Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a new technology that launches programmable software bots, which can automate routine, rules-based tasks. In recent years it has been introduced in the financial services sector (HSBC, Co-op Bank, Deutsche Bank) as well as organizations in the telecoms, retail, healthcare and other sectors.

This Innovation Fund project examined the nature and process of adoption of new automation technologies. The preliminary findings suggest that while automation is creating mimetic-imitation effects as it diffuses within organisational fields, there is a role that workplace institutions seem to play influencing the process of technology introduction and implementation. These findings have important implications for theorising the convergence effects of new technologies, and suggest that further research is needed to unveil their effects on skills, job boundaries and occupational roles.

Research objectives

  1. What are the characteristics of RPA?
  2. What is the impact of RPA on employees’ skills and their jobs?
  3. How are the business models and ecosystems reconfigured (firm boundaries, inter-organizational forms and firm capabilities)?
  4. How do national/sectoral institutions influence the adjustment process?


  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Case studies

Working paper

Robots at the Gates? Robotic Process Automation, Skills and Institutions in Knowledge-Intensive Business Services

Kornelakis, A., Benassi, C., Grimshaw, D. and Miozzo, M. (2022), Digit Working Paper No. 4


Principal Investigator: Dr Andreas Kornelakis (King’s College London)

Co-Investigators: Chiara Benassi (King’s College London), Damian Grimshaw (King’s College London), Marcela Miozzo (King’s College London), Patridk Briône (Involvement & Participation Association)

Digit member: Dimitra Petrakaki (University of Sussex)