iSchool has a new faculty member this quarter-Jochen Scholl. The staff
at the Silverfish decided to interview him so we could get the scoop
on his research interests, the classes he's teaching and his life before
the iSchool. Now's your chance to get to know Jochen and to find out
why he came to Seattle.
We edited our original interview with Jochen for space and for clarity.
Where did you study? What's your background?
I hold a Ph.D. from the University at Albany. The University at Albany
had one of the first multidisciplinary Ph.D. programs in information
science drawing from a total of 13 departments... They had really to
work together, and it gave information science [a] very open flavor
of investigative research-spanning across boundaries and trying to understand
what other people are doing and bringing that together. Actually my
thesis, which [was] on firm survival-private sector firm survival, what
makes firms long-lived-actually combines research and builds theory
from various disciplines, including economics, sociology, information
science or information system design and
So, yes, the program I come from
also ran along the lines the information
school has had
I also hold a
Master in Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business
Administration in Zurich, Switzerland, which is an American school,
even though it's in Switzerland. And I also hold a degree in what one
would call computer science-an undergraduate degree-so I have a technical
background, a mathematical background. [I] now focus more on informational
learning themes and knowledge management with an emphasis on knowledge
as a process, rather than knowledge as a stock. [We've] got all the
accumulations of knowledge in the libraries and elsewhere on the Web,
we are not quite as good at understanding the process-how we
get to knowledge, how we utilize it, how we recreate it...
many of those things are really soft topics, so it's not easy to do
this really straightforward research-here's the data, here's my quantitative
model and here is my set of results
Since we have [a] relatively
ill-defined problem we have no hypotheses in many cases, which [means]
that we have to start where we can... So, my themes of interest are
those soft topics of organizational learning and organizational development
and what have you in that regard
I also do interview research...
Are you teaching any classes currently?
I am teaching IMT 581
The title of the class is right in the middle
of what I am doing-Leadership and the Management of Change. However,
we have a program under development
now we have a course that has
slightly changed in orientation. It's internally no longer called Leadership
and the Management of Change-the Leadership has gone-but Information
and the Management of Change. And we are looking, actually, into many
things including organizational learning, knowledge management of course,
but then more precisely, competitive intelligence, benchmarking [and]
best practices. And since this all makes sense only if you want to apply
that in the real world, and since all this is done in the real world
as projects-we also teach project management in this course
inherently, this is a strategic management course...
Are you going to continue teaching the same series of classes next quarter?
I will also teach LIS 580, which has many common themes. As I understand,
the curriculum there is more stable than in the MSIM track. But I'll
look at that, and my strategy always has been if something has a proven
track record, don't change it, and then enhance it over time
Did you just move here?
I'm still in the process of moving. Actually, I still live on Fairview
in this hotel, which is nice. But I found my first temporary place now
and I'm looking for a house
So, you moved here from Albany?
From Albany, right. I had a wonderful drive across the country. I left
Albany in mid-November. It was the first snow storm in Albany and I
just got out in time. When I was in Ohio, the snow was gone and I had
a very nice drive over here and learned a lot about the country
I went through the Dakotas, into Montana, Wyoming, I stopped over and
went to Mount Rushmore, of course. It was impressive. It's-the people
are so friendly, it's amazing.
How do you like Seattle so far?
Since I was born into a truly urban environment in Europe and came to
appreciate urbanity, Seattle is just my place. Actually [last year]
the first time
that I came to Seattle. When I was
in the industry, working for a company of the name of Apple Computer
as a regional manager in Germany, I came to Seattle for the first time-I
guess that was 1990. The Boeing Company and-I guess the name has changed
now, Seafirst Bank, does it still exist?
Bank of America.
Yes, it is now Bank of America. Well, they amazed everybody with having
[a] large installation of Macintoshes hooked up to mainframe computers-and
nobody in Europe could believe that. So, I took over some-today we would
call them CIO's-and they had evidence that this really existed and worked
really smoothly. In the aftermath of this visit to Seattle then, we
were able to convince them that this was a good proposition-to have
some Macintoshes in their mainframe world. That was actually my first
time to Seattle. And ever since, [I've liked] the city very much
I'm a yacht master, I'm a sailor, I'm a scuba diver, I like to hike-I
mean, this is just where you want to be.
That was my next question-what do you do in your free time? Outdoor
Yes, I do a lot of outdoor stuff. I think all this brainwork needs a
balance.... I do a lot of sailing, I did a lot of sailing in the past
I'm a dive master, I also do some of the other advanced stuff in scuba
diving. I hike a lot.
Have you done any hiking yet?
Not yet. Actually I just came back on January 11 from Hawaii where I
went to a conference
but already I'm a member of the yacht club
here, I'm a member of the scuba diving group [and] I play soccer
I [also] frequent the pool quite a bit. I haven't found out what the
best times are because I come with my fins and my mask
if you are
in scuba diving, you want to make sure that you have the mental stability
if something happens underneath, that you can safely get back to the
surface. And if you have [a] buddy who runs into problems, you may even
be required to help the other person and you may be out of air. So what
you do is you try to [keep in] good shape. That means that you also
do this breath keeping stuff-you always have to alert the guards: "I'm
going down now for two minutes. Don't be worried, I'll wave my hand!"
And they're beginning to know me now.
Do you have anything else to share about your plans for being here?
I'm very happy to be here. Obviously, as an incoming professor, you
need some time for orientation. But this so far is such a wonderful
opportunity. I'm amazed about the quality of everything here-the high
standards, the students, colleagues, the university
it very much to be here.