Master and Diploma Seminar Spring 2013

In cooperation with the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)

Information Technology and its Impact on Team, Process, Corporate, and Economic Level


Topic Information Technology and its Impact on the Economy
Lecturer Prof. Dr. Armin Heinzl, Prof. Dr. Irene Bertschek, and research assistants
Contact hours per week 2 SWS, conducted as a block seminar
Early-Bird Registration until December 19, 2012 (with two topic preferences)
Late Registration until February 17, 2013
Topic Assignment December 21, 2012
Introduction Session February 22, 2013
Paper Submission May 6, 2013
Seminar Session tba
Date and Location tba
Contact Dipl.-Kfm. Marko Nöhren
Registration Please register here and name your two preferred topics. After having registered, please send copies of your bachelor diploma/Vordiplom and your current transcript of records to


In current economic conditions scarce resources, short product life cycles and intense competitive environments put pressure on firms’ budgets. Faced with the challenge of minimizing costs whilst ensuring high quality outputs, companies have to focus on improving productivity of their business processes. Increasing importance has been attributed to IT services enhancing efficiency and the development of new approaches to assess IT’s impact on organizational performance. As this trend is likely to continue over the next years, practitioners will be increasingly forced to justify investments in IT. Several streams of research are concerned with assessing the productivity of IT services. Various previous studies in this area indicate, that IT impacts organizational performance via business processes while several technological and human resources, complementary organizational resources and factors from the external environment affect the value contribution of IT. Thus we conclude that a conceptual and methodological contribution to research should integrate economical, organizational and process perspectives in a single holistic research endeavor. Against this background, we offer the spring 2013 seminar in cooperation with the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim. With the findings of the two tracks, we attempt to increase the understanding of how IT impacts business process productivity, organizational performance.

The topics of the seminar are subdivided into the two tracks listed below. The research questions of the seminar theses will be developed together with the supervisors and may or may not address one of the questions mentioned below.

If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.


Topic Contents Advisor
Track 1: Team Level Performance
Topic 1-1: Measuring the service performance of software development teams Software development teams do mostly not only develop software, but provide services to their stakeholders. For instance, they explain customers or sales personnel how to use the software (sales consulting), help customers implement the software (implementation consulting), or help other development teams modify or use their software (technical consulting). If the provision of such services is a significant part of a team’s task spectrum, evaluating the service performance itself might be relevant for the assessment of the team’s overall performance. In this seminar thesis, you should contrast existing ways to measure the performance of services and their applicability to exemplary services of software development teams. Christoph Schmidt
Topic 1-2: Software development team performance Software is increasingly developed within agile teams that increasingly rely on modern techniques of collaboratively developing software, such as pair programming, peer code review, test-driven development, and others. These techniques are supposed to improve team performance directly via improved code quality, but also indirectly through enhancing the team’s learning and knowledge coordination capabilities. Possible research questions within this track are: What is the effect of modern software development techniques on team learning, team self-efficacy, and knowledge coordination? How do team learning, team self-efficacy, and knowledge coordination improve team performance? Kai Spohrer
Track 2: Process Level Performance
Topic 2-1: The impact of contemporary IT services on business process performance In recent years, the IT service ecosystem has been subject to tremendous changes. We identified two primary shifts within the IT service ecosystem. First, there is an increasing move from traditional on-premises software sourcing, where the software is installed and run on computers within a client’s organization to a more evolved and sophisticated on-demand model, referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS solutions are operated and maintained by the software vendor and offered to the customers as a continuous service over the Internet. The changed deployment and payment model is expected to affect business models, processes, and organizational structures of software vendors, system integrators, and client companies.
Second, organizations are increasingly sourcing business processes through external service providers. This practice, known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is a well known phenomenon for about 15 years. However, within recent years, the BPO market matured and companies from across the world increasingly outsource complex and core business processes to third parties.
Seminar theses within this topic may address vendors as well as clients: What is the impact of SaaS/BPO on existing business processes of clients, vendors, and system integrators? What is the role of continuous coordination, communication, and knowledge transfer between client and service provider on SaaS/BPO performance? What is the role of system integrators in on-demand software provisioning?
Marko Nöhren
Topic 2-2: Productivity in large-scale Software Development Systems Due to an ever growing demand for faster cycle times in software development, new paradigms such as agile and lean development have become prominent in industry. In the past, large-scale projects have focused on long and rigorous planning activities to reduce risk and manage dependencies. With lean and agile methods the focus has shifted to shorter iterative planning and development cycles with continuous delivery of value to the customer. In this context, the flow of development from customer requirements to actual implemented software features is the essential topic in order to improve the efficiency and thus the productivity of the software development system.
Seminar theses within this topic may address one or several of the following questions: How can different dependency types be managed in large-scale lean/agile projects? What coordination mechanisms exist in large-scale lean/agile development systems? What bottlenecks exist in large-scale software development projects and how do they affect the development flow?
Alexander Scheerer
Track 3: Corporate Level Performance
Topic 3-1: Beyond the IT Productivity Paradox - From Business Process Performance to Corporate Value You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics. Ever since this famous quote by Robert Solow in 1987, increasing importance has been attributed to how IT investments contribute to the value of business processes, organizations, and national economies. Researchers have adopted multiple approaches and conceptual models to deepen our understanding of the so called "IT productivity paradox”. Unfortunately, these approaches are divergent and we still lack a deeper theory-guided understanding of the value of IT.
Seminar theses within this track may address the following research questions: How can we measure the impact of IT investments at business process level on national economies? What can be learned from existing success models and how to synthesize what is known about IT value? How do environmental factors such as culture and country-specific regulations shape the value of IT?
Irene Bertschek, Marko Nöhren
Track 4: Economic Level Performance
Topic 4-1: Knowledge Spillovers and Economic Success Economical success is often suspected to be dependent on knowledge spilling among the different economic actors. Such knowledge spillovers can be either direct between two contributors working in the same e.g. R&D project. However, knowledge can also circulate indirectly, e. g., from the first part via the second one to a third one, which is only acquainted to the second part through another project, but not to the first. While spillover mechanism is pretty clear for innovation, or R&D, it is much less clear for ICT. Seminar theses within this track may address the following research questions: Is there any evidence for the impact of knowledge spillovers on success like e.g. productivity, innovation or other performance measures in different economic contexts? How could these spillovers be mediated by ICT? Do firms choose strategic partners having potential spillovers already in mind? Irene Bertschek, Benjamin Engelstätter
Topic 4-2: Enterprise Software and Productivity Enterprise systems, company-wide suites of business software devoted to particular process integration across the value chain, encompass a wide range of software products supporting day-to-day business operations and decision-making. They serve many industries in numerous areas and are designed to automate operations from supply management; inventory control, manufacturing scheduling or sales force automation and almost any other data-oriented management process. Overall, enterprise systems are expected to positively impact productivity and firm performance in several areas.
Seminar theses within this track may address the following research questions: How do enterprise systems impact firm performance? What kinds of different performance measures are affected by the enterprise systems? In addition to potential performance increases why do firms adopt enterprise systems?
Irene Bertschek, Benjamin Engelstätter

Important dates

  • <b>Registration:</b> open until December 19 (with two topic preferences), late registration until February 17
  • <b>Introduction Session:</b> February 22, 2013, 3-4pm, L15, 1-6, A001
  • <b>Paper submission:</b> May 6, 2013
  • <b>Seminar session:</b> tba


  • The literature review should be done by students independently.
  • The review shall include electronic literature sources offered by the University of Mannheim (Rechercheportal)  as well as sources available on the internet.
  • Overviews of literature sources are available at the library and here.


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