Visiting Scholar: Jan Recker

Terry visiting scholar discusses culture, history and geography and how they impact technology uptake
Visiting international scholar Jan Recker speaks with faculty and graduate students at the Terry Department of Management Information Systems

Attitudes toward food, nature, religion and work vary from country to country. The same is true about technology.

Jan Recker, Terry College’s inaugural visiting international scholar and Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow and Nucleus Professor for Information Systems and Digital Innovation at the University of Hamburg, has built a career studying the different ways people put technology to work.

History, geography and cultural norms play a part in understanding how companies adopt and adapt to new technologies, Recker told Terry College international business students during a round table discussion this month.

The Terry College of Business created the Visiting International Business Scholar program in 2023, offering prominent scholars from non-U.S. institutions the opportunity to collaborate and engage with faculty and students. The program intends to enhance academic research and allow scholars to share their expertise through teaching and speaking opportunities.

“The international visiting scholar program creates a unique opportunity for globally renowned scholars to engage with Terry faculty and students and bring their expertise and cutting-edge research to Athens,” said Santanu Chatterjee, Terry College’s associate dean for diversity, international and master’s programs. “This program underscores Terry’s firm commitment toward fostering a vision for global scholarship as we prepare the next generation of business leaders.”

Recker is internationally recognized as a leader in information systems research and cohosts the This I.S. Research podcast with former Terry College MIS researcher Nicholas Berente.

He taught in Australia for more than a decade before returning home to teach in Germany in 2022. Germany has a more developed economy and tech sector than Australia, but the Germans are reticent to embrace advances such as digital medical records and digital passport processing.

Some of the largest German retailers have been reticent to take large bets on establishing e-commerce platforms, while Australian firms developed hybrid retail services before Amazon devised a significant market share there.

“Australia is not an exceptionally innovative country but is a much more modern society,” Recker said. “And I found that completely weird, right? There are lots of reasons why things are this way. For instance, Germany is 1,000 years old, and Australia is about 100 years old. They are going to deal with things differently.”

The way one thousand years of bureaucracy and business practices can shape how Germans embrace or reject change is just one example of the types of scenarios Recker studies. That’s why travel and understanding how business cultures vary is important.

It’s never just the bottom line that shapes a firm’s use of technology.

During his two weeks at the University of Georgia, Recker spoke with graduate students about his work and collaborated with faculty members in the Department of Management Information Systems on upcoming research projects.

“It’s been great having Jan here,” said Gerald Kane, C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Chair in Business Administration and department head for Management Information Systems. “He presented his research to the entire Terry faculty, worked with our doctoral students, and initiated several new research projects with members of our department.  I’ve been impressed with how well Jan has used the time with us, and the great hosts Terry College has been for him.”

Nominations for the 2024-2024 Terry College of Business created the Visiting International Business Scholar close on March 1, 2024.