support Systems,"  Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 3, 129-136, 1990.


"Reconstructing the Systems Development Organization" (with C.M. Beath),  MIS Quarterly, 13, 3, 293-307, 1989.

Maintaining Information Systems in Organizations (with C.M. Beath), Wiley, 1989.

"Organizational Foundations for Maintenance" (with C.M. Beath),  Journal of Software Maintenance 1, 1, 47-58, 1989.

"Information System Implementation and Organizational Health," 179-187 in  The Well-Being of Organizations, Churchman, C.W. (Ed.), Intersystems Publications, 1989.


"Business Value as Justificatory Argument," 121-138 in  ICIT Research Study Team #2, 

Measuring Business Value, International Center for Information Technologies, 1988. Information System Implementation: Bridging the Gap Between Design and Utilization, Richard D. Irwin, 1988.

"The Use of Case Study Data in Software Management Research (with C.M. Beath),  The Journal of Systems and Software, 8, 63-71, 1988.

"Channel Disposition Assessment: Toward the Diagnosis of Information System Utility," and discussion comments, 251-259 and 276-277 in Bjorn-Andersen, N., and Davis, G.B. (Eds.),  Information System Assessment, North-Holland, 1988.


"Information Systems: Necessary Foundations," 27-38 in Achleitner, H.K. (Ed.),  The Intellectual Foundations for Information Professionals, Columbia University Press, 1987.

"Information Systems in Organization Theory: A Review," 181-204 in  Critical Issues in Information Systems Research, Boland, R.J., and Hirschheim, R. (Eds.), Wiley, 1987.

"Information Channel Disposition and Use,"  Decision Sciences, 18, 1, 131-145, 1987.


"The Demographics of Software Maintenance Management" (with C.M. Beath),  Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Information Systems, San Diego, December 15-17, 1986, 313-326.

"Research in Management Information Systems, 1980-84: Points of Work and Reference" (with M.J. Culnan),  MIS Quarterly, 10, 3, 289-302, 1986.

"A Note on Information Attributes,"  Journal of Management Information Systems, 2, 3, 87-91, 1985-86.


Research strategy statement for the Graduate School of Management, UCLA (with E.R. McLean), in McFarlan, F.W. (Ed.),  The Information Systems Research Challenge, Harvard Business School Press, 1984.

"Organizational Designs for Software Maintenance,"  Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Information Systems, Tucson, November 28- 30, 1984, 73-81.

Commentary,  Office: Technology and People, 2, 2, 95-97, 1984.


Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Information Systems, (with C. A. Ross, Co-Ed.), 297 pp., Houston, December 15-17, 1983.

"Rationality and Politics in Information System Design and Implementation: A Juxtaposition of Two Views,"  Accounting, Organizations and Society, 8, 2/3, 1983, 219-221.


Letter to the editor,  MIS Quarterly, 6, 3, September 1982, 73-74.

Editorial statement,  Office: Technology and People, 1, 1, 1982, 48-49.

"A View of Information System Evolution," and discussion contributions, in Hawgood, J. (ed.),  Evolutionary Information Systems. North-Holland, 1982, 55- 62, 247-256.

"Measuring User Attitudes in MIS Research: A Review,"  Omega, 10, 2, 1982, 157-165.


"Problem Factors and Determinants in Application Software Maintenance," (with B.P. Lientz),  Communications of the ACM, 24, 11, 1981, 763-769. Reprinted in Parikh, G. and Zvegintzov, N. (Eds.),  Tutorial on Software Maintenance, IEEE Computer Society, 1983, 31-37.

Measurement for Management Decision, (with R.O. Mason, Co-Ed.), Addison- Wesley, 1981.


"Measurement as an MIS Foundation," (with R.O. Mason),  Proceedings of the First Conference on Information Systems, Philadelphia, December 8-10, 1980, 65-68. Reprinted (edited) in Data Base, 14, 1, 1982, 27-29.

Software Maintenance Management: A Study of the Maintenance of Computer Application Software in 487 Data Processing Organizations (with B.P. Lientz), Addison-Wesley, 1980.

"Impact of Development Productivity Aids on Application System Maintenance," (with B.P. Lientz), Proceedings of a Conference on Application Development Systems, Santa Clara, March 10-11, 1980,  Data Base, 11, 3, 1980, 114-120.


"Management Information Requirements Assessment: The State of the Art," (with R.B. Cooper),  Data Base, 11, 2, 1979, 5-16.

"On the User-Requisite Variety of Computer Application Software,"  IEEE Transactions on Reliability, Special Issue on Software Reliability, R-28, 3, 1979, 221-226.

"The Evaluation of an Information System Implementation," in Szyperski, N. and E. Grochla (eds),  Design and Implementation of Computer-based Information Systems, Sijthoff & Noordhoff (the Netherlands), 1979, 301- 306.

"Measurement for Management Decision: A Perspective" (with R.O. Mason),  California Management Review, 21, 3, 1979, 70-81. Reprinted in  Problemi di Gestione (in Italian), October 1979, 3-27. Reprinted in Mason, R.O. and E.B. Swanson (eds.),  Measurement for Management Decision, Addison- Wesley, 1981, 10-25.

"Software Maintenance: A User/Management Tug-of-War," (with B.P. Lientz)  Data Management, 17, 4, 1979, 26-30.

"The 'Sub O' Approach to Information System Development,"  Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Honolulu, January 4-5, 1979, 122-131.


"The Two Faces of Organizational Information,"  Accounting, Organizations, and Society, 3, 3/4, 1978, 237-246.

"Document-Based Systems for Management Planning and Control: A Classification, Survey and Assessment" (with M.J. Culnan),  MIS Quarterly, 2, 4, 1978, 31-46.

"A Note on Interpersonal Information System Use,"  Information & Management, 1, 6, 1978, 287-294.

"Discovering Issues in Software Maintenance" (with B.P. Lientz),  Data Management, 16, 10, 1978, 15-18.

"Characteristics of Application Software Maintenance" (with B.P. Lientz and G.E. Tompkins),  Communications of the ACM, 21, 6, 1978, 466-471. Reprinted in Brill, A. E. (Ed.), Techniques of EDP Project Management: A Book of Readings, Yourdan Press, 1984.

"On the Nature of a Data Base and Its Use in Inquiry: A Tutorial,"  Information & Management, 1, 3, 1978, 95-107.


"A Methodology for IBIS Data Gathering and Development,"  Design Methods and Theories, 11, 4, 1977, 256-261.

"The Application of Function Descriptors to the Development of an Information System Typology,"  Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 28, 5, 1977, 259-267.


"The Dimensions of Maintenance,"  Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Software Engineering, San Francisco, 13-15 October, 1976, 492-497. Reprinted in Miller, E.F., Jr. (Ed.),  Tutorial: Automated Tools for Software Engineering, IEEE Computer Society, November 1979, 240-245.

"Information System Approaches: Directions for Research and Practice,"  Management Datamatics, 5, 4, 1976, 155-163.

"Computer Application System Development: Some Implications for Programming Practice,"  Data Management, 14, 5, 1976, 34-38.


"Systems Heroes,"  General Systems: Yearbook of the Society for General Systems Research, 19, 1974, 91-95.

"Management Information Systems: Appreciation and Involvement,"  Management Science, 21, 2, 1974, 178-188.

"An MIS Story,"  IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, EM-21, 3, 1974, 90-95.

"The System Realization Process,"  DMG-DRS Journal: Design Research and Methods, 8, 2, 1974, 83-89. Reprinted in  CEDR Quarterly, 7, 4, Winter 1974, 14-17.


"Useless Information Systems,"  Computer Decisions, 5 10, 1973, 60."A Parable on the Understanding of a Management Information System,"  Interfaces, 3, 2, 1973, 51-53.


"The Binary Web,"  Journal of Systems Management, 23, 7, 1972, 22-25.