Timo Käkölä, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Tenured Associate Professor

Competency for Tenured Full Professor positions in both Information Systems and Software Engineering Research

Department of Computer Science and Information Systems in University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Formerly a Senior Research Scientist of the Academy of Finland at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA

Research Agenda

Software industry is one of the fastest growing indust­ries in the world. It is thus very important to research soft­ware business processes and related knowledge manage­ment practices and information systems (IS) in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of software businesses. The importance of this research is magnified because:

·        Software is increasingly becoming a key enabler of other industries.

·        Software is more and more commonly embedded in the products and services of other industries.

·        Other industries are becoming increasingly know­led­ge driven and thus more similar in their management problems to the software industry.

The lessons learnt from the research are thus likely to ha­ve relevance and value for designing flexible and effective business processes and information systems architectures in many other industrial sectors, too.


Software business is an interesting concept for teaching and research also due to its multi-disciplinary, systemic nature. Software business is a broader concept than, for example, software engineering or software production. Software business refers to a holistic, process-driven, cross-functional, and multi-disciplinary view of software enterprises. According to this view, all functional areas of a software business such as product planning and management, systems and software engineering, customer support, and information and knowledge, human resource, marketing, legal, and financial management need to be addressed in a balanced, process-centric way that draws upon and supports the strategic development of the company. Software engineering is an important functional discipline but it can only realize its full potential when it is seen in the holistic context of software business.


The research agenda of Dr. Käkölä focuses on the socio-technical design of flexible and effective business models and processes and enabling information systems architectures in software-intensive high-tech corporations. His research interests include

·      ICT-enabled organizational designs for effective organizational and inter-or­ga­ni­za­tio­nal creation and sharing of knowledge (e.g., eSourcing),

·      the construction of Information Systems Design Theories (ISDTs) for classes of information systems that support the learning and enactment of routines, breakdown management when routines unexpectedly break down, and the redesign of knowledge-intensive business processes, and

·      the business models and processes of software-intensive product-oriented ven­tures.


Dr. Käkölä is active in the editorial boards of three international journals and runs information systems and software business research related mini-tracks in international conferences such as Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences (HICSS) and Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS). This work provides him with excellent opportunities to work with both junior and senior experts in the field.


He has published a number of articles in leading scientific journals and con­fe­ren­ces. Most of his research has focused on developing and validating Information Systems Design Theories. ISDTs make the development process more trac­table for developers by focusing their attention and rest­ricting their options, thereby improving development out­comes. In addition, ISDTs inform researchers by sugges­ting testable research hypotheses. He has co-developed a number of domain-specific ISDTs for

·      Requirements Management Systems,

·      Software Change Management Systems,

·      Software Project Estimation and Measurement Systems,

·      Integrated Requirements and Release Management Systems, and

·      Version Management Systems.

He has also developed a domain-independent ISDT for Dual Information Systems that is explained in more detail in section “Education”.


Dr. Käkölä served as the editor-in-chief of the book Software Product Lines: Research Issues in Engi­neering and Management published by Sprin­ger in August 2006. The book crystallizes and integrates some of the most central research results of an ambitious six-year Euro­pean Union funded Eureka-ITEA research program on software product line engineering that was executed with more than 100 million Euros of European public money. He served in the research program successfully for several years before being appointed to the editor-in-chief position, where he coordinated research activities of experts from companies and research institutions in 10 countries for two years. The book is an excellent resource for creating advanced courses on software product line engineering and management for practitioners and graduate and doctoral students. He is running an advanced course on product line engineering and management based on the book and the other two books created by the program.


Interna­tional Standardization Organization (ISO/JTC1/SC7 Soft­ware and Systems Engineering (http://www.jtc1-sc7.org/)) appointed him in 2006 as one of the editors responsible for leading the software product line engineering and management related international standard­iza­tion activities. The background, status, and potential future directions of the standardization projects are discussed in the academic article to be published by IEEE.

Industrial Collaboration

Delivering high quality teaching and research in the context of information systems and software business is practically impossible without extensive collaboration with the software industry. Long-term collaboration between academia and software industry contributes to the creation and sharing of knowledge in this rapidly advancing context. Timo Käkölä co-operates in many ways with the industry. In this decade he has served for three years in the board of The Finnish Information Processing Association (FIPA) that (among other activities) promotes professional growth of information technology (IT) professionals and acts as a sponsor and organizer of research projects of national significance in the IT field. It has as members some 20 000 individuals as well as hundreds of companies and other types of organizations. FIPA is the largest actor in its field in Finland. He has led a software product company and served in the board of a Finnish software company publicly listed in one of the Stock Exchange Lists of HEX . He is willing to selectively accept such responsibilities in order to learn more about the strategic and operations management of software businesses and to generate research projects in areas most relevant for the software industry. He has also been in close research collaboration with Nokia and several other companies for a long time. During spring 2001, he co-authored in Finnish two reports in research projects funded by Tekes, the National Technology Agency. One report investigated software business research in the United States, the other “Digitaalinen verkostotalous: Tietotekniikan mahdollisuudet liiketoiminnan kehittämisessä” focused on how IT can be used to support businesses in the digital economy. He has also served in the board of the Finnish Chapter of the International Council on Systems Engineering for many years. Systems engineering and integration is an important domain for information systems and software business research because software products and services are more and more commonly developed and sold as components that are integrated in large systems such as enterprise resource planning systems and mobile networks and terminals.


Timo Käkölä completed his M.Sc. and Ph.Lic. degrees in Information Systems in University of Turku in 1989 and 1994 respectively. In 1992 he finalized his M.B.A. in Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration and most of the course work for his Ph.D. degree in University of Texas at Austin, USA. His studies focused on marketing management (including international marketing management) and financial management (including corporate finance and global financial markets), that is, two critical managerial domains of international software enterprises. He completed his Ph.D. in Information Systems 1996 in University of Turku, Finland.

His Ph.D. dissertation “Dual Information Systems in Hyperknowledge Organizations” developed:

  • An organizational design called Hyperknowledge Organization for effective and efficient sharing of knowledge in order to execute and redesign business processes effectively, and
  • A meta-design of an Information Systems Design Theory for Dual Information Systems prescribing the design of an information systems architecture that enables and is enabled by the Hyperknowledge Organization design.

A central research issue addressed in the dissertation was the "design-use dualism of technology". During the development of software, part of the work-domain related knowledge is formalized and encoded in the algorithms and database designs of software products, often making it difficult for the users of the products to understand and change this knowledge. This design/use-dualism is problematic when business needs to be developed faster than is allowed by complex software systems. The Information Systems Design Theory for Dual Information Systems (DIS) helps developers and domain experts create information systems architectures that bridge the design/use-dualism by linking software products conceptually with users’ work processes and with user organizations’ business processes. It provides a set of services that enable and reinforce both effective working and the questioning and (re)engineering of routines. The meta-design of the ISDT has a three-layered conceptual structure:

1.      people draw on the business layer that organizes business processes and software products as a holistic system in which people are responsible for subsystems they can understand and manage in order to work, learn, and handle unexpected breakdowns;

2.      self-organizing project teams use the project layer of DIS to create innovative work and information systems (re)designs and to ensure that the sub-systems of software products and business processes remain up-to-date, understandable, and manageable on the business layer; and

3.      the knowledge sharing server stores these redesigns and makes them organizationally available to facilitate working, learning, and subsequent redesign efforts.


Figure 1: The meta-design of the ISDT for DIS in a business unit of a hyperknowledge organization

The dissertation was considered exceptionally innovative and theoretically unique by the international review board: Professor Omar El Sawy, University of Southern California, USA; Professor Lorne Olfman, Claremont Graduate University, USA; and Professor Kalle Lyytinen, University of Jyväskylä. Its overview was presented as a research paper at Ernst and Young Foundation/ICIS Doctoral Consortium, 16th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), December 8-10, 1995, Renesse, the Netherlands. The research paper was considered as one of the best works of the consortium.

Ideas in the dissertation have been refined in journal articles such as:

The preferred research approach for these works was conceptual research supported by constructive research. Since then, the meta-design of the ISDT for Dual Information Systems has been evaluated empirically using the case study method and developed further.

Teaching experience

Timo Käkölä has focused his teaching on software business related issues since 1999. He organized advanced seminars on the Basics of Software Business during the fall of 1999 and 2000 and then transformed them into highly popular courses that have been run for years. In spring 2001 he organized the first course that focused on taking a holistic view of E-Business and Software Business. This course E-Business Models had Professor Wita Wojtkowski as its principal lecturer. He has also co-operated closely with the SoftaPro Product Manager – training programme of Lifelong Learning Institute Dipoli of Helsinki University of Technology in order to develop a multi-disciplinary teaching curriculum for product managers of software businesses.

Since starting a teaching and research career in 1990, Dr. Käkölä has also developed an extensive teaching experience in the following areas:

  • Business Process Re-engineering and Simulation
  • Computers and Society
  • Enterprise Resource Planning and Knowledge Management Systems
  • Knowledge Management
  • Management Information Systems
  • Object-Oriented Information Systems Analysis and Design
  • Software Product Line Engineering and Management
  • Software Project Estimation and Benchmarking
  • Systems Analysis and Design
  • Theoretical Foundations of Information Systems

Timo Käkölä has also lectured on these topics in various universities in Finland and abroad such as:

  • Boise State University, USA
  • Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, USA
  • Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia
  • Helsinki University of Technology, Finland
  • Information and Communications University, South Korea
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • North Carolina State University, USA
  • Stevens Institute of Technology, USA
  • Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill, USA
  • University of California, Irvine, USA
  • University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • University of Hohenheim, Germany
  • University of Milan, Italy
  • University of Oulu, Finland

Conferences and seminars organized

Dr. Käkölä served as the General Chair of the 22nd Information systems Research seminar In Scandinavia (IRIS 22) conference, which took place August 7-10, 1999 in Keuruu, Finland. The topics of the research papers covered the most important research topics in the field, including knowledge management, software process improvement, mobile informatics, and electronic commerce. He edited the conference proceedings where 92 research papers were published. Most of the authors were in relatively early stages of their research careers making the job of the chairman especially challenging and rewarding. He was responsible for organizing the information systems courses of Jyväskylä Summer School in 1999 and 2000. The courses focused on knowledge management and enterprise resource planning systems and were targeted at Ph.D. students and advanced M.Sc. students. In 1999 the visiting professors were Mark Ackerman (University of California, Irvine, USA) and Sabine Hirt (City University of Hong Kong, China). In 2000, professors David Kang (University of Cincinnati, USA), Judy Scott (University of Colorado at Denver, USA), and Herna Viktor (University of Pretoria, South Africa) lectured in the summer school. He also served as the faculty member in the annual Ph.D. Summer School in Design and Management of Information Technology for several years advising doctoral students from more than 10 countries in the field of information systems in Magleås close to Copenhagen.