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ACPHIS Medal 2021 Winner - Dr Mark Bremhorst

Dr Mark Bremhorst was awarded the 2021 ACPHIS Medal after completing his PhD thesis titled "Three Essays on Digital Representation and Decision Making: Theory-driven Study, Data-driven Study, and Integration" at the University of Queensland, Australia (UQ).

​[ORCID: 0000-0002-3961-227X]

Supervisory team:

  • Prof Andrew Burton-Jones (UQ)

  • Prof Peter Green (UQ)

Link to thesis:

  • tba

About the award winning thesis

As the disruptive force labelled “big data” exerts increasing pressure on organizations, some commentators identify new phenomena in the changing nature of data itself. In line with such arguments stressing the change and novelty associated with big data, many have called for new theories and methods to understand this new data-rich environment. For others, however, this trend urges us to keep our eyes trained on the longstanding, underlying, and fundamental problem of how to design systems to provide data that decision makers need.

The task of constructing interpretable representations out of a mass of incongruent data and embedding such representations in business technologies presents challenges to scholars and practitioners alike. In three essays, I argue for a reprise of the fundamental issue of producing digital representations through information systems. Key themes in my research are how to improve the interpretability of representations, and how to increase the fit between representations and a decision maker’s information needs. The overriding goal of this thesis is to explain how system designers identify such information and produce digital representations that decision makers find useful. Specifically, I ask:

  • RQ1: How do information system designers improve the efficacy of IS reporting? 

  • RQ2: How does a system user integrate information system outputs into decision making?

Motivated by these fundamental questions, I explore how information systems (ISs) can support decision makers. I do so by proposing and assessing a theoretical model and by inducing a second model from my case study data. The two theoretical models I offer contribute to IS theory by explaining how users acquire information and by revealing the mechanism underlying system designers’ efforts to overcome social and technological constraints when designing decision-support systems. 

My work extends the representational perspective on information systems and helps identify commonality among decision-support literatures. The key contribution I seek to make is to help systems designers understand how information systems can support data-driven decision making in organisations. Overall, I hope my thesis demonstrates how an improved knowledge of IS theory can guide the efforts of practitioners as they engage in the design of information systems.


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