Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level



Information Systems


Rajiv Sabherwal

Committee Member

Timothy Paul Cronan

Second Committee Member

Varun Grover

Third Committee Member

Elena Karahanna


competition, coordination, game, gameful information system, gamification, play


Play and games shape, and are shaped by, culture. They represent an integral and ubiquitous component of humanity. Technological advances are blurring the lines between work and play, and their increasing convergence requires deeper understanding. Organizations seek to harness the motivational power of games to improve instrumental outcomes but face numerous challenges in doing so. Extant theory struggles to inform practice on the use of gameful experiences to achieve practical goals. This dissertation presents three essays that explore the domain of gameful information systems (IS), defined as IS that are designed or perceived to afford or support user experiences similar to those associated with play or games. Essay 1 develops a theoretical classification of gameful IS and then refines it using field interviews and text mining. Essay 2 develops a process theory of online competition and tests it using a longitudinal field study in the context of a gamified online analytics community. Essay 3 develops a theory of emotion, cognition, and coordination in the context of a competitive business simulation to examine how these team processes can affect important team outcomes. Overall, this dissertation offers the IS literature foundational theory focused on processes and player experiences through IS in the important interface between work and play.