The Cambridge Analytica episode shows the responsibility challenges posed by data analytics and smart information systems, and the potential impact of their misuse including misappropriation of personal data, loss of trust in institutions, and reputational and financial damage to businesses.
At the same time, smart information systems offer new opportunities for firms to develop competitive advantage through new capabilities. Emerging technologies such as Hirevue indicate the potential new technologies offer, their implications in terms of personal data processing and operational and strategic human resource management (for example, the competencies required to operate new systems within the framework of employment law), and the extent to which previously-unknown technologies rapidly move into mainstream use with unpredictable consequences.
Responsible Research and Innovation offers a new way to consider issues of responsibility in relation to the management of information systems. The question of whether organisations that innovate responsibly will experience improved results is uncertain, and mirrors long-standing debates in areas such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and diversity management as to whether there is a business, as well as moral and legal case for responsibility, and if so, the conditions in which benefits can be achieved.
Research in this area has the potential to impact beyond the academic sphere – evidence of business benefits of responsible technology management is of interest both to companies, HR and information systems professionals, and to non-governmental organisations seeking to promote responsible use of technology and personal data.
The research question I will tackle, working in close collaboration with the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University is the following:
“What is the relationship between adoption of responsible research and innovation (RRI) practices in industry, project success, and corporate performance (taking into account variables such as company size and sector)?”
I will focus on case studies relating to large technology firms, emerging HR Information Systems technologies, and use of personal (for example employee) data.