‘If you press this, I’ll pay’: MrBeast, YouTube, and the Mobilisation of the audience commodity in the name of charity Vincent Miller & Eddy Hogg 

Digital Organisation and Society (DOS) research centre upcoming research seminar with Dr Vincent Miller, Reader in Sociology and Cultural Studies in the SSPSSR, University of Kent.

Room: BOILER-0-07-Hybrid (the event will be hybrid and colleagues can join via Teams too)
Date: 20th November 10:30-12pm


Dr Miller is an active researcher, writer, and teacher in the inter-disciplinary areas of digital culture/new media studies, social theory and cultural/social/urban spatial studies. Dr Miller completed his PhD in Sociology at Lancaster University (under John Urry and Bulent Diken) and his BA and MA in Geography at the University of Alberta, Canada.

IoT in Agriculture: Trust Matters

*This is the second in a series of blog posts published as part of the author’s ongoing research.

Cevdet Bulut | PhD Candidate | School of Business Management, Royal Holloway, University of London

The captain’s announcement comes shortly before the take-off of the flight. Etna – Europe’s most active volcano – erupts for 147th time on this afternoon of 21st May 2023, causing a major disruption to air traffic as dozens of flights to Catania airport are affected. “This isn’t a great start to my field trip,” I am thinking to myself as my flight is now being diverted from Catania to Palermo airport.

After having spent most of the night at the Palermo airport, I finally manage to arrive in Niscemi where the case company is based. I am received by Giusielisa Lo Presti, a project manager at Smartisland, who works with local farmers in Sicily to understand their needs and assist in implementation of Daiki, company’s flagship product for smart agriculture. “The volcano is not a curse but a blessing for us,” says Giusielisa, smiling. “Volcanic ash is a kind of fertiliser that is rich in minerals and provides unique conditions for growing orchard and vegetables with a special taste and [purple] colour,” she explains, pulling up some images of purple cauliflower as an example of the vegetables grown by farmers on the slopes of Etna.

Interviewing Maria Luisa Cinquerrui, Founder and CEO

Named after a Japanese word meaning “Light”, Daiki is entirely designed by Maria Luisa Cinquerrui, an engineering graduate and founder of the company. “The idea that I had while I studied at university. I had previously worked on the family farm and I was aware of the problems my father faced with cultivation. Initially, I wanted to help my father, but then I realised that my product could help all farmers,” Maria Luisa reveals how she came up with the idea to start an IoT business.

Founded in 2016, Smartisland provides solutions to local farmers to monitor and support growth of plants. “The business is still developing today, but we have already made a profit,” Maria says, pointing out the challenges of being successful in the male-dominated STEM world. “Prototyping, building the technology, and finding the right people to work with,” she says, were the most difficult aspects when she started the company.

Irrigation was the first use case implemented. “Water scarcity is a problem in Sicily, which is why Maria Luisa created Daiki; she thought that someone needed to do something for the future of this land. It’s an easy concept, but a strong idea that can change the world,” Giusielisa explains. Today, the product can be configured for use in both indoor and outdoor conditions for various use cases from irrigation to monitoring of diseases and pest detection for orchards, vegetables and crops like corn, wheat and maize.

The company’s primary target customers are small and medium-sized farms, most of which are family-run businesses. What about the skills of farmers? “Yeah, maybe the person who owns the farms, but the one who is investing and really managing everything is the son or daughter. So what’s in the reading it’s different from reality,” Gaetana Galesi replies, an international relations manager at Smartisland. They invite me to join the team for a visit to a production facility located in Vittoria, a neighbouring town.

Emilio, a customer of Smartisland explains how to access and manage Daiki

We are welcomed by Emilio, the owner of the facility consisting of eight greenhouses where tomatoes and peppers are produced year-round in a protected environment. He has been one of the first customers of Smartisland. “You can check your farm from a distance,” he says, who been using Daiki to automate irrigation, as well as to monitor and forecast the amount of water and fertiliser to apply. “They typically collect 35% or more yield. And, water saving of 40%. Even, the quality of tomatoes better,” Giovanni Chiolo, COO of Smartisland, explains the impact the Daiki brings.

Giovanni Chiolo explains the process of fertigation

Soon after, Emilio has to leave but we continue our visit without him. “If you noticed, the owner left us alone on his farm, this is because he trusts us. This is a kind of relationship that we have built with him and other customers. So, we are different from multinationals,” says Giusielisa, underlining the importance of trust for their customers.

The Daiki web interface is showing the captured environmental values of the site visited

The company follows a simple yet effective marketing strategy: word-of-mouth. “Farmers promote our product, Daiki, because they find it beneficial that it has helped them. Therefore, they talk to other farmers and promote it to them,” says Gaetana. So-called “Smart Labs” concept developed by the company plays an important role in this strategy. “These are small artificial farms, where you can test Daiki,” she explains. The company runs a number of these facilities, working with elementary and middle schools to spread the word and promote smart agriculture.

Farmers who are willing to start investing in smart agriculture in Italy are financially supported by the government with a voucher program. “The Italian government is an active participant in this ecosystem with many actors, and we are part of a network with a focus on agricultural development. They are helping us to find matching opportunities,” Giusielisa highlights the role of the government.

Leading a small team of seven from humble offices in Niscemi and a niche client base, Maria Luisa sees greater potential. “Revolution is big for agriculture, and the farmers are ready for it. In recent years, they have been more open to digitalisation.”

What is next for Smartisland? “Complete the supply chain,” she says indicating that she wants to tackle the farm-to-fork use case and open international markets for local farmers.

Smartisland team – Gaetana Galesi, Maria Luisa Cinquerrui and Giusielisa Lo Presti


This is a series of blogs curated by PhD candidate Cevdet Bulut, who is investigating the adoption of IoT in agriculture. In this series, the author shares a limited version of his field notes and highlights from multiple case studies in a news story format as part of his current research study. The scope of the case studies is to uncover what factors (socio-economic, cultural, technical, etc.) affect the adoption of IoT and to gain experience from the field that can guide the design of viable IoT-based business models for the sector. A new blog will be published on each case study with the participant’s permission.

Other blogs in this series:

DOS 2023 Impact Event

We are delighted to announce the 2023 DOS impact event. This is the time of the year when we celebrate the impactful research of our DOS members and engage with industry experts and Editors of top journals for new research ideas and potential future collaborations.  

This year’s DOS impact event will be taking place on the 28th (online via Teams) and 29th June (in person at Stewart House, London, Room 2/3). Please find the event poster attached for more details.

On the 28th June, Professor Andrew Burton-Jones, The University of Queensland, EIC of MIS Quarterly will be providing a talk. We will then welcome our first industry speaker John O’Shanahan, Managing Director of LeanBPI to provide a talk, sharing his experience in academic-industry collaborations.

On the 29th June, we will welcome our second industry speaker, Aaron Roberson, Co-founder of CityVue, who will provide a talk on smart technologies for safety. We will then be celebrating the great impactful work of our DOS members Professor G. ‘Hari’ Harindranath, Dr Ling Xiao and Dr. Lucy Gill-Simmen, Dr LakshmiNarasimhan Chari. Finally, to celebrate the end of another successful year for DOS, we will be visiting Frameless for a live digital immersive experience with 42 masterpieces in 4 galleries.

The event will be open to colleagues and academics from other UK-universities.

IoT in Agriculture: Why Technology Is Not Enough for Success

*This is the first in a series of blog posts published as part of the author’s ongoing research.

Cevdet Bulut | PhD Candidate | School of Business Management, Royal Holloway, University of London

In a hilly village of Banoštor, only about a half-hour drive away from Novi Sad, I stand on the top of the hill surrounded by a 70-hectare vineyard, overlooking the waters of the Danube River.

“Soon, in about 15 days, the grapevine will bloom. It is a very smart plant. It usually does not come to maturity because, for example, last week we had very cold weather,” says Nemanja Mišić, an agronomist and research assistant at DunavNET. “I work with end users in the field for hardware installation, but it’s my own wish to be there, because it’s easier for me to understand the whole process,” he says, highlighting the importance of being close to the end users.

On my second day of research trip with the company, I am offered to join Nemanja for a field trip to Fruškogorski Vinogradi, a vineyard situated on the slopes of the Fruška Gora Mountain, the only mountain in Vojvodina region. I was eager to observe the interaction with farmers and talk to them, as well as to see an IoT-enabled weather station in action.

The agroNet web interface is showing the stations visited during the field trip.

Fruškogorski Vinogradi is one of vineyards included in the pilot project funded by the Association of Producers of Grapevine and Wines in Fruška Gora. A total of 17+ weather stations have been installed by DunavNET to cover multiple vineyards, so that every member of the association would have access to agroNET for the shared data and insights.

We decide to leave the car and walk uphill on this beautiful April day. After a ten-minute walk, we arrive at one of two weather stations installed to cover the vineyard. This expensive piece of hardware, costing about 1000 euros, is used by the company to capture temperature, humidity, and precipitation in order to calculate the water deficit and air respiration. “This weather station has been here since the beginning of the project, which is now three and a half years, and has worked fine until today,” Nemanja says, reaffirming its stability and resistance to adverse weather conditions. When it comes to energy consumption, it doesn’t seem to be an issue thanks to the use of solar panels, according to him. “They usually say five to ten years, but it depends on the size of the solar panel attached to the weather station. The bigger panels can last longer because they charge better.”

Nemanja inspects the weather station

agroNET detects a malfunction with this station, which sends abnormal values for temperature measurements. After some inspection and discussion over the phone with colleagues at the office, Nemanja comes to the conclusion that the capacitor is the source of the issue. “It is not the first time that we have had this problem, and it is not the first time that we have been able to solve it with a capacitor. It is not a big job, but it does take time; I mean, you need to come here.” As an active observer, I assisted Nemanja in dismantling it and taking it to the office to be replaced and activated.

Soon after, we are joined by Ivan, the vineyard manager. “This is an old wine region. In this village [Banoštor] every house makes wine,” says Ivan, who lives in a nearby village and has been managing this vineyard for 13 years. At its peak during harvesting season, Ivan manages a team of over fifty employees in addition to other seasonal workers, spending most of his time managing and organising the daily operations.

Ivan uses agroNET to monitor and read reports on daily basis using his mobile. The app he finds “Very easy, with no problem,” and he likes to use it mostly to read information about the expected “amount of rain” for his decision making on when to spray. “In agriculture, it’s very important when you spray your pesticides. Because it’s important that rain doesn’t fall after washing the pesticides away from the leaves, and sometimes it’s very important to know how much rain actually has fallen,” Nemanja elaborates. However, spraying must be managed manually. Ivan touches upon the lack of automation for spraying but does not yet see the use of drones for spraying pesticides as a viable option. “Not enough amount of water drone can handle, because one hectare needs 600 to 1000 litres and the drone cannot carry that much water,” Ivan explains.

Interviewing Ivan, the vineyard manager

Ivan nods and expresses his appreciation of the service he receives but points out one issue due to the terrain conditions of the vineyard. “More complicated weather station necessary for these vineyards. Here, we may need more stations to cover all of this. There is a big difference. This vineyard is different from the down vineyard; the microclimate is different,” he says.

We skip the second and go directly to the third station which is installed to monitor insects. This device, consisting of an insect trap and a camera, sends a picture every day. Ivan checks the agroNET app every morning to track the number of insects and decides when to apply pesticides. He says that it is helping, but only for one type of insect. In vineyards, they have two or three different types, depending on the year.

“Agriculture is really complex, and every year brings something new and different. With globalisation, there are new insects, new diseases, and other big problems…”

A total of three stations for weather and insect monitoring have been provided to Ivan to support him in making data-driven decisions. “This is just a tool to help farmers make decisions on time according to the data. This cannot solve all their problems, but it can help them to better manage,” Nemanja explains. Ivan certainly sees value in the product, but he underlines the associated cost as a barrier, saying, “In Serbia, the biggest problem is paying.”

“The financial part is a barrier, definitely,” says Spasenija Gajinov, a product manager at dunavNET. She expects the government to act and provide subsidies to farmers and thinks that would accelerate the adoption of IoT. But it’s not yet in their agenda, Nemanja says, “For tractors and machinery. Last year, I think it was solar panels or something similar. So, it is likely that it will come to the digital technologist.”

The agroNET web interface is showing an image of insects captured by the station

DunavNET, the case company, was started in 2005 as a software consultancy by Srdjan Krčo, the founder and CEO of the company. After spending several years working in Ireland, he decided to return to Serbia in 2012 to fully engage with his company and to start an IoT business.

Novi Sad, where the company is based today, is the biggest city in the Vojvodina region – the agricultural heart of Serbia. “This whole area here, if you notice from coming from Belgrade airport, very flat apart from that one mountain [Fruška Gora Mountain] that you kind of cross. The primary domain sector was, and today one top three sectors, is agriculture,“ says Srdjan, the grandchild of farmers who himself spent quite a few years in the field.

DunavNET provides IoT-based solutions for many business domains, including agriculture. Today, they offer a number of IoT solutions for many sub-sectors, including livestock, orchard, vegetables, and arable crops, for various use cases such as weather monitoring, irrigation, and pest detection, using one single platform. “From the very beginning, we tried to build a holistic platform, something that would allow farmers to collect all their data into one place, whether it’s a tractor or weather station, and then build modules on top of that, that would give them recommendations, insights on specific operations, so that they can manage everything in one place. That was the approach,” Srdjan says about the company’s product strategy.

Srdjan Krčo, Founder and CEO

Srdjan believes that the IoT and ML/AI have the capability today to generate at least the same, if not better, insights, wisdom, and knowledge in agriculture that his grandparents had.

“Eventually, that is something that’s already done. So, whether it is just IoT, or machine learning, there is now a blurred line between these technologies, but we have in our system today.. If you can record temperature, humidity, precipitation, when the vegetation started etc. then you can predict diseases. And, with the support of these digital technologies, you can do it in a more efficient automatic manner, supporting you in-house or external agronomists and making their decision taking process more efficient.”

IoT is core to the company’s products but complementary to the services provided by the company. Consultancy makes a major part of their daily business. Domain knowledge is the key to success, according to Srdjan. “The good thing about IoT is that it can be applied or is being applied in different sectors. The difficult part is the same, because if you want to create an IoT solution for agriculture, .. you have to know that domain. Having an IoT platform is not sufficient, you have to provide solutions that the end users can avail of straight out of the box.”

Partners play a crucial role in service delivery. The company maintains a network of partners, ranging from hardware providers, system integrators, and telecom operators to local consultants, who can provide “a connection between us and the farmers,” Srdjan says. “We offer complete turnkey solutions, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without partners. It’s much easier if you work with someone for a longer period of time,” he explains. “We created our ecosystem,” Spasenija adds. “agroNET has been created in collaboration with researchers from universities, agronomists, and other agricultural consultants who have been in the business for twenty years,” she says. “People who are part of agricultural production with their knowledge and expertise. We use and digitise their knowledge on our platform.”

What about the technology? “It’s maturing,” Srdjan says. “For many of the scenarios, the technology as it is today is already there and solves the needs of the farmers (e.g., weather stations, various sensors, etc.) Of course, as the technology evolves, the requirements evolve as well – it’s a kind of push-pull process. Soon, we will see much more ML/AI-based solutions in the field, robots, etc.” Petar Knežević, who works as a software architect at DunavNET, confirms the same, adding, “Connectivity, battery and sensors are self-sufficient. In the last ten years I have witnessed the evolution of these devices and batteries.”

Spasenija is presenting the latest sensor technology

Today, the company exports its products and expertise to a number of countries in Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. “We were always among the first ones to do something in the digital agriculture sector in the region,” Srdjan says proudly. Nevertheless, he says the business of agriculture is “yet to become fully profitable.” “It takes time to earn trust of farmers and for the cost of technology to drop to acceptable levels. Anyhow, since COVID, we are seeing an increased pace of traction, and the engagement with farmers more focused on deployment than explanation of what benefits such solution can bring.”

Agriculture is a tough sector which “needs a lot of time and patience” in comparison to other domains such as smart cities, according to Spasenija. The sales cycle is typically quite long, but they think it will shorten in the near future. The company is already seeing some real interest. “It’s only last year and now this year, and there is that we see an increased number of commercial customers,” Srdjan says.

The team is convinced that the trend is upward, and the future is bright for smart agriculture. “I suppose, from year to year, we will have improved solutions, better devices, and more clients,” Spasenija concludes.


This is a series of blogs curated by PhD candidate Cevdet Bulut, who is investigating the adoption of IoT in agriculture. In this series, the author shares a limited version of his field notes and highlights from multiple case studies in a news story format as part of his current research study. The scope of the case studies is to uncover what factors (socio-economic, cultural, technical, etc.) affect the adoption of IoT and to gain experience from the field that can guide the design of viable IoT-based business models for the sector. A new blog will be published on each case study with the participant’s permission.

Other blogs in this series:

person using laptop computer

Social Intermediation – Role of ICTs

Digital Organisation and Society (DOS) research centre upcoming research seminar with Professor Israr Qureshi, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship and ICT for Development at Australian National University, who will be delivering a talk on Social Intermediation – Role of ICTs.

Room: Picture Gallery (the event will be hybrid and colleagues can join via Teams too)
Date: 21st June 3pm-4pm


Israr Qureshi is a Professor at the Research School of Management, Australian National University (ANU). He is the Director of ASCEND (Australian Social Cohesion-Exploring New Directions) Grand Challenge Project. He is a member of ANU Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions and an associate editor at Business & Society and Information Systems Journal. He recently concluded his associate editorship at MIS Quarterly. He was a member (Civil Society Group) and observer (Technical Working Group) on the recently concluded Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative. His research projects focus on social value creation through alternative organizing, drawing from his extensive pro-bono experience of advising social enterprises and ventures. Israr’s work highlights the potential of ICTs for social transformation while emphasizing the need for inclusivity, sustainability, and participatory approaches in ICT4D interventions. He has extensively studied social intermediation and social entrepreneurship initiatives.

group of people watching on laptop

Emotions in the Digitalised Workplace

Niki Panteli, Royal Holloway University of London & NTNU, Norway,

Fay Giaver, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway,

Jostein Engesmo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway,

Emotions, defined as  a transient state constructed on the spot based on bodily sensations, events and situations in the environment (Barrett, 2016) with an inherent action tendency (Frijda, 2007), are functional and critical for individuals for interpreting and navigating their surroundings (Lazarus, 1991). Emotions are seen as highly contextual, triggered, fuelled and shaped by the situation in which individuals find themselves with important implications for the digitalised workplace.

The link between emotions and digitalisation was first recognised by Fineman, Maitlis and Panteli (2007) who called for research to explore how emotions are constructed, modified or supressed within the virtual environment. Our recent literature review on emotions within digitalised workplaces has shown that researchers’ interests in these types of workplaces are varied and diverse. Studies have focused on different aspects of these workplaces, with some giving emphasis on the role of ICTs in the functioning of the workplace, different types of IT professionals and IT-dependent workers such as cybersecurity professionals (D’Arcy et al.2014 ), IT staff (Wang et al. 2020) or gig workers (Pignot, 2021),  the implications of the digitalised workplaces and/or specific IT use on employees’ anxiety and technostress (Elie-Dit-Cosaque et al 2012), feelings of violation (Lin et al, 2018)  and wellbeing (Abelsen, et al, 2021). Collectively, these studies  confirm that digitalised workplaces which constitute of different digital technologies and applications across diverse settings, provide plethora of opportunities to researchers to examine the processes and mechanisms through which these workplaces function, the interactions within them as well as the impact they have on individuals and organisations alike. Despite these, existing literature has remained limited.

Further, the majority of studies adopted a quantitative method, and  emotions have typically  been seen as an antecedent or moderator variable; in some studies emotions emerged as a result of data analysis,  rather than being the driving conceptual lens.

Accordingly, despite the growth of digitalisation, the relevant literature appears to be limited and though digitalised workplaces are broadly defined, there tends to be a narrow perspective taken on emotions. Our Special Issue on ‘Emotions in the Digitalised Workplace’ adds to the limited literature by bringing together research studies covering some of the research gaps that exist in this area. We argue that this topic is vital for developing insights into the impact of digitalisation on employees and other organisational members. Nevertheless, several research opportunities remain and in our editorial we identify specific areas of research that have been omitted and which deserve investigation, with implications for theory and research in the study of emotions and their relation to digitalisation and work. In particular, the new work practices made possible with technology (e.g. hybrid work, remote work, digital meetings etc.) provide autonomy and flexibility, but may also lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness (e.g. Abelsen et al. 2021). It is our position that the study of emotions in the digitalized workplace is a fruitful avenue for research.

For further information, please refer to:

Panteli, N., Giæver, F., & Engesmo, J. (2022). Guest editorial: Emotions in the digitalised workplace. Information Technology & People35(6), 1677-1692.



Abelsen, S. N., Vatne, S. H., Mikalef, P., & Choudrie, J. (2021). Digital working during the COVID-19 pandemic: how task–technology fit improves work performance and lessens feelings of loneliness. Information Technology and People.

Agogo, D., & Hess, T. J. (2018). “How does tech make you feel?” a review and examination of negative affective responses to technology use. European Journal of Information Systems, 27(5), 570–599.

Barrett, L. F. (2016). The theory of constructed emotion: an active inference account of

interoception and categorization. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12(1), 1-23. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw154

D’Arcy, J., Herath, T., & Shoss, M. K. (2014). Understanding Employee Responses to Stressful Information Security Requirements: A Coping Perspective. Journal of Management Information Systems, 31(2), 285–318.

Elie-Dit-Cosaque, C., Pallud, J., & Kalika, M. (2011). The influence of individual, contextual, and social factors on perceived behavioral control of information technology: A field theory approach. In Journal of Management Information Systems (Vol. 28, Issue 3, pp. 201–234).

Fineman, S., Maitlis, S., and Panteli, N. 2007. Virtuality and emotion. Human Relations, 60: 555-560.

Frijda, N. H. (2007). The laws of emotion. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. Oxford University Press.

Lin, T. C., Huang, S. L., & Chiang, S. C. (2018). User resistance to the implementation of information systems: A psychological contract breach perspective. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 19(4), 306–332

Wang, N. (Tina), Carte, T. A., & Bisel, R. S. (2020). Negativity decontaminating: Communication media affordances for emotion regulation strategies. Information and Organization, 30(2).


Niki Panteli is a Professor of Digital Business at Royal Holloway University of London, School of Business and Management and an Adjunct Professor at the Norwegian University of Scienve and Technology. She is currently the co-director of the Digital Organisations and Society (DOS) research centre at the School of Business and Management, Royal Holloway UoL and the President for the UK Academy for Information systems ( She is a Senior Editor for Information Systems Journal and Information Technology & People. Her research has appeared in numerous top-ranked academic journals including Work, Employment and Society, the Journal of the Association of Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, European Journal of Information Systems, Human Relations, Information Technology and People, Decision Support Systems, Communications of the ACM and New Technology, Work and Employment among others.

Fay Giaver is an Associate Professor at NTNU (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology) at the Department of Psychology. She has a PhD in Psychology from NTNU. Her research interests revolve around the role of emotions at work and she has been involved in research projects on organisational change, artistic interventions at work, sickness presence/absence, and work adjustment for employees with mental health issues. Recently she has been particularly interested in how organisations concerned with environmentally responsible business practices and values can be enabled and supported. She is leading the “Greening Organizations” research group: She is currently also involved in a research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council on sustainable meat-use in Norwegian food practices for climate mitigation (MEATigation) focusing particularly on the organisational perspective.

Jostein Engesmo is an Associate professor at NTNU, Department of Computer Science. He has a PhD in organisation change from Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management from the same university. For several years he worked as a management consultant and project manager for various companies. His research interest now is within the topics of digital transformation and adoption of digital solutions. Currently, he is involved in research projects looking at digital leaders in digital transformation, and adoption of AI-based solutions.

Women proposing: Gender equality in wedding rituals 

Vera Hoelscher, Royal Holloway, University of London
Daniela Pirani, University of Liverpool
Ratna Khanijou, Goldsmiths, University of London 

When Carl and Juliet left their wooden cabin to go on a hike of the Norwegian summer scenery, little did Carl know that his girlfriend was about to propose. As they headed through the woodlands to a nearby lake, Juliet kept falling behind. Carl thought that this was odd as her steady step would usually pace their hikes. Juliet, however, was tirelessly searching the forest floor for lichen to fashion into a ring. When the couple finally reached the lake, Juliet’s palms were sweaty and her knees weak. She seized the moment, got down on one knee, and ask him to marry her. Back at the cabin, the freshly engaged couple were buzzing to share the news with their families. Juliet’s mother was astonished that her daughter had asked her future husband for his hand in marriage rather than waited for a more traditional proposal. 

As marketing researchers, we are interested in how wedding rituals are changing in times of broader fights for gender equality. Stories like Juliet’s show how women are now re-shaping wedding rituals, by proposing to their partners. In doing so, they overstep a gendered line which made us wonder: What makes women pop THE question and how are reverse proposal changing wedding rituals? We collected data from social media conversations, forums, and from 22 interviews with women who proposed to understand what does it feel like to conquer one of the last bastions of dominant masculinity. With the help of animation artists Stacy Bias and Clarissa Hanekom, their stories were made into two short films, one about proposal equality and one about whether stealing the thunder creates a storm. Our recent paper published in Gender Work and Organization speaks of how reverse proposals introduce new standards and norms into a highly traditional institution and yet serve it to remain relevant and appear progressive. Further, we discuss the double bind this presents for women who are encouraged by society to formalize their heteronormative relationships through marriage and yet often chastised for initiating this themselves. 

One might wonder about the link between marketing and wedding rituals. Diamond rings have become a common feature of proposals thanks to marketing efforts, and they still dominate popular culture and fantasies around proposals, providing men with a plethora of information on how to choose the perfect ring. However, wedding rituals are changing. On one hand, marriage have become more accessible, with same-sex marriages becoming legal in several countries. On the other, marriage has lost its importance for many heterosexual couples, whose intimate life does not rely on being wedded. Proposals are emblematic of this shift. While the business of proposals is expanding, many jewelleries have catered to male same-sex couples, offering equivalent jewellery such as rainbow diamond rings. However, women wanting to propose find themselves without a script to follow, or a material prop to validate their actions.  

Our findings show that women who propose are overstepping a gendered line. While the majority of our interviewees shared positive experiences, women who propose still run the risk of being labelled as desperate, hopeless and emasculating their partners. Social embarrassment, exclusion, and estrangement for families are some of the backlash faced by women who decide to pop the question. To create new shared imageries, women rely on social media conversations, horizontal support from other women, sharing tips and references to representations of other women proposing in movies and TV series (yes, Monica in Friends). Reverse proposals require a degree of creativity and craftiness, borrowing elements from the more conventional script, such as going down on a knee or asking parents for permission. However, women also reported of how proposals could be occasions to discuss the future rather than surprise their partner, without the need of grand gestures. Proposing women perceived themselves as being equals in relationships characterised by open communication and respect.  

Women proposing are assembling market opportunities and crafting their own scrips, combining more traditional elements with unconventional ones. In doing so, we observe how reverse proposals provide new material to the hetero-romantic script of wedding rituals, rather than overturning them. With women becoming more proactive, the institution of marriage gets a refresh rather than a reboot, as more structural issues on the privileges and inequalities connected to marriage are not considered.  

woman having a video call

How do Remote Workers Perform during COVID-19 Lockdowns?

*This blog is based on our paper published in the Information Technology and People journal.

Dr Xinying Yu | Senior Lecturer | School of Business Management, Royal Holloway, University of London
Prof Yuwen Liu | Professor | Institute of Technology Management, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

With the advancement of technology in recent years, researchers have raised great interests in remote working in the business and management fields. Known also as teleworking, telecommuting, e-working, or flexible work arrangements (Morgan, 2004), remote working is defined as a flexible work arrangement in which employees work remotely from their offices or production facilities, employees have no direct contact with colleagues but can connect with them via technology (Di Martino and Wirth, 1990).

During COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has become a popular work arrangement for organisations. The increasing number of remote workers who interact with colleagues and customers using different technologies has exerted physical and psychological demands. Although technology enables work collaboration through video and teleconferencing via web applications and technologies, lack of social contact and face-to-face communication among employees in the virtual environment has been reported to cause feeling of professional isolation (e.g., Chamakiotis et al., 2013). Professional isolation is a situation when a remote worker experiences the perception of being ignored, which could negatively impact upon their well-being and performance, increase loneliness, reduce job satisfaction and may result in social and emotional distress (Marshall et al., 2007; Mulki and Jaramillo, 2011).

Empirical studies investigated the antecedents and outcomes of remote working have drawn mixed results. Some researchers have claimed that remote working with more flexibility, job autonomy and better work-life balance enhances workers’ wellbeing, job performance, job satisfaction and reduces turnover (e.g., Kelliher and Anderson, 2010; ter Hoeven and van Zoonen, 2015). Others, however, have argued that professional isolation may disproportionately leave remote workers out of the loop in office interactions (e.g., Grant et al., 2013; Vega and Brennan, 2000), consequently causing psychological and physical stress and hindering their job engagement and performance (Collins et al., 2016; Xanthopoulou et al., 2009).

Although the isolated remote working condition can be detrimental for employee’s attitudes and behaviors, how employees respond to this may vary greatly. A number of studies have identified that psychological hardiness protect employees against stress (Bartone, 2000; Hystad, 2011). The way that psychological hardiness is more effective in isolated working situation is because it is proved to influence how employees interact with their environment and promote effective coping for stressful situations with individual effort (Maddi, 2005).

This study used web-based questionnaires to collect data from 497 remote workers in financial industry in China during pandemic lockdowns, and aims to examine how remote workers perform. We conclude that perceived professional isolation among remote workers triggers their cynicism attitudes toward the meaningfulness of the job and the value of the organization, and in turn results in decreased task performance. Results of the moderation role of psychological hardiness in the relationship between professional isolation and task performance through cynicism support the propositions that although cynicism is expected to emerge from worker perceptions of isolated work environment characteristics and social interactions, these perceptions are filtered through the lens of personality, namely psychological hardiness, to affect individual work performance.

This study offers some practical implications for managers. First, to handle employees’ feeling of professional isolation and cynical attitude, the fundamental principle for managers is to help employees stay connected and maintain good interpersonal and work relationships while working remotely to limit their feelings of isolation. Online interpersonal and workplace activities can be promoted to effectively collaborate and communicate remote workers. Employee engagement programs can be introduced via online platforms, weekly news roundups, fun competition events and staff support surveys, etc. Social support networks among employees could reduce their perceptions of isolation and increase their confidence in conducting tasks by working through challenges, addressing problems, and building team cohesion.

Second, managers could consider reducing the impact of cynicism to improve job performance by introducing clear HR policy and practice to balance job demands (e.g., work pressure and emotional demands) on employees with job resources needed to deal with these demands (e.g., supervisory and organizational support). For instance, organizations could provide mental and well-being training to alleviate employees’ emotional and psychological distress caused by remote. Supportive managers could allocate manageable workloads, clarify task expectations, grant flexibility and autonomy, and provide timely and constructive performance feedback. Avoiding micromanagement could convey a sense of trust in remote working environments which might contribute to greater job performance.

Furthermore, given that psychological hardiness could be developed rather than inborn and hardy employees are more likely to cope with stressful and uncertain situations than unhardy ones, managers could design hardiness training programs to improve employees’ resilience and reduce burnout levels induced by cynicism. In addition, managers could cultivate an appropriate organizational culture to foster employee hardiness. Employee engagement programs could be used as a useful mechanism to build a hardy organizational culture. Managers should set up an example to develop their own hardiness and encourage a hardy workplace to respond to crises more effectively. Employees should be made aware that change is inevitable in a crisis, rising to the challenge and increasing their hardiness could help them cope with difficult situations.

Despite the limited data from financial industry in China and only individual level variables are included, we believe that this study adds value to the research on remote working in a crisis situation by examining the impact of professional isolation and cynicism on task performance and suggesting psychological hardiness as an important characteristic for employees to face challenging situation with courage and motivation.


Bartone, P.T. (2000), “Hardiness as a resiliency factor for United States forces in the Gulf War”, In J. M. Violanti, D. Paton, and C. Dunning (Eds.), Posttraumatic stress intervention: Challenges, issues and perspectives, Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, pp. 115–133.

Chamakiotis, P., Dekoninck, E. A., and Panteli, N. (2013), “Factors influencing creativity in virtual design teams: An interplay between technology, teams and individuals”, Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol.22 No.3, pp.265-279.

Collins, A. M., Hislop, D., and Cartwright, S. (2016), “Social support in the workplace between teleworkers, office-based colleagues and supervisors”, New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol.31 No.2, pp.161-175.

Di Martino, V., & Wirth, L. (1990), “Telework: A new way of working and living”, International Labour Review, Vol.129 No.5, pp. 529–554.

Grant, C. A., Wallace, L. M., and Spurgeon, P. C. (2013), “An exploration of the psychological factors affecting remote e-worker’s job effectiveness, well-being and work-life balance”, Employee Relations, Vol.35, pp.527–546.

Hystad, S. W., Eid, J., and Brevik, J. I. (2011), “Effects of psychological hardiness, job demands, and job control on sickness absence: A prospective study”, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol.16 No.3, pp.265-278.

Kelliher, C., and Anderson, D. (2010), “Doing more with less? Flexible working practices and the intensification of work”, Human Relations, Vol.63 No.1, pp.83-106.

Maddi, S. R. (2005), “On hardiness and other pathways to resilience”, American Psychologist, Vol.60, pp.261–262.

Marshall, G. W., Michaels, C. E., and Mulki, J. P. (2007), “Workplace isolation: Exploring the construct and its measurement”, Psychology and Marketing, Vol.24 No.3, pp.195-223.

Morgan, R.E. (2004), “Teleworking: an assessment of the benefits and challenges”, European Business Review, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 344-357.

Mulki, J.P., and Jaramillo, F. (2011), “Workplace isolation: salespeople and supervisors in USA”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 22 No. 04, pp. 902-923

ter Hoeven, C. L., and van Zoonen, W. (2015), “Flexible work designs and employee well-being: examining the effects of resources and demands”, New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol.30 No.3, pp.237-255.

Vega, R. P., Anderson, A. J., and Kaplan, S. A. (2015), “A within-person examination of the effects of telework”, Journal of Business and Psychology, Vol.30 No.2, pp.313-323.

Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2009), “Reciprocal relationships between job resources, personal resources, and work engagement”, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Vol.74 No.3, pp.235-244.

Between Failure and Hope: Experiences of Digital Technologies for Engaging with Health Inequities in the Global South

DOS Research Centre is pleased to invite you to an event with its Distinguished Speaker Professor Sundeep Sahay, Professor of Information Systems, at the Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway

16 November 2022 DOS Distinguished Speaker Lecture

Tea and Coffee from 13:30 Moore Auditorium, Moore Building, Royal Holloway, Egham Campus

Speaker: Prof Sundeep Sahay, University of Oslo, Norway

Engaging with health inequities in the Global South is a key priority, which is inscribed in a number of the SDGs, e.g. SDG3 (health and well-being for all), SDG5 (women’s equality and empowerment) and SDG10 (reduce inequality within and among countries). Digital technologies indeed have a role to play in supporting efforts to mitigate health inequities and contribute towards achieving these goals. But, what has been our experience till date? They oscillate between visions of deep despair with 90% of digital initiatives being branded as total or partial failures or extreme optimism with AI and Machine Learning being positioned as the silver bullet to address health challenges. A summary inference which can be drawn from experiences to date is that the potential of digital technologies to address health inequities has not been adequately materialized in practice, in the context of the Global South. Understanding what are some of the reasons underlying this inference and reflecting on what can be done about it, will be the focus of this talk. Sundeep will draw upon his 20+ years of experience of studying and working with health information systems in the Global South, to raise some relevant questions and seek to find approaches to engage with this urgent issue.


Sundeep Sahay is Professor of Information Systems at the Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway. He currently holds affiliate appointments at the Centre of Sustainable Healthcare Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo and at the Information School, Sheffield University, UK. The focus of his work has been on the design, development, integration, use and sustainability of health information architectures in developing countries, with a primary focus in the Indian public health system. Sundeep has worked closely with policy makers, health programme managers and field level health functionaries. He has extensive experience with management of research projects involving partners from universities, public health sector, and also running an NGO.

close up photo of a digital image

DOS Digital Health Online Event

Professor Niki Panteli, Dr Nisreen Ameen, Dr Najmeh Hafezieh and Dr Philip Wu are pleased to invite you to the DOS Digital Health Online Event, joined by Key Speakers Professor Weizi (Vicky) Li, Henley Business School, and Dr Hajar Mozaffar, University of Edinburgh Business School.

Time: 1 December, 10:00 – 11:30am UK Time (Online via Microsoft Teams)


Developing data-driven solutions in real-world healthcare management
Professor Weizi (Vicky) Li


Data-driven solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can improve health and care efficiency by augmenting human labour and enhancing productivity. This talk will cover a series of collaborative projects with NHS developing real-world data-driven healthcare applications and will focus on data-driven solutions to improve referral triage from primary to secondary care, and to reduce “do-not-attend” in secondary care outpatient management. We will discuss how AI/ML improve healthcare efficiency, patient outcomes and health inequality, challenges, and future opportunities.

Evolution of knowledge ecosystems in digital transformation of the health sector
Dr Hajar Mozaffar


Digital transformation is now central to most health system strategies around the world; although policy makers and implementers generally agree on the potential of health information technology (HIT) to improve safety, quality, and efficiency of care, strategies for procurement, implementation, and optimization vary significantly across settings. Hence, large-scale HIT-enabled transformation programs have met with varying success, and there is no agreed strategy on how best to achieve digital transformation at scale. We propose that organisation-level perspective on digital transformation of the health sector offers limited understanding of the phenomenon and hence partial understanding of how to deliver successful transformation. We suggest that to understand the complex nature of digital transformation, new approaches that consider different levels of analysis are needed. In doing so, we show how inter-organisational knowledge collaborations are a key feature of recent initiatives to promote concerted change across multiple organizations by establishing a knowledge ecosystem.