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Mr Allen Higgins


Allen Higgins

Research Associate
School of Business
01 716 4775
University College Dublin, School of Business, Quinn School of Business Belfield Dublin 4


I started programming on a punch card system at secondary school in 1981 and became more deeply involved with computing as an engineering student at the University of Queensland. I witnessed and participated in the rapid changes then taking place, from programming in C and Pascal, working on mainframe terminals (long nights playing Rogue), the Digital PDP-11 and VAX, through to the first PCs: CPM on an Osborne, the original Macintosh 128K, various IBMs and compatibles running DOS, Windows (1, 2, 3, 3.1 etc) and numerous flavours of Unix/Linux. On moving to industry I gravitated towards the organisational challenges - issues of quality, usability, design, product management and the challenges of managing, organising and scaling software engineering teams. We see challenges related to these themes throughout the history of the software industry, almost independent of the state-of-the-art of technology, although new tech is often designed with the intention of overcoming these very problems. Problems like how to make programming languages and code less buggy, designs more robust, to better harness advances in computer architecture, and the management challenges of how to arrange and manage teams. Design processes are a crucial organisational phenomenon; software designing is a necessarily creative process and yet needs also to be responsive to the involvement of many people: users, other designers and actors at a greater distance. Writing code involves both individualistic and collective learning processes through occasions of design interaction. Typical design interactions tend to be open-ended, fluid, mutually illuminating occasions, yet also tend to be brittle and challenging communicative processes. I see links between these concerns and a simple central idea; that designing is intricately bound up with relationships that matter, both within organisations and beyond. Consequently my experience of design and in organising software designers highlights the importance of attending to the interactive dynamics in play, the social and processual activities surrounding software engineering and the creative magic needed for digital production. I aspire to develop theoretically rich understandings of the happenings and practices of digital use and production. In particular the experience of and phenomena involving action, translations and transformations occurring between/within individuals, groups, technologies, and social or organisational structure. Philosophically I have a concern for the politics of technology and difference - attending to inequality, ethics, values, and culture. I contend that we need to account for these facets in order to more properly interpret, deconstruct, understand, theorise, and eventually introduce and manage change. This implies an acute awareness of power in human and technological agency. An author whose work I find relevant and influential in this field is Claudio Ciborra. Many of Ciborra's contributions (bricolage, gestell, drift, xenia, hospitality etc.) offer new and insightful ways to better understand and theorise digital production and use. I work as a researcher and lecturer in the UCD Centre for Innovation, Technology and Organisation (CITO) and the Management Information Systems subject area in the College of Business at University College Dublin. The UCD CITO research community broadly is concerned with understanding the role played by information, knowledge, technologies, and social and material artefacts in organisational processes. Much of our empirical work is directed towards new styles of digitally mediated organisation, software development, digital production, distributed organisation, and creative production in the digital economy. I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Joe Nandhakumar. My studies focus on processes of collaborative software design, accessed ethnographically. Research interests include inter-organisational network innovation and collaboration; and taking a social/organisational perspective of the development, implementation and maintenance of high tech systems. I hold a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Queensland, Australia, and a Master of Business Studies in Electronic Commerce from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Ireland. Master of Business Studies, University College Dublin, Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business. Thesis investigated "Changing control mechanisms in software development organizations utilizing XP". Student in the inaugural Ecommerce MBS programme at UCD in 1999.Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Computer Engineering), University of Queensland, Brisbane. Thesis on control and navigation of a semi-autonomous mobile robot. "The Hero as Macro-Mouse, Guidance and Navigation". Bachelor of Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane.


  • College Lecturer / Research Associate
    University College Dublin, Centre for Innovation, Technology and Innovation1 Aug 2003


  • Engineering Manager.
    Havok - Telekinesys Research Ltd.1 Apr 2002 - 31 Jul 2003
  • Engineering Manager.
    Sepro Telecom Ltd.4 Dec 2000 - 29 Mar 2002
  • Engineering Manager / Quality Assurance Manager.
    IONA Technologies PLC.2 Dec 1996 - 1 Dec 2000
  • Localization Project Manager / Software Engineer.
    Symantec Ireland Ltd.6 Dec 1993 - 29 Nov 1996
  • Customer Service Manager.
    Apple Centre Harcourt St (Glanmire)5 Jan 1993 - 3 Dec 1993
  • Graphic Design
    Longman Logotron Ltd.29 Jan 1990 - 1 Feb 1991
  • ELT and Translation Services
    Interac KK5 Dec 1988 - 11 Dec 1989


  • BSc
    University of Queensland
  • BE
    University of Queensland
  • MBS
    University College Dublin
  • Prof Dip University Teaching & Learning
    University College Dublin


  • Japanese
    Can read, write, speak and understand