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Arvind Karunakaran

Arvind Karunakaran's picture
Additional Information: : 

Behavioral Research around Big Data and Analytics Implementation & Usage

Research Category: 
Analytics and Applications
Primary CSAIL Advisor: 
Wanda Orlikowski
Short Bio: 

I'm Arvind Karunakaran, a Doctoral Candidate at MIT.  My interests are at the nexus between social science and computer science. I have prior experience conducting field-based research in a number of different settings, including healthcare, petrochemical refineries, and software services. Apart from research, I like literature, movies, and travel.

I'm from Chennai, India. Before coming to MIT, I did my Master's in Information Sciences and Technology from Penn State University, and a Bachelor's in Computer Science and Engineering from Anna University, India.

Description of Research: 

My research could be broadly divided into two streams.

First, I'm interested in examining how people interpret and make sense of data, how data is reconfigured into insights, and whether people act upon those insights or not. More specifically, I look at the interplay among intuitive, experiential, and data-driven modes of work and decision-making, with a focus on the tensions that may arise between them, and the role that information technologies play in the process. Empirically, I look at the cognitive, cultural, and organizational barriers around the implementation and usage of "big data" and "advanced analytics" in firms. In that regard, my research explores the following:

Challenges around Big Data and Analytics Implementation: First, I would like to unpack the various cognitive, cultural, and organizational challenges that might emerge during the process of establishing the foundations of "big data" and "analytics" initiatives. These include challenges ranging from the identification of reliable data sources and data harmonization to cross-functional collaboration for collectively building the capabilities for performing analytics.

The Last Mile” Problem of Analytics: Second, I would like to understand what happens once analytics is put to practice. I will focus on how and why people on the ground (i.e., the front-line employees) use or resist the insights emerging from analytics, and what firms could do about it.

Second, I'm interested in the emergence and evolution of new organizational such as "multi-sided" platforms and their associated "ecosystems". Specifically, I look at issues around trust/trust breaches, governance, and identity as firms move from product-based to platform-based businesses. I have a number of working project in this area, including how do firms govern their platform-based ecosystem that is characterized by heterogeneous needs and interests, how do they "on-board" third-part developers and ISVs into their platform, what cultural and organizational challenges that firms face as they restructure from being product-based to platform-based businesses, and more.

My research has been published in journals such as Research Policy, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and in conferences such as ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work, International Health Informatics Symposium, and International Conference on Information Systems. One of my co-authored papers won the Best Student Paper award at the Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technologies conference.

For my research, I'm awarded the MIT Energy Fellowship, the Roberts, Hammond & Krasner MIT Entrepreneurship Center research grant, and the Design Management Institute Research Scholarship.


Garud, R., Gehman, J., and Karunakaran, A. (2014) Boundaries, Breaches, and Bridges: The Case of Climategate.  Research Policy. (Equal Contribution; Authorship in Alphabetical Order)

Karunakaran, A., Reddy, M, and Spence, P.R. (2013). Toward a Model of Collaborative Information Behavior in Organizations. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (Flagship journal for Information Sciences research.)