Published: Feb. 14, 2024 By

Considered the most prolific researcher in Information Systems, Jason Thatcher has won awards for teaching, research and service—but he’s most proud of his work with PhD students.

Jason ThatcherHe didn’t come to Boulder for the views or an insatiable love of the outdoors. Jason Thatcher joined the Leeds School of Business this past January because he saw a chance to make a real impact.

“It was the opportunity to build something here. This is one of the few Information Systems (IS) departments that combines leadership and human behavior with information systems—the fit with my research interests was ideal,” says Professor Thatcher, the Tandean Rustandy Endowed Esteemed Chair at Leeds.

With a long history of accolades in academia, and funding from organizations like National Science Foundation and IBM, Thatcher’s reputation as a juggernaut in IS research precedes him. So much so, that he was hired into the newly established endowed chair position at Leeds created by Tandean Rustandy (Fin’87), a CU Boulder alumnus and generous donor.

A ‘modest’ start

Thatcher started his first semester with a bang, fresh off winning the Best Paper award at MIS Quarterly for his collaborative work on how bots disseminate information on social platforms.

“It’s about how bots make things go faster and how they alert people if something’s going on, and how they can change online conversations,” he explains. “I was surprised it won Best Paper. You never expect to win anything,” he says.

He gives the lion's share of credit to his co-authors, one of whom was a former PhD student he had previously mentored. “I truly learned by trailing along and watching [my co-authors] craft a masterpiece,” he said on LinkedIn.

In truth, his modesty belies his accolades.

Kai Larsen, a Leeds professor in the division of OLIA and chair of the hiring committee for Thatcher’s appointment, lists off a few of his impressive accomplishments:

  • Recognized as the most productive researcher in the IS discipline.
  • Has been published in journals such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, Journal of the AIS, the European Journal of IS and other Financial Times listed business journals.
  • Has served as president of the Association of Information Systems and on the editorial boards of top journals listed on the UT-Dallas list.
  • Has won countless awards for teaching, research and service.
  • Collaborates with teams around the world on cutting-edge research.

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“He is a mentor to thousands of PhD students...on how to be a good person, how to handle research ethics, and how to do high-quality research.”

Kai Larsen, Professor of Information Systems

Recent curiosities

His primary research areas focus on understanding how the interaction of people and technology change the world we work in. He has studied diverse topics such as individual decision-making, strategic alignment and workforce issues as they relate to how people use information technologies in organizations.

His interests take him down countless paths. “I have academic attention deficit disorder,” he says. Lately, he’s been looking at how online technology impacts people.

In a recent study, his team found that when employers check up on an applicant’s social media activity, what they find factors into their hiring decisions. He warns: “Your personal views are potentially discoverable by anyone.”

On the flip side, his team also found that those with no online activity are far from in the clear: “If you have no social presence, it evokes suspicion.”

Thatcher’s teams have also looked into cybersecurity’s effect on employees, a study scheduled to be published in the Journal of Association for Information Systems. He found that when cybersecurity workplace policies require the monitoring of employees’ emails, they feel betrayed and less secure. To protect themselves, they end up finding workarounds for communicating.

Conversely, in another paper scheduled to appear in Information Systems Research, they found that overtrust in cybersecurity can lead to sloppiness, e.g., too much trust makes us more vulnerable to potential threats.

Stewarding students

You might say Thatcher is a big supporter of PhD students—and that would be an understatement. When it comes to doctoral students, he is deeply committed to their success, as evidenced by the recognition he’s received for his service and mentorship over the years.

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“I know I’m successful when [students] no longer need me.”

Jason Thatcher, Tandean Rustandy Endowed Esteemed Chair

Larsen says, “He is a mentor to thousands of PhD students and young faculty who follow his copious daily LinkedIn posts on how to be a good person, how to handle research ethics, and how to do high-quality research.”

Thatcher contends that there are not many professional accomplishments of greater value than watching a young scholar mature and flourish. “I know I’m successful when they no longer need me,” he says.

“My role is a stewardship role. By helping others get on a trajectory to where they want to go, I become better, too. It works for me because I can sleep at night.”  

Needless to say, he intends to continue bolstering students’ success at Leeds, building on the already successful work of Leeds’ faculty. He hopes to facilitate even more connections with “the rest of the world” because, he says, “it broadens students’ perspectives and makes them better scholars.” For starters, he would like to invite colleagues of his—faculty from Germany, China, Manchester and Copenhagen—to share their perspectives with PhD students.

When it comes to gaining a global perspective, he walks the talk. His academic career has followed him to universities around the world.

Here in Boulder, Leeds' Tandean Rustandy Endowed Dean Vijay Khatri looks forward to the impact Thatcher will make. “I'm extremely excited about Jason coming on board at Leeds. His presence promises to infuse our environment with fresh perspectives and groundbreaking ideas, offering immense benefits to students and faculty alike.”