Map Check

post by Vincent Bryce (2019 cohort)

This summer saw me walking St Cuthbert’s Way, a 100km hiking trail in the Scottish Borders/Northumbria area with my children. It was a great trip, plenty of challenge but achievable, and I’d recommend it:

The trail was well signed, but needed us to use our map and compass in places. It’s three years since I started the PhD, two of which were part-time, and it feels like a good time to check where I am and where I’m going:

Where am I

I’m starting the third year of a part-time PhD in the Horizon CDT, focussing on responsible research and innovation (RRI) and Human Resource information systems. This is about exploring how organisations can innovate responsibly with digital technologies, the challenges this involves, and some of the specific issues for HR technologies.

I’ve chosen a Thesis by concurrent publications route => a set of related studies rather than one overarching thesis.

Where am I going

I am going to complete my PhD and plan to come back into full time HR work, applying the insights into my digital HR work. The experience of being a student and researcher at the University I work will help me keep a strong customer focus.

What have I done so far

Following a year of taught activity about a range of digital economy and computer science topics, I’ve completed a series of studies and articles.

Highlights include a study on published Responsible Innovation case studies exploring the benefits of RRI, pieces on HR analytics and their ethical implications, presenting at the Ethicomp, CIPD Applied Research, and Philosophy of Management conferences, and critical articles on wider challenges for responsible innovation such as low-code technologies and crosscultural aspects.

I’ve seen new ideas and emerging technologies, and built skills in cding, data science, writingm writing to data science, and from bot based blogging, digital watercoolers and AI coaching to augmented and virtual reality tools.

What are my main findings to date

  • Responsible innovation practices are associated with business benefits.
  • Digital technologies, in particular ones users can reconfigure for themselves, pose challenges for responsible innovation methodologies, because these tend to rely on the technology being developed in ways which anticipate and respond to societal needs. End users, rather than scientists and developers, are increasingly able to innovate for themselves.
  • Algorithmic HR technologies give HR new capabilities, but are linked to some ethical concerns and have features which imply a need for responsible innovation and implementation.
  • Interviews with HRIS suppliers have limited opportunities to engage wider stakeholders and anticipate downstream impacts, creating reliance on client organisations to reflect on how they apply the technologies.
  • The knowledge and values of HR practitioners are a critical constraint on responsible algorithmic HR adoption.

What are my priorities for the coming year

Completing my thesis synthesis document; concluding in-progress studies on the increasing scope of employee data collection, and HRIS supplier and practitioner perspectives; and getting in position to submit by Sep 2023.

Right – onwards! I’ve recently attended the Productivity & the Futures of Work GRP conference on Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies in the Workplace to present about my study on the increasing scope of employee data collection and hear about what’s hot and what’s not.

originally posted on Vincent’s blog