Habilitation: Prof. Dr Kristina Lemmer - "Digitalisation must be a top priority"

2024-03-04 Kristina Lemmer conducts research at the Institute of Information Systems. The scientist has now been appointed to the Hessian University of Applied Sciences for Public Management and Security in Kassel, where she has taken over the professorship for Administrative Informatics - at only 32 years of age.

Prof. Dr Kristina Lemmer ©Leuphana/Teresa Halbreiter
"I immediately found a new research home at Leuphana and the Institute of Information Systems."

"German administrations are open to digitalisation. Many want digital progress - yet somehow, we don't always get it right," says Prof Dr Kristina Lemmer. During her dissertation at the University of Siegen, she was already working on digitalisation strategies in administration. "We created an action guide to make it easier to organise digitalisation," reports the researcher.

As a project coordinator at the University of Siegen's research programme "Shaping a human future", she had the opportunity to advance digitalisation strategies as part of the "Joint Digitalisation Initiative Siegen-Wittgenstein". This was the first Europe-wide endeavour in which a district joined forces with all of its towns and municipalities to formulate a digitalisation strategy. She was also responsible for conducting the preliminary study for the digital model regions in NRW, "Digitalisation strategies for municipalities". The research results were incorporated into her doctorate.

"When I took over the position of Chief Digital Officer at the district of Lüneburg over two years ago, I contacted Leuphana about a possible collaboration. Prof Dr Paul Drews wrote back within a few minutes. I immediately found a new research home at Leuphana and the Institute of Information Systems," recalls Kristina Lemmer. She pushed ahead with digitalisation in the district, particularly in the health department, and also used her action guide to do so. However, despite the scientifically sound results, the reaction in practice was subdued: "I was told in the administrations: 'Yes, your action recommendations are good and also help us to develop a strategy. But implementation is still not working'," reports Kristina Lemmer.

The scientist's attention was caught: "I wanted to understand the causes. What happens in the process that we as scientists can't see?" Kristina Lemmer is now working on developing a theory that explains the discrepancy between recommended action and implementation: the digital transformation mindset. "Change begins in the mind. Without an overarching strategy and the corresponding competences, nothing is possible. Digitalisation must be a top priority," explains Kristina Lemmer.

The new research results are to become part of her habilitation thesis. Kristina Lemmer has been appointed Professor of Administrative Informatics for the winter semester 2023/24, but will remain associated with the Institute of Information Systems and would also like to complete her habilitation there.

She is currently completing a scientific journalistic study on contact tracing during the coronavirus pandemic together with Prof Dr Paul Drews, Professor of Information Systems. "It is particularly important to me not only to publish research findings in high-ranking journals, but also to present them in a way that the general public can understand," explains Kristina Lemmer.

She is particularly grateful to Prof Dr Paul Drews and her doctoral advisor Prof Dr Dr Björn Niehaves for their support during the application phase for her professorship: "At 31 years of age at the time, I thought I was still too young to apply. But they encouraged me: 'Throw your hat in the ring!' They both believed in me more than I did myself during that time."

Prof Dr Kristina Lemmer completed her doctorate on digital transformation strategies after completing her master's degree in Controlling and Risk Management at Colorado State University (USA) and the University of Georgia (USA). Kristina Lemmer coordinated the research project "Digitalisation Strategies for Municipalities" on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and provided scientific support for the "Digital Model Regions of North Rhine-Westphalia". Most recently, she worked as Chief Digital Officer at the district of Lüneburg, where she collaborated with Prof. Dr Paul Drews from the Institute of Information Systems at Leuphana University. In autumn 2023, she was a guest researcher at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. In the winter semester 2023/24, she was appointed to the Hessian University of Applied Sciences for Public Management and Security in Kassel and holds the professorship for Administrative Informatics. Kristina Lemmer also remains an affiliated post-doc and lecturer at the Chair of Information Systems at Leuphana.