DOS was launched as a research theme within the School of Management in January 2017 and became a College Research Centre in May 2018. As we are living in an era when digital technology is rapidly reconfiguring organisations, industries and society, as well as individual’s daily lives, a digital research group was timely to promote this area of research in the School of Business Management and the College at the time. We named it Digital Organisation and Society deliberately to move beyond a narrow focus on business and management, and to encompass broader societal trends and implications such as digital ethics, politics, and social movements.
DOS research centre’s objectives are to
- encourage knowledge sharing and research collaboration in the area of digital organization and society;
- make connections with researchers conducting related research across the College to incorporate additional perspectives and knowledge;
- explore and exploit new creative methodologies in digital research;
- establish a visible hub of expertise and research excellence in this area;
- support individual research projects academically and practically, including to obtain external funding;
- provide a venue for the academic development of PhD students working in this area.
DOS was initiated by Dr. Yingqin Zheng who approached Prof. Gillian Symon to establish the Research Theme as co-convenors, and then as co-directors for the DOS Research Centre. Yingqin is from the discipline of Information Systems and mainly works in ICT for Development, whereas Gillian is an Organisational Studies researcher with a history of interest in technology and work. We set up DOS to be multidisciplinary right from the start. Thus our launch event on 22nd January 2017 included three keynote speakers from different disciplines: Prof. Robin Mansell (Media Studies, LSE), Prof. Andrew Chadwick (PIR, RHUL), and Dr Niran Subramaniam (Accounting, SoBM RHUL). In June 2017, Prof Mark Graham (Economic Geography) from the Oxford Internet Institute gave a keynote on the Gig Economy at our first Research Awayday. In June 2018, the DOS Research Awayday included talks from colleagues from other departments across RHUL: Dr. Olga Goriunova (Media Arts); David Denney (Law), Claude Heath (Information Security Group), Hannah Platts (History), and Chris Watkins (Computing Science).
In March 2019, we celebrated our establishment as a formal RHUL Research Centre through our inaugural Distinguished Speaker Lecture, featuring eminent scholar Prof Judy Wacjman (Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics) speaking on ‘The Digital Architecture of Time Management’.
In 2018-2019, DOS has had a very successful year in terms of research grants awarded to individual members with current grants totalling over £735K (see Research). We also welcomed Distinguished Visitor, Prof Israr Qureshi (Australian National University) to the Centre, and organised two mini-conferences in Bedford Square which attracted leading researchers in both areas: in May 2019, Platform Work in Global Contexts included speakers from the International Labour Organization, Oxford Internet Institute and the Independent Workers of GB Association; in June 2019, Digitisation and Sustainable Development with Prof. Chrisanthi Avgerou (LSE) as keynote, included speakers from Australian National University, LSE, Kings College, Sheffield University, Institute of Development Studies, and University of Cambridge.
Every year DOS operates a seed funding scheme for ECR and PhD students. In the last academic year DOS supported three such projects. Surveillance in the 21st Century, a workshop organised by PhD students Amalina Zakariah (SoM) and Courtney Hagan-Ford (Law), included eminent speakers Prof Deborah Lupton (University of New South Wales), Prof Lizzie Coles-Kemp (ISG, RHUL), Prof Peter Fussey (University of Essex) and Prof Mike Nellis (University of Strathclyde). Dr Mikko Laamanen, received funding for a research project on Digital Activism and Global Platforms, and Adam Badger (PhD student) received funding to produce a community Zine entitled The Invisible Worker which seeks to give voice to gig economy workers. Mikko and Adam are co-organising a Digital Activism workshop on 7th November 2019.
In June 2019, RHUL SoM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Copenhagen Business School. DOS has a specific contact with the organisers of the CBS Digital Transformations Platform (a cross-institution research centre). Our aim with this relationship is to share research information, collaborate in shared research projects and encourage PhD student exchanges. DOS will welcome colleagues and PhD students from CBS on 16 September for a Research Exchange Day, jointly organised by DOS and CHRONOS research centres.
With this exciting event to kick start the new academic year, we look forward to another stimulating and productive year for DOS 2019-2020!