Our research activity ensures a sound scientific basis for the development of innovative educational programmes, in addition to making sure our students fully appreciate the relationship between theoretical understanding and practical work.
From the researchers
“I have started a research lab that rounds up researchers and activities in Information Systems. Here, researchers and master’s programme students can pursue their passion for understanding how and why we shop online, how we are affected by mobile advertising, how social media can be applied in a business setting, among other topics”, Asle Fagerstrøm, Programme Leader, Master’s Degree Programmes.
“There’s so much hype around how social media works but how are they actually used by the news media or by political organisations, as measured by the newest social scientific methods? How to avoid turning social media into echo chambers? How to bring out their interactive, even democratic potential? These are the kinds of questions I write about and discuss with my students”, Anders Larsson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Management.
Our scientific publications are registered in the national database Cristin (Current Research Information System in Norway). Overview of scientific publications from Westerdals Oslo ACT can be found here.
– Today there are lots of great things made by graphic designers. Ridiculously great, but totally meaningless.
Associate professor at the Faculty of Communication Yann Bougaran has a wry smile on his face. With broad experience from both advertising and the art world, and marooned in Norway for nearly 20 years, the French designer seeks to set his own discipline on fire through the project ‘Socially Oriented Design’ (SOD).
– With SOD we explore how knowledge about design can be used for other purposes than purely commercial ones. We want to leave an impression on the receivers by uniting design principles with societal engagement. Graphic design is not a competition where it all comes down to awards, wins, and losses. It is a toolbox of techniques that enable us to solve problems.
The SOD project deals with themes like loneliness, social media, celebrity culture and psychiatric suffering. Exhibitions of their work have been set up in Oslo and in New York, and new exhibitions are in progress.
Another element important to the SOD project is student involvement. – We challenge the students to think differently by allowing them to be active creators in the pedagogical process. This goes beyond simply accepting disciplinary nuances, it is also a matter of acknowledging the importance of cultural context. That is why we collaborate with students from Axe Sud in Toulouse, France, and State Polytechnical University in St. Petersburg, Russia, to combine the framework of SOD with graphic techniques to comment on those issues that haunt our societies.
And more is coming, according to Bougaran. – Organisations and institutions from all over the world, for instance in South Korea and Canada, have contacted us because they are fascinated by our work. Apparently it is a lot left to explore with this kind of communication. We are just getting started.
– Obviously, social media carry possibilities of participation for people and organisations, but how is this potential actually being exploited?
Associate professor at the Faculty of Management, Anders Olof Larsson, seeks to explore this issue by analysing political debate and changes in the media industry. In his article Going viral? Comparing parties on social media during the 2014 Swedish election, where he has analysed the activity of political parties on Facebook and Twitter, the results show that even though large parties are less active on social media they still receive most attention.
– Even if one can that smaller parties would use social media more to participate in public debate it is in fact the activity on social media by larger parties that is most shared.
The relation between the public and the media is also being transformed. In another article In it for the long run? Swedish newspapers and their audiences on Facebook 2010-2014 Larsson demonstrates that even if the engagement of readers increases, the interactivity between journalists and the readership goes the other way.
– This probably has to do with an increasingly challenging situation for journalists where a limited stock of reporters is expected to churn out more and more stories. The consequence is that the quite conservative attitudes to interactivity among media organisations will maintain the norm. Although the internet invites to a dialogue between media companies and their users it is not certain that this dialogue fits with established principles of journalism and media economy.
Another explanation may be shifts in the political landscape, Larsson says.
– In my article Online, all the time? A quantitative assessment of the permanent campaign on Facebook from 2014, it is documented that right-wing populist parties get more attention than other parties, especially when there are no campaigns or elections. This means that social media may function as an ‘echo chamber’ where opinions diverging from those in mainstream media have fertile soil.
Facebook, Google, and Amazon are typical examples of digital platforms that have become part of people’s everyday life. These platforms differ from other kinds of technologies as they are created in a way that allows for a continuous development of functions when faced with new user demands. This means that they open up for constant innovation of new services.
– This platform thinking is extremely relevant for businesses and organisations, which find that their existing technology make a weak fit with their actual needs and strategies, says Knut H. Rolland, associate professor at the Faculty of Technology.
To explore this further, Rolland participates in the research project «Enacting digital platforms in organizations» whose aim is to study how platforms may improve the innovation performance flexibility of businesses. Together with associate professor Ben Eaton at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, professor Ole Hanseth from the University of Oslo, Norway, and professor Lars Mathiassen at Georgia State University, USA, Rolland studies two companies in the media and oil industry.
– Among the most pertinent issues we look into are how businesses utilize digital platforms and what kind of strategies they use for developing them. We also look at the advantages of different platform architectures and how to balance innovation with day-to-day management of these platforms. The companies we collaborate with are going through large transformations and do provide a good benchmark of the value of our findings.