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University of Exeter Business School

Professor Mark Thompson

Professor Mark Thompson

Professor in Digital Economy

 +44 (0) 7786 731357



Mark Thompson is a Professor of Digital Economy in INDEX (Initiative for the Digital Economy).  He holds a BA in Human Sciences from University of Oxford, an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS, and a PhD in Information Systems from University of Cambridge.  Mark’s research draws on practice-based theories to investigate the intersection between emerging digital business models, and organisational innovation and transformation.

Mark has published articles in a broad range of journals including Information and Organization, Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Government Information Quarterly, Public Administration, Human Relations, Journal of International Development, and Journal of the Association of Information Systems.

He is acknowledged in the public domain as one of the architects of Digital service redesign within the UK public sector, and blends the roles of academic, practitioner, and policy commentator. He has chaired several of the large annual conferences on Digital in the UK public sector including the annual National Digital Conference, and contributes to Computer Weekly and a range of other practitioner publications.

Mark combines his University role with other roles as Board Member of TechUK, and Strategy Director for Methods, Methods Analytics, and Core Azure.  He has held previous roles as Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at Cambridge Judge Business School, and Change Management Consultant at Accenture.

Nationality: British

Part of Initiative in the Digital Economy at Exeter (INDEX)


Bsc, Msc, PhD


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Research interests

  • Digital transformation of government and public services
  • Applying practice-based theories to understand technology and organisational innovation and transformation

Mark’s current research centres on how organisations respond to the challenges presented by the complexity and velocity of the Digital economy. Current topics include platforms and modular organisational design; ‘government as a platform’ public services; use of mapping techniques in Digital service design; and the role of affect in technology adoption and institutional translation.

Previously, Mark has published research on a range of Information Systems topics including the internet and the technology industry, communities of practice, knowledge management, practice theory and affect, and ICT4D.

Research projects

Current research activity includes:

  • Organisations’ discursive configuration work in shaping heterogenous Digital capabilities (internet-based software, architecture, etc) together with organising visions to ensure successful platform-based organisational deployment
  • Researching the concept of ‘situational awareness’, and associated methodologies, for designing new services and enabling value chains in the digital economy
  • Investigating the role of affect in technology adoption and translation of best practices from one institution to another

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Brown A, Fishenden J, Thompson M (2014). Digitizing Government., Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Journal articles

Thompson M (In Press). Affective Politics and Technology Buy-in: a Framework of Social, Political and Fantasmatic Logics. Journal of the Association of Information Systems
Thompson M, Venters W (In Press). Platform, or technology project? a spectrum of six strategic ‘plays’ from UK government IT initiatives and their implications for policy. Government Information Quarterly: an international journal of information technology management, policies, and practices
Thompson M, Faik I, Walsham G (2019). Designing for ICT-Enabled Openness in Bureaucratic Organizations: Problematizing, Shifting and Augmenting Boundary Work. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 20 Abstract.
Brown A, Fishenden J, Thompson M, Venters W (2017). Appraising the impact and role of platform models and Government as a Platform (GaaP) in UK Government public service reform: Towards a Platform Assessment Framework (PAF). Government Information Quarterly, 34(2), 167-182. Abstract.
Thompson M, Komoporozos-Athanasiou A, Fotaki M (2017). Performing accountability in health research: a socio-spatial framework. Human Relations, 71(9), 1264-1287.
Thompson M, Willmott H (2016). The social potency of affect: Identification and power in the immanent structuring of practice. HUMAN RELATIONS, 69(2), 483-506.  Author URL.
thompson M, Komporozos-Athanasiou A (2015). The role of emotion in enabling and conditioning public deliberation outcomes: a macro-level analysis. Public Administration, 93(4), 1138-1151.
thompson M (2014). Similarity and Difference: the shared ontology and diverse epistemologies of practice theory. A review of. Davide Nicolini (2012) Practice Theory, Work & Organization: an Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (PB, pp. 320, US$40.50, ISBN 978-0199231591). Ephemera
Fishenden J, Thompson M (2013). Digital government, open architecture, and innovation: Why public sector it will never be the same again. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 23(4), 977-1004. Abstract.
Thompson M (2012). People, practice, and technology: Restoring Giddens' broader philosophy to the study of information systems. INFORMATION AND ORGANIZATION, 22(3), 188-207.  Author URL.
Thompson M, Walsham G (2010). ICT Research in Africa: Need for a Strategic Developmental Focus. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR DEVELOPMENT, 16(2), 112-127.  Author URL.
Thompson M (2008). Ict and development studies: Towards development 2.0. Journal of International Development, 20, 821-835.
Thompson M (2005). Structural and epistemic parameters in communities of practice. ORGANIZATION SCIENCE, 16(2), 151-164.  Author URL.
Thompson M (2004). Discourse, ‘Development’ & the ‘Digital Divide’: ICT & the World Bank. Review of African Political Economy, 31, 103-123.
Thompson MPA, Walsham G (2004). Placing knowledge management in context. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT STUDIES, 41(5), 725-747.  Author URL.
Thompson MPA (2004). Some proposals for strengthening organizational activity theory. ORGANIZATION, 11(5), 579-602.  Author URL.
Thompson MPA (2002). Cultivating meaning: interpretive fine-tuning of a South African health information system. Information and Organization, 12, 183-211.


Günther Arianne W, Thompson M, Mayur, P J, Polykarpou S (2023). Algorithms as Co-Researchers: Exploring Meaning and Bias in Qualitative Research. In Simeonova B, Galliers RD (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Qualitative Digital Research, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 211-228. Abstract.
Komporozos-Athanasiou A, Thompson M (2015). The Social Spaces of Accountability in Hybridized Healthcare Organizations. In  (Ed) Managing Change, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 206-221.
thompson M, Holgeid K (2013). A reflection on why large projects fail. In  (Ed) The governance of large-scale projects: linking citizens and the state, Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 219-244.


Thompson M (In Press). "Next steps for public cloud? (Plenary talk)". Govnet Next Steps for Government ICT Conference, January 2013.
Thompson M (2023). Public Sector Innovation Conference 2023 Chair's Summary. Digital Leaders Public Sector Innovation Conference 2023. 14th - 14th Mar 2023.
Thompson M (2019). "The death of the vertical! What transforming really means.". Transformation through Technology Conference, 24 May 2012, the Barbican, London, UK.
Pujadas R, Thompson M, Venters W, Wardley S (2019). Building situational awareness in the age of service ecosystems. 27th European Conference on Information Systems: Information Systems for a Sharing Society. 8th - 14th Jun 2019. Abstract.
Thompson M (2019). Chair's opening remarks. 13th Annual National Digital Conference.
Thompson M, Holgeid K, Stray V, Krogstie J (2018). Strategizing for Successful IT Projects in the Digital Era. International Research Workshop on IT Project Management 2018, Association for Information Systems AIS. Abstract.
Thompson M (2017). Chair's opening remarks. 12th Annual National Digital Conference.
Thompson M (2016). Chair's opening remarks. ND16: Building the Nation's Digital DNA.
Thompson M (2015). Digital: Chair's opening remarks. 10th annual National Digital Conference (ND15).
Thompson M (2014). "Digital and the forthcoming election.". How Technology can Reinvent Government, Policy Exchange Media Roundtable, 4 April 2014, London, UK.
Thompson M (2014). "Embracing platforms (Chair and opening remarks).". Govnet Government ICT 2014 Conference, 14 January 2014, QEII Conference Centre, London, England.
Thompson M (2014). "Preparing for political change.". SOCITM Spring Conference, 9 April 2014, the Barbican, London, UK.
Thompson M, Komporozos-Athanasiou A (2014). A performative framework for measuring accountability in healthcare organizations. Biennial International Conference in Organisational Behaviour in Health Care (9th), 23-25 April 2014. 23rd - 23rd Apr 2014.
Thompson M, Komporozos-Athanasiou A (2014). Using affect theory to conceptualise emotion in patient and public involvement. EGOS (European Group for Organizational Studies), 30th EGOS Colloquium, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, July 3–5, 2014. 3rd - 5th Jul 2014.
Thompson M (2013). "Developing digital capacity (Chair and opening/closing remarks).". Digital Leaders' Conference, 3-4 December 2013, Microsoft UK, London, England.
Thompson M (2013). "Digital government and platform.". Digital Panel, Conservative Party Conference, 29 September 2013, Manchester, UK.
Thompson M (2013). "Digital government and platforms.". Digital Panel, Labour Party Conference, 23 September 2013, Brighton, UK.
Thompson M (2013). "Going digital (Chair and opening/closing remarks).". National Digital Conference, 11-12 June 2013, Congress Centre, London, England.
Thompson M (2013). "Public ICT for the future (Chair and opening remarks).". Govnet Government Technology 2.0 Conference, 25 September 2013, QEII Conference Centre, London, England.
Thompson M (2013). "The death of the vertical: government's new IT strategy (Keynote).". Transforming the Public Sector and Focusing on Growth: E-government Conference (Boussias Conferences), 16 May 2013, Athens, Greece.
Thompson M (2012). "Digital government, open architecture, and innovation: why nothing can be the same again." In. the Charity and Finance Directors Association (CFDG) Annual IT Conference. Royal College of Surgeons, London, UK.
Thompson M (2012). "The death of the vertical! Grasping cloud's implications for the public sector.". Govnet Next Steps for Government ICT Conference, 13 September 2012, QE11 Conference Centre, London, UK.
Thompson M (2012). Doing business with SMEs. HM Government Public Procurement Briefing 2012: Driving a Culture of Innovation and Enterprise with SMEs.
Thompson M (2012). Keynote panel discussion with Lord Freud, Paula Venellis (Chief Executive of the Post Office) and Lord Erroll on public sector organisational reform.". Go On: ND2012, National Digital Conference (7th), 30-31 May 2012, Old Billingsgate, London, UK. 30th - 31st May 2012.
Thompson M (2011). "Digital government, open architecture, and innovation: why nothing can be the same again.". SOCITM (Society of Information Technology Management) Conference, 1 December 2011, Birmingham NEC, Birmingham, UK.
Thompson M (2010). Ontological creep within organisation studies: the case of communities of practice. EGOS Colloquium, 26th, 28 June-3 July 2010, Lisbon, Portugal. 28th Jun - 3rd Jul 2010.
Thompson M, Walsham G (2009). Organizational communities of practice: wrong fork in the road?. EGOS. 2nd - 4th Jul 2009.
Thompson M (2009). Where has everyone gone? Re-integrating people into accounts of organizational practice. Cardiff Employment Research Unit (ERU) Annual Conference, 24th, 3-4 September 2009, Cardiff, UK. 3rd - 4th Sep 2009.
Geoff W (2008). ICT Research in Africa: Need for a Strategic Developmental Focus. : IFIP 9.4 Working Conference. 23rd - 24th Feb 2008. Abstract.
Thompson M (2003). ICT, power, and developmental discourse: a critical analysis.  Author URL.
Walsham G, Thompson M (2001). Learning to value the Bardic Tradition: Culture, communication, and organisational knowledge. Global Co-Operation in the New Millennium the 9th European Conference on Information Systems . 27th - 28th Feb 2001. Abstract.


Thompson M (2011). Additional Written Evidence. Government and IT— “a recipe for rip-offs”: time for a new approach. House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee. London, House of Commons.
Thompson M, Maxwell L, Fishenden J, Heath W, Sowler J, Rowlins P, Wardley S (2010). Better for Less: How to make British government IT save money., Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age.  Author URL.

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External Engagement and Impact

Awards and Honours

  • Teaching award, Cambridge Judge Business School, 2014
  • Research Impact award 2016, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Runner-up, Cambridge University Research Impact Awards, 2017 

External positions

Mark has held various advisory and practitioner posts including:

  • 2008-9: Senior Technology Policy Advisor to Shadow Chancellor George Osborne MP
  • 2010-12: IT Futures Advisor, Cabinet Office
  • 2012: External Expert, Public Administration Committee - Twentieth Report: Government and IT - "a recipe for rip-offs": time for a new approach
  • 2014: Named contributor, Labour Digital Review
  • 2014-16: Digital Advisory Panel, National Audit Office
  • 2015-current: Advisory Panel, Digital Leaders
  • 2015-17: Digital and Data Advisory Committee, Cabinet Office
  • 2016-current: Senior Digital Advisor, Scottish Government.
  • 2012-current: Board Member of UK technology trade association TechUK

Mark also holds posts as Strategy Director for Methods, Methods Analytics, and Core Azure.

Invited lectures

Mark is a regularly invited lecturer and speaker. Academic invitations include for:

  • University of Oslo
  • VU University of Amsterdam
  • London School of Economics
  • Warwick Business School
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Paris Dauphine University.

Practitioner keynote invitations include for:

  • Scottish Government, Cabinet Office
  • DWP, MoD, DVLA, DfE, GDS
  • Devon, Essex, Swindon, Ealing, Tewkesbury, Cirencester, Aylesbury Vale, Cheltenham, Bridgend, Cardiff, and Vale of Glamorgan Councils
  • Accenture, Gartner

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Mark’s teaching style is lively and interactive, and often involves learning-based workshops using agile sprint techniques.  Whilst at Cambridge, he developed Cambridge Judge Business School’s popular MBA Digital Business and Advanced Digital Business offerings. He offers a ‘Digital 101’ introduction to the internet and digital economy, and then proceeds to investigate a range of implications for executives that include open standards, modularity, APIs, platform/ecosystem models, investment models, Digital transformation, value chains, technology sourcing, shared service patterns, and Digital service design.

Mark has since developed this material into a suite of Executive Education offerings, which he has delivered to C-suite clients as diverse as Indian, UK, Malaysian, and Israeli Governments, Roche, Pfizer, global banks, insurance companies, and Chinese conglomerates, to name a few, often via interpreters.



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