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

Q-commerce: the emerging rapid retail sector

Quick-commerce (q-commerce) startups are a growing part of the online grocery market. What does this mean for work in the retail sector?

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.

Bringing Environmental Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags to Market

This related project examines the employment consequences of the development, adoption and implementation of innovative environmentally friendly digital technologies; in this case RFID tags in the retail sector. Funded by ESRC and AMD.

There is a robot doing my job! Am I doomed?

15 September 2022

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

Retail employment and automation: good or bad for jobs?

11 April 2022

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

‘Walsmart’: when AI hits the shop floor

11 January 2022

A new AI-hiring system at Walmart was designed to speed up recruitment and reduce bias, but would hiring managers be willing to put their faith in the AI to choose the right person for the job?

Can digital resale clothing platforms provide a stable income for young people in the UK?

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

Q-commerce: the emerging rapid retail sector

Quick-commerce (q-commerce) startups are a growing part of the online grocery market. What does this mean for work in the retail sector?

Using AI to speed up recruitment in retail

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have greatly expanded the range of tasks that computers can perform, including their application to the hiring process. But how are organisations managing the process of implementation with their workforce?

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.

Rural co-working: New network spaces and new opportunities for a smart countryside

Gary Bosworth, Jason Whalley, Anita Fuzi, Ian Merrell, Polly Chapman and Emma Russell (2023), Journal of Rural Studies

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

Digitalisation of employment services: a comparative case study of the UK and Australia

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

The creator economy: understanding travel content creation as work in the digital age

This research project explores the work of travel content creators and considers whether it represents a new form of precarious work in both the creator economy and the tourism industry.

Crowdwork in the creative industry: the case of subscription crowdfunding

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 digital era

This project seeks to provide objective evidence regarding the degree to which music streaming is providing fair payments to music creators of various kinds.

The dark side of social media influencer work

25 March 2024

Michael Beverland discusses his research into how social media influencers monetise their lifestyles.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of the contemporary popular music scene in India

6 February 2024

Aditya Lal on his research into the changing shape of the Indian recorded music industry in the age of platformisation.

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.