Dr. Khaled Hassanein took time out during his visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management to tell us about his academic life, his research and its contribution to society.
Dr. Khaled Hassanein is Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada). He has served as the Director of the McMaster Digital Transformation Research Centre since 2017, and is a tenured professor of Information Systems since 2011. He holds a Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo (1994) and the University of Toronto (1986), respectively.
Among his research interests, he focuses on digital technology adoption, data analytics, human computer interaction, and decision support systems including data analytics, and Neuro-Information Systems. He has published over 115 peer-reviewed articles in renowned journals such as Management Information Systems Quarterly (MISQ), Information Systems Research (ISR) and Decision Support Systems (DSS). His publications have received over 4000 citations to date.
Dr. Khaled Hassanein has received several research grants from federal and provincial agencies in Canada as well from the private sector. His main project funders are: the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund, the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
- When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
Well, my father is a professor so it has always been there that graduate studies are important, at least a master’s. So I did my master’s degree and then I was not sure I wanted to do my PhD so I paused for a while, worked for a couple of years and decided to pursue my PhD. When you grow up in an environment where you interact with a lot of academics, you become inclined to want to follow an academic career too. You can see that it gives you the freedom to research and I like to research and learn about things. I studied electrical engineering as an undergrad and did my PhD in electrical engineering as well, and then went on to work in industry for 6 years. I learned from that experience that technology is important but needs to be complemented with a business understanding. So I pursued a part time MBA. Later I decided to go back to academia but on the business side. Therefore, my current position in Information Systems in the School of Business allows me to incorporate both sides of my technical background and my business background as I did an MBA after I did my PhD. Academia is a very interesting profession because we get to pursue what we are passionate about.
- What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?
My research in general focuses on several areas where I interact with colleagues and graduate students. One area is technology adoption, which is about how different sectors of society are motivated to adopt different information and communication technologies, what factors facilitate the adoption and what factors hinder it. So we looked at, for example, personal health records (PHR). They could help people manage their health and be an active player in their own healthcare. But people are not using them. Why is that? There could be some underlying factors in the health care system that are preventing this, so we uncover these factors. Let me give you an example. People who have diabetes when you offer them to use a personal health record system, why aren’t they using it? Maybe because they don’t understand what the technology can do for them so we ran a study to see if educational interventions could help. We were able to demonstrate that a simple video clip explaining how a PHR could help them manage their chronic condition was effective in encouraging adoption. We also look at decision support. One example is about older adults and how we can design a human centric decision support system that supports humans where it is needed and doesn’t interfere where support is not needed. That’s why I call them human centric. To do this, you need to understand the needs of the users and where they need support. When we do this, then we can design decision support for different segments of the population that will actually be adopted and used.
My most recent area of research deal with the hype around data analytics and big data. Everyone is talking about data analytics and big data and what it can do for organizations. Many organizations are acquiring these technologies but not necessarily seeing the benefits reflected in improved performance and competitiveness. Therefore, we investigated the conditions under which investing in these technologies could lead to positive outcomes, and how creating the right environment for the use of analytics within an organization can lead to those positive outcomes. Another area we explored is whether these tools can lead to discriminatory decisions. There is a perception that computers and software are not biased, which is not true. There is a simple rule in computing, which is: garbage in leads to garbage out. So when people are using these systems assuming that they are not biased, they are leaving themselves open to serious errors and these errors impact the victims that are subject to those decisions. Therefore, we developed some simple debiasing tools to help users avoid such pitfalls when using analytics to support their decision making.
- How does your work contribute to society as a whole?
We are at an age in which we are surrounded by digital technology. There is no escaping it and it affects us in positive and negative ways. It does not only affect us personally but it also affects our interaction with one another and it affects others in our vicinity when we are using technology. These technologies are deployed on a massive scale and we use them in every facet of our personal and business lives and we need to come to grips with how they impact us, and how we can best control their effects to make them positive for us.
- How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
- During your visit, what has surprised you about Colombia?
I have a very positive impression of the city. I live in Canada where everything is organized, but here I can see that there are many people and a lot of cars but things are organized, the streets are clean, there are nice neighborhoods and beautiful scenery.
- What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?
My impressions here have been very positive too. I went on a tour of the campus on my first day here, and I think the facilities are fantastic. The buildings are nice, it has some history to it, which I also like, and the historical buildings that have been repurposed to be used in different ways, like a prison is converted into classrooms and offices or a mental health facility which is also converted. I think all of this is very interesting. Having the different elevations too is a very interesting flavor of Colombia.
Host professor, Sonia Camacho tells us about why Professor Hassanein visited the School.
- How did you get to know the professor? What are the main research links?
Khaled was my PhD supervisor between 2010 and 2014 at DeGroote School of Business. We have worked together in topics that fall under the umbrella of human-computer interaction.
We published together a paper based on my PhD dissertation (PAPER: Camacho, S., Hassanein, K., & Head, M. (2018). Cyberbullying impacts on victims’ satisfaction with information and communication technologies: The role of Perceived Cyberbullying Severity. Information & Management, 55(4), 494?507).
We also collaborated on a paper around C2C sharing platforms, which is currently under review in the Journal of the Association for Information Systems. Finally, we are currently working on a research project around technostress in the workplace.
- What is the main purpose of the professor’s visit?
To explore the potential for future research and educational collaborations to strengthen the Technology?field at UASM.
- Why is it important to have this professor at the School?
Khaled has two research interests that are relevant for the School: ‘Digital Transformation’ and ‘Data Analytics’.
The topic of Digital Transformation is of interest to the Area and to the Master in Supply Chain Management.
The topic of Data Analytics is also of interest to the Area and to the School, as one of the key topics in Technology.
- What are the expectations in terms of his research contribution to the academic area?
Future research collaborations may result from this visit.