Volume 6, Number 2, Spring 2006

Systems Thinking: A Paradigm for Professional Development



Gilbert Laware

Beverly Davis

Purdue University

Purdue University

1733 Northside Blvd.

1733 Northside Blvd.

South Bend, IN 46615-1409

South Bend, IN 46615-1409

Email: lawareg@purdue.edu

Email: bevjd@purdue.edu

Karl Peruisch, Ph.D.

Purdue University

1733 Northside Blvd.

South Bend, IN 46615-1409

Email: kaperusich@pusb.iusb.edu




Systems Theory is used as a tool for better understanding economic and organizational change and process. The development of systems thinking models change paradigms and mental models recognizing the inter-connectedness and systems processes. Students, too, must also recognize that they will participate in a global community and that their perspective must provide them with the mental models to do so. Students must develop a systems thinking approach to understanding their careers to ensure that they will be able to recognize and prepare for known and unforeseen contingencies that they will inevitably encounter. This paper examines how an individual’s professional development affects and is affected by his/her environment. Too often a professional career is viewed looking from the inside out. Individuals fail to take a more global perspective and critically examine their professional development in the context of their environment. The vocabulary and concepts of systems theory can provide this framework.




Educators and students alike have much in common with businesses today as they struggle to anticipate market trends and technological vulnerabilities. Educators spend years preparing students for a future of technology yet to be conceived, not to mention developed. Many students want to focus on learning specific technologies (like the latest software, communications or hardware) so they can add it to their list of accomplishments on their resume. As educators, we are aware that the technologies they have assimilated may be antiquated by the time they graduate. The continuously changing and complex workplace makes it difficult to anticipate the future and even more difficult for students and educators to prepare for it. The best practices of successful businesses will include a systems thinking model of operation. Development of systems thinking models changes paradigms and mental models recognizing market and global inter-connectedness and systems processes. It would seem reasonable, therefore, to examine business processes and apply appropriate best practices to student professional development. As student advisors, we many times find students focusing on immediate accomplishments when in fact it is the systems thinking mental models that will best prepare students for the unknown future world of work. Learning how to learn, planning for the unthinkable or the unimaginable, and developing a holistic perspective will prepare today’s students for a work environment that will reward flexible problem-solvers who can think “out of the box” and stay on the cutting edge of technology.


Businesses today operate with a fear of vulnerability and risk. At no time in history has this been truer than since 9/11. In the book, World of Risk, author Mark Daniell warned that businesses operate in a volatile era (p. 17):


“One new source of risk is not found in any individual complex global system or inadequate responsive mechanism. It may well lie in the uncharted compounding of risk created when more than  one system intersects and interacts-creating turbulence, compounding risk, and increasing the impact of any failure to respond  effectively. As global systems evolve, there are more and more variables intersecting from newer and less understood complex systems. The inevitable result is an increase in unexpected catastrophes and apparent discontinuities. An example of this compounding risk is the interconnection of the computer web with the global capital system. A catastrophe in one system can spill over directly and immediately into another.”


Business leaders are tasked with managing those vulnerabilities and limiting the risks associated with the global market. Today’s business leaders are fully aware that the global system in which they operate has expanded. [3] While this offers the gift of participation in the global market, it also makes investment in contingency planning more of a necessity. In the past, contingency plans were a questionable and marginally justifiable expense to most businesses. This attitude was reinforced by the frustrating experience many had in investing in protection against the threat of Y2K. [8] People still disagree about the reality and/or severity of that threat.


Clearly, one consequence of the 9/11 disaster would be that businesses become more focused on viewing their enterprise as a “system”. This viewpoint enables them to see their business as part of a greater whole in the “real world”, and to understand how this lack of isolation is a source of both opportunity and vulnerability. It is the interface, i.e. the boundary, between their organization and its environment that presents the greatest challenge to understanding how an external event will constrain or change the internal workings of the corporation and vice versa. The language and perspective of systems modeling provides a framework for developing this understanding.


Key to this systems thinking is the idea that business leaders are developing mental models of how they view their operations using a systems perspective. The mental model they use is important because it conditions their viewpoint and perspective. This is turn helps them in how they frame problems and, as important, solutions to operating their business. Alternate viewpoints provide alternate perspectives. In the final analysis, though, the global, i.e. systems perspective has been the most productive in addressing opportunities presented by operating in the global community in which they are embedded.


Herbert Simon, among others, has argued that humans suffer from bounded rationality. They do not have the intellectual capacity to assimilate and analyze all available information before making a decision. Thus, their decisions, seemingly rational and optimal to themselves, can be interpreted as ineffective or inefficient by others that are using a different data set. Bounded rationality leads decision makers to develop filters to reduce data to a level they can manage. These data filters, in turn, are conditioned by the mental models they use to construct their reality. (cited in [18], p. 598)


The mental model of the problem space that a decision maker uses is key to the type of response they will have to a problem. The mental model provides the viewpoint from which they filter the available data. In essence it determines what data they perceive to be relevant and will ultimately use in making their decision. The authors believe that it is key for graduates to develop their mental models from a systems perspective .Students, too, must also recognize that they will participate in a global community and that their perspective must provide them with the mental models to do so. Students must develop a systems thinking approach to ensure that they will be able to recognize and prepare for known and unforeseen contingencies that they will inevitably encounter.


Systems Modeling


Before continuing, the purpose of systems modeling in the context here must be discussed. In general, any model can have two broad purposes. In the first, a prescriptive model is used to determine how to affect change in the current environment or system. These types of models tend to use quantitative techniques to assess how a set of outputs is determined by a given set of inputs. The goal for such modeling is to use it as a template for controlling the environment by prescribing ways that the inputs can be changed to achieve desired outputs.


In a second broad category are descriptive models. These types of models are used to understand the interactions of different parts of an environment. Although they can be highly analytic, for example, econometric models of the economy, they can also be qualitative in nature. Since they are not intended as a prime means for changing or controlling the systems that make up the environment under investigation, they can utilize little if any mathematics and still be highly effective since their purpose is to describe and not prescribe. [4]


It is in the second tradition that systems modeling will be developed here. [9] Our goal is to understand how an individual’s professional development affects and is affected by his/her environment. The intention is not to develop an algorithm or system of differential equations that can be manipulated to find an optimal solution for a career decision. Instead systems theory will be used as a descriptive means to gain insight into how to view a professional career and professional development. It is the viewpoint that systems thinking provides that is important, not its predictive capabilities.




Before systems thinking and systems practice as they pertain to professional development can be fully explored, some general definition or description of a system must be considered. The key to any effective implementation of the scientific method is the isolation of the parts from their environment. A central tenet of any scientific method or theory is that it is valid under changes only in those variables directly applicable to the theory. This provides a framework to test and study the theory. For example, in thermodynamics, very often, a system under study is assumed to be embedded in an infinite reservoir of heat. In this way the variables under study are isolated and the effects of the system minimized. In fact, great effort is made in most scientific experiments to isolate or hold constant the environment in which it is taking placing to assure that effects are the result of the causes modeled in the theory and not extraneous interactions of the experiment with its environment. [4] However, with systems thinking an observer does not try to isolate individual parts from the rest of the whole. Instead the observer is trying to understand the complexity of how the individual parts interact to give the system its unique characteristics. It is this interaction of subsystems with other subsystems that gives the system its boundary and character. Systems models necessarily must be analyzed in the “real” world because it is the interactions of the system with the real world that give it its unique characteristics. [1]


Systems thinking and systems practice developed as a distinct way to analyze a problem because of inherent limitations with other techniques, scientific, political, moral, religious, aesthetic, to name several, when examining large scale, multi-agent, multi-part structures. [6] Systems modeling embedded in the real world involves the interplay of politics, interpersonal conflict, ambiguity, time pressures and differing objectives. [19] As such, the process requires an iterative series of activities to solve the problem, gain insight by formulating hypotheses, testing, and revising the courses of action that can be taken.


Of the many key concepts that are part of modern system analysis, the three most useful for our perspective are feedback, redundancy and iteration or evolution.  [10][11] Feedback refers to the process commonly encountered in complex systems where a change in an output is “fed back” and actually becomes an input. Thus, changes in the outputs caused by the system can effect the response of the system itself. With positive feedback some affect gets reinforced, while negative feedback tends to cancel some effect and stabilize the system. In most systems, the most complex behaviors usually arise from the feedback between components of the system, not the complexity of the components themselves. [18]


Before examining this and the other two concepts in the context of a professional’s development, useful insight can be gained by applying the principles to another organic entity, the organization. Organizations display feedback in a variety of ways. As a concrete example consider the double-loop learning process many exhibit described by Argyris. [2] The process is essentially a series of information feedback loops about the real world that not only alters organizational decisions but also alters mental models about how the organization interfaces with its external environment. Changes in mental models shaped by alternate perceptions of the marriage of the organization with its external world change the way people within it view its internal structure. This creates a view that the internal structure of the system needs to change which, in turn, creates different decision rules, strategies, and decisions. Ultimately, these actions together change the overall behavior of the organization.


Systems tend to be fragile structures easily damaged through interactions with the environment in which they are embedded. One way to reduce the potential loss of viability of the system through this interaction is to build redundancy within it, the second key attribute of systems theory applicable here. Key subsystems, data structures or control systems are replicated and multiple decision pathways provided so that the loss of any particular one does not result in a catastrophic failure of the entire system. There will always be other parts of the system that can assume its function preserving its integrity.


In the organic side of a business organization redundancy is incorporated in variety of ways, primarily to insure continuity in decisions and decision-making capability should individuals separate from it. Most organizations provide multiple lines of authority so that, should one line be temporarily or permanently disrupted, someone else can step in and authorize needed actions, thus, insuring that that the business of the organization continues. For example, succession planning in organizations may utilize executive review systems to identify potential quality back-up candidates for replacing current executives or upper-level management. [15]


Multiple lines of authority, by itself, will not guarantee continuity of decision making. Ideally, a new decision maker must also have the knowledge and data necessary to make an informed analysis of the situation. Redundancy in the decision making apparatus of an organization implies information sharing and decision mentoring. Individuals who might have to make a decision participate in the process with the current decision maker and can access the same information, so that they develop a similar mental model of the situation. Without this the junior decision makers will be thrust into a situation where they are inadequately prepared to evaluate the available data and make an informed decision, possibly with disastrous results for the organization. [16]


Most systems, especially those that involve a human element, change through iteration or evolution rather revolution, the final key characteristic of systems used here. Organizations are a typical example. Unless a corporation is dissolved through bankruptcy or acquisition, it tends to be slow in changing its mode of operation. Even sudden market changes generally are not met with an instantaneous response. Instead, the need for change is acknowledged and transformations made incrementally. Most organizations find that many factors contribute to this change such as: clarity of direction, knowledge of participants, ability to develop focus, and understanding of the system to name a few. All impact the success or a failure of change. [14, pp.212-213] Evolutionary change is what author Clayton Christensen in the article, The Innovator’s Dilemma, calls sustaining innovation [5, pp. 71-72]. This author suggested that successful companies, no matter what the source of their capabilities, are pretty good at responding to evolutionary changes. This article distinguished, however, between this evolutionary and incremental change, and disruptive innovation. Disruptive innovation is found when companies run into trouble in handling or initiating revolutionary changes in their markets. This may occur when an entirely new market is introduced. Disruptive innovation may not support current corporate values or may initially show lower profit margins making it less attractive. Therefore, Dr. Christensen suggests corporations embrace disruptive innovation and create capabilities to cope with these evolutionary changes. In a sense, one needs to view multiple aspects of change in the context of the system since it permeates every aspect of ones personal and professional life.




Personal careers can be viewed as a system and, as such, systems theory and systems thinking can be applied to them to gain insight into how they interact with the environment in which they exist. Too often a professional career is viewed looking from the inside out. Individuals fail to take a more global perspective and critically examine their professional development in the context of their environment. The vocabulary and concepts of systems theory can provide this framework.


Like an organization or business, individuals function in the real world. The actions they can take are constrained by the environment in which they function and, equally as important, they help to shape, modify and constrain that external world. In essence they are part of a system, so the language and perspective of systems modeling also be used to provide a framework for developing an understanding of how they fit into their environment. This framework behind systems thinking is the foundation for a new paradigm for student professional development.


As was stated previously, systems theory provides a myriad of concepts and mechanisms for evaluating a “system”. Of these, three are key tools for evaluating a professional career as a system: feedback, redundancy, and evolution. These three concepts can provide a unique framework for evaluating professional development in the environment in which it is embedded.


As referenced above, feedback refers to the process where changes in outputs affect the operation of the system. The actual operation of the system is a function not only of the inputs but also the current values of the outputs. Two types of feedback can exist. With positive feedback certain effects can be amplified and reinforced, giving them dominance over the operation of the system. Such a situation is not always desirable because instabilities in the system may result. Negative feedback produces signals that mitigate or minimize particular effects. Such feedback is often purposely designed into a system because it tends to wash out undesirable effects and stabilize it.


The key to understanding feedback is the recognition that the system both affects the external world in which it is embedded and is affected by this external world. From a system viewpoint, one must recognize that personal and professional actions are not taken in a vacuum. The actions one can take are conditioned and bounded by the environment in which the professional is operating. Likewise, taking an action can and probably will change that external environment. This in turn changes the range and boundaries of decisions that can be taken, and so on. Through feedback, the professional (as system) and the system in which they are operating are tightly coupled. In more colloquial terms, actions have consequences.


Recognition of feedback should be an important consideration in any professional development or professional decision. Individuals must recognize that they are part of a larger environment, just as a system is part of a larger system. No action is done in isolation. When an individual makes a decision or takes an action, this decision or action fundamentally changes his or her external world. The change will reflect back to them in new boundaries and constraints affecting their next decision or action-making abilities.


A second major attribute of systems in this theory is redundancy. In any system, critical components or controls are replicated several times within the system and multiple pathways provided to propagate decisions, data, information, etc. so that failure of one key component does not result in failure of the system as a whole. “Redundancy” is built into a system so that it will recover from the inevitable critical failure somewhere within it.


Redundancy must also be built into professional careers. An individual must recognize that his/her skills, capabilities and professional attributes are interdependent. Changes in one affect the others. It is important that they not lose a capability through obsolescence. A loss of one capability will affect all other capabilities. If it is a critical capability, they may, like a system, suffer a critical “failure”. “Redundancy” can be achieved through continuous improvement and continuing education that keep a professional’s skill set technologically current.


As an example, in the field of information systems, learning to program largely centered on the use of structured programming techniques in the 1970-80’s. When graphical user interface (GUI) software development environments and object-oriented programming techniques were developed in the late 1980-90’s, a large portion of the programming community had to re-learn these new technologies. Many programmers who did not became obsolete. They lost their ability to compete in this new marketplace.


Finally, unless a system faces a catastrophic failure it will generally change incrementally, i.e. by evolution rather than revolution. This process is ongoing and continuous. As a system interacts with its environment, especially one that has a human element, it will undergo incremental changes to accommodate the constraints imposed by the external world to accomplish its tasks and achieve its goals. These changes are inevitable.


Professional careers follow a similar tract that is ongoing and continuous. Today no person can assume her or his desired career path to be static for any great length of time. It is easy to see how changes in technology require changes in one’s professional capabilities but there are also more subtle ways in which a person’s career evolves. A person’s skill sets changes as the person acquires more experience in their chosen profession. As their capabilities change the external environment in which they are embedded may place new and greater responsibilities or demands on them.


The evolutionary nature of a career in a profession should be recognized and accepted. It is an inevitable result of the “system” nature of a profession. People can be proactive in dealing with these changes through continuous improvement. They acquire new knowledge and capabilities through education and on-the-job training. But an individual should not ignore the skills and capabilities they acquire through work experiences and interaction with their “external world.” For example, two decades ago spreadsheet technology was a tool used by a few innovative professionals. Today, Spreadsheet technology is commonly used to maintain information. With the inclusion of spreadsheet technology, fundamental training and on-the-job practices incorporated spreadsheet practices as a common procedure being performed by a profession, i.e., finance or marketing. The same is true with the use of Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) in the engineering professions. The use of these technologies are currently assumed or explicitly stated as part of job position descriptions. They have altered the requirements of the skills needed to fill the job and changed the systems nature of the profession.


The incremental nature of change in the professional development system also constrains the ability of an individual to change. This fact should be accepted and incorporated into an individual’s approach to the management of their careers. An individual’s skill set is a product of not only their formal training, college education, for example, but it is also enhanced by the skills and knowledge gained from on-the-job experiences. These provide a base for further development. So, rather than attempting abrupt career changes, an individual should recognize the base they already have and attempt incremental changes.




Looking at a career from a professional development perspective, a person has to assume that there will be significant changes, driven by a variety of factors including new technologies, economic conditions and changes in societal relations. As change occurs, the underlying system provides different information feedback about the real world. This alters the individual’s experience in decision-making but also requires a systemic change of the mental model due to the structural change introduced with this new system. New learning is required to handle the differing levels of data, process and information integration that the system introduces. This experience drives a radically new perspective on the viability of professional skills relative to the organization and to the economy. [13] It is the aforementioned foundational and fundamental understanding of systems thinking that is utilized as a paradigm for student professional development.


As an example, consider how a seemingly simple improvement in technological capability can have far reaching consequences for an individual’s professional development. A significant group of professionals may use spreadsheets currently to maintain information relevant to their individual job responsibilities; the trend is to use collaborative technologies, databases and the Internet to receive this information. The context of the business system that supports the overall mission, goals, and many objectives is changing by adopting new technologies to address world markets and changing competitive challenges. As an observer of this system, the individual in terms of career development has to understand that the skills they develop must be seen in the context of a larger system, the economy. But, as a part of the economic system, they have to create, update, and delete skills that will not support their particular profession or will not provide value in the economic system. [17]


Using a systems modeling perspective, principles for the successful use of system dynamics can also apply to professional career development and include: [18, pp. 80-81]


1.                  A mental model, which focuses on results, should be developed to solve a particular (career path) problem and to improve the individual’s performance.

2.                  The modeling should help focus on the structure of the career choice and improvement system.

3.                  The development of the model forces an examination of possible options and alternatives in terms of what will be achieved and why.

4.                  Focus on costs and benefits measurements from the start.

5.                  The process of modeling works best as an iterative process activity where new discoveries open up options and opportunities.

6.                  The results of an initial career path change and assessment are the starting point of the next iteration of a growth model.


As an illustration, an engineering student initially chooses to enter a particular engineering discipline. For example, the student has a choice of many disciplines: Computer Information System (CIS), Electrical Engineering (EE), Mechanical Engineering (ME), or Human Resources Management (HRM). The following table reflects some of the possible careers choices that a graduate the program would aspire as a result of receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in their chosen disciplines.


Typical Career Opportunities





Business/Systems Analyst

Applications Engineer

Design Technician

Financial Advisor

Database Analyst

Control Engineer

Manufacturing Technician

Human Resources Staff

Information Technology Analyst

Electrical Engineer

Product Design Technician

Operations Manager

Network Engineer

Process Control Engineer

Tooling Technician

Production Manager

Software Engineer

Technical Sales

Quality Technician

Sales Manager

Web Developer

Test Engineer


Team Leader


As the student nears graduation, there are many other considerations that may factor into or influence the career opportunities in a given field. Most notable is an external factor such as the economy. This translates into the hiring rates by companies, in what industries, seeking what types of skills required, and impacting the given number of job opportunities for college graduates within chosen disciplines.


Figure 1 – Model Framework


Figure 1 reflects the different factors that impact the demand level for the skills from a chosen discipline. The skills that are readily available in the market (inventory), the intensity of competition within the market for those skills, and the specific demand translates to the required demand for college graduates. Given at various points of time, the rate of the interaction between these can vary affecting the possible number of job opportunities available to be filled.


In this scenario, the college graduate may have to seek opportunities that are aligned to their chosen career path. They may be hired into a particular industry in which they will have to learn another discipline. For example, a CIS major may obtain a job in the manufacturing industry and have to learn the disciplines of mechanical engineering since the individual would support a number of operational business applications (like quality control, shop floor systems, production control, etc.). Or in another situation, the student may see opportunities to support the human resource or staffing organization with their skills. In today’s marketplace and the anticipated trend for health care needs, a student may focus on health care software applications to get an opportunity to gain employment in that area.


Using the systems modeling framework previously described with its associated principles, then the burden is on the individual to assess their own professional development. There are two important observations. Only the professional is accountable for impacting the outcome of his/her professional development. In addition, the professional must assess relative measurements in terms of risks and rewards within a changing environment. Within this framework, systems’ thinking is a paradigm for professional development.




If one should use systems thinking as a preferred paradigm for understanding professional development, one must ask whether the current pedagogical approach used in higher education supports such a philosophy. The authors would argue no. In fact, we would argue the customary approach used in most schools for the development of courses and their synthesis into curricula actually reinforces a narrow world-view.


Current educational practices tend to require the regurgitation of facts and figures relevant to a specific discipline. This tends to create silos around topics and disciplines. The answer generally is more paramount than the process used to get the answer. Devices and techniques are taught rather than systems, even within a discipline. In electrical engineering, many times, much of a course is developed around individual devices and understanding their operation, for example, transistors, instead of around systems (peruse most textbooks for examples).  This creates a double problem. Not only are their silos or walls enclosing individual disciplines, these same barriers also incase knowledge within a discipline.


Systems thinking emphasize the relationships that exist between individual parts that compose a system rather than the specific input/output characteristics that the part may have. This emphasis cuts across disciplines and cuts across knowledge within a discipline. To take a systems perspective a practitioner must have the ability to understand the complex interactions between the mechanical, electrical, chemical, physical, organizational, social and a myriad of other relevant areas that interact in the operation of the system being examined. Although it is probably beyond the capability of a single individual to have such extensive knowledge in so many areas, practitioners must at least have a basic understanding that it is these interactions that can create unique problems and have the foresight to watch out for them.


Key to a systems approach to solving a problem is understanding that the interactions between individual components of a system are as important, if not more important, then the workings of the individual devices, and that the system and solution interact. The mere application of a solution may in fact change the characteristics of the system, resulting in feedback. The current pedagogy emphasizing answers fails to adequately provide graduates with the tools needed to appreciate the significance of interaction and feedback in the solution they arrive at. [12]


Education not only develops a knowledge base within an individual of facts and figures, it creates mental models the individual will use in framing a problem. If education emphasizes narrow thinking, i.e. facts and figures, then the student will graduate with a vision of problem solving that has blinders. They have been taught to look for the specific in a problem (a parameter, a device characteristic, or a number) so they will frame it accordingly. In the process, though, they fail to appreciate how the system in which they are embedding their device enhances, hinders or constrains its operation. To the extent that the current pedagogy used at the college level emphasizes devices over systems, we are creating a culture and problem solving approach that emphasizes devices over systems. We are literally teaching students to “see” the trees rather than the forest.


Such pedagogy carries forward into the professional development of the individuals. Because graduates have been taught to frame problems with a limited viewpoint, career decisions tend to be analyzed in a similar manner. Their limited view precludes them from recognizing the importance of feedback and interaction in the professional decisions they make. In essence they fail to recognize that they are part of a “system”. To develop a systems thinking approach to professional development they must frame problems using system thinking. And to frame problems using system thinking their education must give them the analytic tools and philosophical underpinnings necessary to form the correct mental models.


So how can education be modified to instill in students a broader perspective in their approach to framing and solving problems? At its most basic level education needs to be multidisciplinary and integrated. And this approach should be accomplished not by just adding additional classes in additional fields of study. To fully appreciate the importance of understanding “system” concepts one must use an integrated approach. Systems should be studied using the viewpoints of many different disciplines to reinforce the notion that the interactions are as important as the characteristics of the viewpoints afforded by the individual disciplines. Within a discipline teach a system rather than individual devices. For example, in electrical engineering teach power supplies (as a system) rather than rectifiers and pass transistors. Further teach power supplies by examining the electrical, mechanical and thermal properties that it must or will have and show how these different areas interact to define the system know as a power supply. By changing from vertically integrating concepts (electrical or mechanical) to horizontally integrating them around systems (a power supply, an engine) students will develop the global thinking approach necessary for framing problems for system thinking. This way of thinking will then carry forward into their professional development.




Systems’ thinking establishes a foundation for evaluating possible options, alternatives, and measures that provide an understanding of outcomes. Like all models, there are different hypotheses and scenarios that can be examined in the process. The key feature in the application of this paradigm is that the professional is both an observer and developer. In this sense, he/she will gain a better appreciation of possible outcomes or results. This allows participants to change their course of actions to adapt to the ever- changing systems in which they are participating.


The mental model of systems thinking is a framework that can be utilized by students and professionals in a professional development. What is learned in the classroom may be outdated by graduation. The world may look entirely different by the time a student completes their degree. However, learning how to learn, planning for the unthinkable or the unimaginable, and developing a systems thinking perspective will prepare today’s students and professionals to succeed in the future world of work.


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Author Information


Gil Laware is an Assistant Professor of Computer Technology in the College of Technology at Purdue University in South Bend, IN. His research interests are in the area of metadata management, knowledge management, enterprise architecture and data management. He serves as Data Management Association’s (DAMA) Foundation’s Vice President of Research, is a member of IEEE, the Project Management Institute, and the American Computing Machinery - Special Interest Group for Information Technology Education (sigITe).


Beverly Davis is an Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership in the College of Technology at Purdue University in South Bend, IN. She is the current Division Chair of the Manufacturing Division of the ASEE and track chair for the annual Emerging Issues in Business and Technology Conference. She has presented papers nationwide and internationally. She belongs to the ASEE, ASQ, the International Leadership Association, the National Literacy Institute, The American Psychological Society, and the Association of Leadership Educators.


Karl Perusich is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at the College of Technology at Purdue University in South Bend, IN. He has a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie-Mellon University. His research interests are in interface between technology and society. He is currently the vice president of the Society for the Social Implications of Technology of the IEEE.