Skip to main content

Henri Pirkkalainen becomes Professor of Information and Knowledge Management

Published on 4.4.2024
Tampere University
Puolivartalokuva professori Henri Pirkkalaisesta. Hänellä on yllään kauluspaita ja tummansininen puvun takki.
Photo: Jonne Renvall / Tampereen yliopisto
At the beginning of 2024, Henri Pirkkalainen started in his new post as Professor of Information and Knowledge Management at Tampere University. The post is located at the Faculty of Management and Business and his work concentrates on Organisational Information Systems.

Pirkkalainen has had a fast start in the new professorship. Since the beginning of the year, he has led the Doctoral Programme in Business and Technology Management (TOTO), with which he wants to promote doctoral education at the faculty. He is also Vice Director of the Research Centre of Gameful Realities, which is the joint research centre of three faculties. In this role, he wants to build bridges between departments and faculties. Pirkkalainen is also the editor-in-chief of the Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems in 2024. The new job description is thus very diverse.

“My work involves several different tasks. One of the key roles is to maintain a good project base, which enables the development of my research team and high-quality research. We are already heavily involved in leading many Information Systems (IS) related tasks of ECIU University. They include new digital skills certificates (i.e., micro-credentials) and gamified student guidance, which explores the role of artificial intelligence and recommendation systems in building students’ learning paths. We also have a good foundation in metaverse research projects internationally and in Finland, for which we are already planning several different follow-up activities,” Pirkkalainen says.

Metaverse refers to a social multi-user virtual 3D reality.

The heart of research is to highlight the value of information systems

Pirkkalainen sees himself as being pro-technology. The research approaches highlight how the negative phenomena and impacts arising from technology use can be mitigated in such a way that the technology will provide added value. For example, he studies technostress and resistance to technology which are very topical themes.

“With technological development, information systems are increasingly relied upon, and it is difficult to, e.g., find tasks that are not facilitated with different types of communication tools or management information systems (e.g., ERP systems). Technology is an important tool, but very complex problems emerge from its use, such as technostress in all its manifestations. It erodes efficiency, motivation and has also been linked to burnout,” Pirkkalainen clarifies.

His latest collaboration studies with researchers at Tampere University and the University of Jyväskylä show the effects of immersive features of the metaverse at the workplace, and employees' fears of working with physical robots, which affect the everyday lives of, among others, industrial workers.

A research career was not an obvious choice

Pirkkalainen completed his master’s degree at the University of Jyväskylä in 2005, and when he was writing his master’s thesis, he still thought that he would end up becoming an IT consultant. During his last year of studies, he also began to coordinate EU projects, which gave him confidence in his research work. His project supervisor, Jan Pawlowski, finally got him to work on a doctoral thesis in

information system science. Pirkkalainen also names Pawlowski as one of his role models who believed in the research career of his supervisee before he did himself. In 2016, Pirkkalainen started working as Associate Professor of Information and Knowledge Management at the Tampere University of Technology (TUT).

Pirkkalainen says that his performance during the school years and even university was mediocre. However, he wants his story to encourage students to pursue a research career.

“I try to give faith to my master’s students that much depends on a person’s motivation and passion at different phases of life,” he says.

Pirkkalainen also plays drums semi-professionally and considered music as a career choice, but eventually ended up as a researcher. However, playing the drums has continued and he thinks that a creative hobby also supports doing research.

Baking sourdough bread is another passion. A baking process that takes days is immersive. He thinks that research, playing the drums and baking are interconnected: “All are sustained long-term activities where inspiration must be found daily.”

Aiming to open new avenues of research from the dark side of knowledge management

Pirkkalainen’s goals in research are clear.

“In the long run, I want to be a good researcher and partner with whom to pursue high-quality and long-term research. In the short term, over the next 3-5 years, I want to open new avenues of research on the less studied, dark side of knowledge management,” he says.

Next in his research, Pirkkalainen wants to focus more deeply on technology use themes between different realities.

“Virtual reality is a key tool of our team, and a large part of our students also use social VR or more familiarly metaverse as a collaboration tool. However, in addition to the potential benefits, there are several question marks about the forms of work and the potential negative effects that we will try to shed light on over the next few years,” he says.

At Tampere University, Pirkkalainen wants to leave his mark in the field of knowledge management and especially in the literature on information systems. He wants to focus on ways to keep new and old technologies as effective tools in, e.g. knowledge work and organisations, in a way that the adverse effects arising from their use can be kept under control. Pirkkalainen also wants to create a positive image of research and strengthen Tampere University’s already strong research brand internationally.

Author: Marianna Urkko