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Abstract

We report on the design and implementation of an unusual course in Information Systems (IS) management built around an extended case series: a fictitious but reality-based story about the trials and tribulations of a newly appointed but not-technically-trained Chief Information Officer (CIO) in his first year on the job. Together the cases constitute a true-to-life “novel” about IS management (published, in fact, as a novel, as well as individual cases). Four principles guided development of the series and its associated pedagogy: 1) Emphasis on integrative, soft-skill, and business-oriented aspects of IS, independent of underlying technologies; 2) Student derivation and ongoing refinement of cumulative theoretical frameworks arrived at via in-class discussion; 3) Identification of a set of core issues vital to practice that collectively approximate IS management as a business discipline; and 4) Design for student engagement, in particular by basing the case “story” on the monomyth, a literary pattern common to important narratives around the world. A supporting website facilitates sharing of teaching materials and experiences by faculty using the case series. We report results from using this curriculum with undergraduate and graduate students in two universities in different countries, and with executives at a multinational corporation and in an executive program at Harvard Business School. Our results suggest that a “novel-based” approach holds considerable promise for use at undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels, and that it might have advantages in addressing the so-called “enrollment crisis” in IS education, especially with the generation of “digital natives” who have come of age in an environment crowded with engaging approaches to communication and entertainment that compete for their attention.

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