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1992 …2024

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Personal profile

Professional Information

Carsten Østerlund is an associate professor at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University. I received my Ph.D. from MIT's Sloan School of Management (2003) and a M.A. in social psychology and social anthropology from University of Aarhus and University of Copenhagen, Denmark. During my MA studies I spent two years as a Fulbright scholar at UC Berkeley, Department of Social and Cultural Studies. Subsequently, I worked in the Work Practice and Technology Group at Xerox PARC.

My larger areas of interest include distributed & virtual work, organizational learning and knowledge, communication practices, and medical informatics. My research explores the organizational implications of information systems. More specifically, I study the organization, creation, and use of documents in distributed work environments where peoples daily practices are characterized by high mobility. Empirically, I approach these issues through in-depth qualitative and quantitative studies of everyday work practices in organizations including among others: Healtcare, eScience, free/libre/open source software development, game design, sales, citizen science.

As modern organizations have become more global and distributed, organizational life is increasingly dependent on those who are distant in time and space. How to incorporate the concerns and contributions of absent others is an important consideration for organizational members. The organization, creation, and use of information systems serve as one strategy to capture and stand for the interests and work of others. My current research focuses on the practices that go into documenting work - which I refer to as documenting practices. This includes the activity of capturing knowledge in any media whether paper based, electronic or wall mounted. Studies of tangible documenting practices allow me to articulate the temporal and spatial dimensions of distributed and mobile work in organizational settings. In short, my research explores the question: how do people use documents to manage their movements and interactions in time and space?

Research Interests

New forms of work associated with information and communication technology.

My research program focuses on the organization, creation, and use of documents and other sociomaterial practices in distributed work environments, with an emphasis on learning and knowledge dynamics in new forms of work. Empirically I study these issues through in-depth qualitative studies of everyday work practices in a range of settings including citizen science, crowdsourcing, distributed science teams, and healthcare. Recently, I have been particularly interested in how we can merge qualitative and quantitative methodologies to study trace data.


Management/Organization Studies, Ph.D., Documenting Dreams: Patient-Centered Records versus Practice-Centered Records, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Social Psychology & Anthropology, M.A.


Psychology, B.A., University of Copenhagen


External positions

Visiting Scholar, Technology in Practice, IT University of Copenhagen


Visiting Scholar, Institute of Organization, Copenhagen Business School


Adjunct Professor, Pediatrics (Courtesy Appointment), SUNY Upstate Medical University

2003 → …

Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen


Research Assistant, Center for Innovation and Product Development, MIT


Research Assistant, Center for Organizational Learning, MIT


Researcher, System and Practices Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center



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