Information knowledge and innovation management

Focusing on the management of practices and processes in dynamic and collaborative work settings across a variety of organisations.

Man and woman in a meeting.

Our research themes

The knowledge and information management research group focuses on the management of information, knowledge and innovation practices and processes, mainly in collaborative and dynamic work settings, in a variety of organisational and inter-organisational contexts.

The group has a strong interdisciplinary nature and draws on theoretical perspectives from organisational and sociological theory, strategic management, information science, information systems and information technology.

We bring diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives to this area, with an emphasis on interpretive approaches to discourse, knowledge and power.

Key research areas

The KIM group research is clustered around the following areas:

  • Social practices
    • the social dynamics of information and knowledge discovery, sharing and transformation
    • organisational adaptation and knowledge sharing
    • boundary-spanning practices
    • social networks and knowledge communities
  • Strategy
    • knowledge and information management governance and strategies
    • knowledge absorption and innovation
    • intangible asset valuation
  • Systems
    • systems in use, knowledge work and the digital workplace
    • social enterprise systems and innovation
    • systems evaluation and change management
    • digital identity

Projects and research areas

See details of our projects below.

Accountability & Ethics in a Digital Ecosystem

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The emergence of digital ecosystems presents both opportunities and challenges. Their existence provides managers and organisations with the opportunity to conduct research about their end- users and to create new products and services. While end-users can also personalise and even co- create value via their interactions with the services they receive. At the same time the digital platforms, data flows, technical and social systems that constitute a digital ecosystem, raise a host of accountability and ethical challenges arising from the diversity of stakeholders and perspectives involved. These include managers responsible for the development and implementation of data-driven services, academic researchers, software and solutions providers, platform owners, government law-makers and regulators, the public and end-users. The Accountability and Ethics Challenge Working Group (ACCEDE) is working with key stakeholder groups to:

  • Advance knowledge and understanding of the accountability and ethical challenges that arise when working with data in real-world practical contexts of application.
  • Assess how these challenges are currently being addressed.
  • Provide suggestions for how stakeholder responses to the accountability and ethics arising from the emergence of digital ecosystems can be improved and governed more effectively.

Visit the project website

Project lead: Dr Jonathan Foster


Drivers of Industrial Rejuvenation in UK and Portugal Old Industrial Regions

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The project aimed at investigating how organisational and network capital influence path renewal and path creation processes. It followed a qualitative case study approach, which allowed the investigation of industry rejuvenation manifestations in a natural setting.

South Yorkshire and the North Region of Portugal were chosen as archetypical old industrial regions concentrating a variety of firms that have been successful in their adaptation by the innovative restructuring of their traditional manufacturing activities.

Participants in the study comprised Managing Directors of firms belonging to the metal and engineering industry and the textile and footwear sectors, and actors of the regional innovation system – Higher Education Institutions, Research & Development centres, business incubators, local executive boards, chambers of commerce and industry.

The qualitative, interview-based research design gave participants an opportunity to reflect at length on how industry in their respective regions has proved its resilience in the face of a context of global economic crisis.

More specifically, participants held widely consensual views on the role played by regional embedded competences in the shaping of firms’ turn to innovation, productivity, resource-efficiency and high value-added to compete in global markets.

Access to knowledge transfer centres that operate the integration of knowledge assets that are unique to the regions was also considered pivotal to the leveraging of high value-added goods and services, and to the effective management of value chains.

The project findings contribute to an enhanced understanding of how organisational capital (manifested notably through working practices that support intra and inter-organisational knowledge flows) and regional network capital (manifested notably through engagement in collective learning with innovation actors, combined with the exploitation of geographical proximity opportunities to create and distribute knowledge) support the development of rejuvenation trajectories of firms embedded in old industrial regions.

Watch the project video

The project culminated in the organisation of the Industrial Renaissance Forum – a combined stakeholder engagement and results dissemination event held at the Information School.

The Forum celebrated the industrial rejuvenation trajectories of two European old industrial regions: South Yorkshire and the North Region of Portugal.

The experience and know how of key stakeholders - EU Committee of the Regions, UK and Portugal firms, enterprise partnerships, R&D centres, local government – was brought together in discussion, giving participants cross-cutting insight into practical projects, good practice, governance issues, and the dynamics of regional innovation.

Project lead: Dr Jorge Martins

Funder: Regional Studies Association

From Marketplace to Marketspace

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The aims of this project were (a) To raise awareness among market traders of the business opportunities offered by ecommerce, and (b) To enable market traders to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to trade online.

In order to demonstrate the business potential of ecommerce, UG students studying on the department’s Information Management in the Digital Economy module worked alongside market traders; interviewing traders, understanding their business context, defining a marketspace opportunity, trialling the use of various Internet business tools and developing an online presence that would help traders to market their business online and to enlarge their current customer base.

The main benefit of the project to market traders was to raise their awareness of the business potential of the Internet.

The main benefit accruing to the university is the project’s contribution to undergraduate learning in the areas of information management and e-business. The project also enabled students to see the relevance and timeliness of one of the department’s undergraduate modules and the content of its curriculum to current trends in the marketplace.

The project has highlighted a continuing divide in the digital economy between those businesses that have the capability and know-how to exploit the Internet for enterprise and those who do not.

Duration: 2010-2011

Sponsor: Knowledge Transfer, University of Sheffield

IKIM participant: Angela Lin and Jonathan Foster

A model for research methods training for new research students in libraries and Information Studies

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This project aimed at developing a training model and seminar series for research students in Information Studies.

It addresses the wide range of methodologies that is used in information studies; by the pooling of expertise, and the development of a common package, aimed so that students are more widely exposed to them than HE institutions would be able to do individually.

A decision tree was developed which will assist students in adopting and adapting appropriate methodologies for their chosen topic.

Project duration: 2007-2008

Sponsor: AHRC Collaborative Research Training Provision for Doctoral Students.

Partners: Loughborough University

IKIM team: Ana Vasconcelos

Riders have spoken: designing and evaluating an archive for replaying interactive performances

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In recent years, a number of organizations within the field of electronic arts have devoted attention to the task of archiving and preserving, often transitory, electronic works of art and digital performances.

These organizations have tried to address some of the problematic aspects of archiving and preserving electronic media, e.g. the research and development process that is often involved, user interactions, distributed authorship of the work, and dependency on hardware and software components, by developing documentation strategies and metadata models that aid in accessing the materials and increasing their interoperability.

In addition, interactive games and performances present particular challenges for capturing, archiving, and replaying.

These challenges relate to the often distributed nature of the artwork, its open design, the multiple participants involved, and the heterogeneous nature of the data, e.g. audio files, video files, GPS data, generated by the performance.

Trying to capture the live character of such performances is extremely difficult. Rider Spoke, the mixed reality interactive performance that we archived and replayed, was developed by the artists Blast Theory in collaboration with the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham as part of the European research project Integrated Project of Pervasive Games (IPerg).

Sponsor: AHRC

Partners: Steve Benford (University of Nottingham), Gabriella Giannachi (University of Exeter)

IKIM participant: Dr Jonathan Foster


The strategic turnaround of traditional SMEs in Portugal in a time of economic downturn: a knowledge management perspective

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This project aims to identify and conceptualise the extent to which knowledge management related core competences (e.g. sustaining absorptive capacity, innovation and knowledge integration, the balance between knowledge exploration and knowledge exploitation) formed the basis for the strategic turnaround of SMEs operating in low tech traditional sectors in Portugal, notably through the transition from a low-cost oriented strategy to a focused differentiation based strategy, aimed at the high end of the market, and sustained by a new understanding of the market.

Sponsor: The Information School's Distinguished Scholar Scheme and the Santander Research Mobility Award

Project partners: ISEGI (Lisbon School of Economics and Management)

KIM team: Jorge Martins and Ana Vasconcelos.

Find My Migraine

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Co-investigator: Jorge Tiago Martins

Funding: The Sheffield Crucible

Migraines have a profound negative impact on individuals’ social and work life. Due to their debilitating impact, migraines can lead to absence from work with consequent loss of productivity.

Despite migraines being a substantial burden, the needs of migraine sufferers are frequently unmet. In this project an inter-disciplinary team joining researchers from the School of Clinical Dentistry, the Information School, the Management School and the Department of Psychology developed a prototype for a smartphone application in which different inputs known to influence the development of migraines (e.g. mood, stress, eating diary, sleeping patterns, daily events) can be easily recorded.

Once the inputs are recorded the application creates statistics and graphs that can be sent to a doctor for helping monitoring the patient health.

Additionally, the application generates warning signals that can be used by the migraine sufferer as an alert for future migraine attacks.

Adopting epistemologies of the Global South to reimagine innovation for social inclusion and environmental sustainability

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Focusing on Peru (ODA country), this project gathered leading experts interested in exploring the extent to which innovation (policy & implementation) can be guided and informed by indigenous knowledges. It adopted the concept of Buen Vivir (sumac kawsay), which stems from Andean indigenous bodies of knowledge and represents an ontological and epistemological alternative to Western thought.

Funded by University of Sheffield GCRF QR small research grants

IKIM member: Andrea Jimenez

Metropolitan water observatory

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This research will take place in Lima, Peru, in collaboration with KNOW City Partner, Foro Ciudades Para La Vida. Their project, ‘Metropolitan water observatory’, will explore the potential of co-developing a virtual platform for citizens of Lima and Callao to input information, concerns and issues regarding water, in order to produce evidence that can influence decision-making towards more equal water distribution

Funded by KNOW: Knowledge in action for urban equality, a project funded by the ESRC under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

IKIM member: Andrea Jimenez

Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design

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Focused on addressing the needs of mid-size accounting and law firms to deliver high value client-focused professional services, the ESRC-funded Next Generation Professional Services Firms project uses a 'design thinking' approach to identify and develop strategies for evaluating, adopting and implementing AI. The project is one of three successful bids to the Industrial Strategy Challenges Fund 'Next Generation Services' call. It will explore and identify the main areas of 'threat' and 'opportunity' offered by the adoption of AI in accounting and law as well as analyse the potential barriers to AI-based business model innovation. The findings will be used to offer proposals as to how these might be addressed. Alongside the technological barriers, the research will seek to explore the institutional, regulatory and societal challenges that face Professional Services Firms.

Funded value: £1,437,084

PI: Professor Tim Vorley, Sheffield University Management School; Information School Co-I: Jorge Tiago Martins

Visit the project website

Group members

Click on any name to bring up more details and contact information.

Academic staff

Dr Jonathan Foster (Head of Group)

Dr Ana Cristina Vasconcelos

Dr Andrea Jimenez

Dr Sophie Rutter

PhD researchers

Michael Adetu

Jihad Al Wahshi

Ashwag Aseeri

Tyas Darmaningrat

Omar Diaz Fragoso

Nana Musa

James Toner

Muhammad Usman Noor

Naveendra Weerakoon

Yuzhen Zhu

Zulfadli Zulfadli

Visiting scholars

Dr Igor Bernik

Head of the Information Security Lab, Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security - University of Maribor

Dr Elsa Fontainha

ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Universidade de Lisboa

Funders and collaborators

Research carried out within this group is funded by a wide range of organisations.


  • European Union FP7 programme
  • Santander
  • Cross-cutting Directors of Research and Innovation Interdisciplinary Scholarships
  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences (HEA-ICS)
  • Centre for Inquiry-Based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences (CILASS)
  • Regional Studies Association



A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.