Sector case studies of four economic sectors, developed in Research Theme 3, will provide intensive investigations of the nature of digital adoption by employers, and how this may transform business models, management practices and employees’ experiences of work.

The sectors include early and later digital adopters, facing high and low risks of job displacement and the restructuring of work:

  • Creative Industries
  • Consumer Services (Retail)
  • Business Services (Finance and Legal)
  • Public Services (Education, Health and Public Employment Services).

These case studies will focus on both changing management practice and workers’ experiences of digital transformation.

Related work

Consumer Services

Digital Entrepreneurship on Retail Platforms: A way to formalise employment for young people in the UK and Africa

This Innovation Fund project explores whether digital platforms enabling the sale of second-hand clothes can offer a new route into formal work for young people.

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What happened to the revolutionary retail model of unmanned supermarkets introduced by Chinese tech giant Alibaba?

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How will investment in technologies such as robotics, tracking technologies and Artificial Intelligence affect employment in the retail sector?

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14 December 2021

Some online marketplaces emphasise environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices but does this translate into material differences in the nature of work?

Digit Debates: Technology & Transformations in US Retail

5 May 2021

Professor Chris Tilly and Professor Chris Benner consider the broader workplace implications of the growth of e-commerce, particularly the recent grocery and meal e-commerce surge.

Digit researchers author new policy studies on jobs in quick commerce

30 March 2023

Digit researchers have produced two new policy studies exploring work in the emerging quick commerce sector.  The studies were commissioned by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and Uni Europa.

Digit researchers present at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting

5 September 2022

They participated in a special session discussing ‘The Future of Retail Work: Power and Voice after the E-commerce Revolution and the Pandemic’.

Digit researchers present findings at CIPD conference

27 January 2022

Digit Research Fellow Dr Wil Hunt discussed research exploring the use of AI-assisted technology in the hiring system of a large retail firm.

Business Services

Robots at the Gates? Robotic Process Automation, Skills, and Institutions: The Case of Financial Services in the UK and Germany

This Innovation Fund project investigates the impact of robotic process automation technology on workers’ employment and skills in knowledge-intensive services, such as financial services.

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

Exploring Inequalities in Platform-Based Legal Work

Howcroft, D., Mumford, C., Bergvall-Kåreborn, B. (2020) Chapter 5 in Experiencing the New World of Work, Cambridge University Press

Does AI chatbot make a good colleague at work?

28 June 2022

Much of the focus on AI technology in the workplace has centred on whether it is replacing humans or not—but what happens when employees are asked to work alongside AI-based systems?

Public Services

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This Innovation Fund project explores how the UK and Australia are embracing digital employment service delivery.

Welfare at a (Social) Distance

This related research project explores the functioning of the benefits system during Covid-19. Funded by ESRC as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

Mapping our digital ecosystem can help policymakers drive digital transformation

6 March 2023

How can public sector organisations ensure digital transformation is good transformation? Rachel Verdin on why we need to start by understanding the UK's digital welfare ecosystem.

Initial research findings presented: Digitalisation of Employment Services

14 June 2021

Associate Professor Jo Ingold presented initial findings from the UK phase of the Digitalisation of Employment Services research at the National Employment Services Conference in Canberra on 9th June.

Dr. Jo Ingold gave evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee

4 November 2020

Today Digit’s Dr. Jo Ingold gave evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee for their Inquiry: DWP’s preparations for Changes in the World of Work which covered digital issues.

Cultural and Creative Industries

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This Innovation Fund project investigates the employment opportunities that subscription crowdfunding provides to creators and how funds are generated and distributed.

Creative work – A “hotspot” for digital skills? Identifying digital skill developments in the UK creative online freelance industry

This Innovation Fund project develops a model for skill evaluation that attaches a premium to a skill based on near real-time online labour market data.

How Cultural Workers Negotiate Racism in the Digital Age

This Innovation Fund project explores the experiences of Black, Asian and other racialised people working in a range of roles and environments across the sector.

Music Creators’ Earnings in the Streaming Era

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Digit Debates: The digital lives of black women in Britain: Between creativity, community and commodification

11 November 2020

Dr Francesca Sobande explores the tensions between digital culture’s communal, counter-cultural, and commercial qualities, focusing on how these matters are shaped by intersecting anti-blackness, sexism, and other forms of entangled oppression. 

Digit Debates: Is music streaming bad for musicians? Problems of evidence and argument

4 November 2020

Professor David Hesmondhalgh considers the claim that that music streaming has made it harder than before for musicians to make a living from music.