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Data, Organisations and Society

Data, Organisations and Society is a research cluster within the Centre for Business in Society.

Focus of our research

The exponential increase in data availability in the last decade has led to a digital universe that doubles every two years. Data and data analytics have become the foundations of disruptive change in a networked business environment. Every aspect of society, from the workplace to the marketplace, to the way people live, communicate and learn, is being transformed by the acquisition and analysis of data and their transformation into actionable insight.

However, there are also challenges embedded in the processes of data-driven decision making. The implications of big data’s size and relevance, where it comes from, and the timeliness of data collection and analysis processes, are only beginning to be understood. Organisations must move quickly to understand those processes and adapt. Citizens need to play a more active role in the process of sharing their data, so they have a clearer appreciation of the privacy implications and are better able to benefit from the results. The ability of the public sector, government bodies, community organisations and the popular news media to balance the advantages and disadvantages of data collection, analysis and the resulting decision making, also needs to be developed.

As the growth and potential of big data continue to explode, so does the need for a better understanding of the opportunities this provides. Deeper insight into big data’s impact in areas such as marketing, strategy and innovation across a range of sectors is needed, as well as the business, ethical, social, privacy and security challenges it poses. The Data, Organisations and Society cluster adopts a cross-disciplinary approach to research, examining this explosion of data and its implications for organisations and society. The aim is to contribute to knowledge through theoretically rigorous and practically relevant research, and to help shape policy and practice in relation to data, organisations and society.

Through its members, the cluster contributes to the activity of prestigious academic and professional networks, including the British Academy of Management, Policy Connect (a cross-party think tank that collaborates with Government and Parliament), Britain’s Most Admired Companies, the Association for Information Science and Technology, the Future Aluminium Forum and the Warwickshire Cyber Safe Group. The cluster’s recent collaborations have informed the digital transformation strategies of large private organisations, including Network Rail and Fujitsu; and public service institutions, such as local government authorities, and made policy recommendations for new data-driven business models to the European Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport.

With a combination of business and technology skills, the cluster’s team undertakes theoretically rigorous and practically relevant research, contributing to knowledge and helping to shape policy and practice in relation to data, organisations and society. The cluster’s work covers the key themes of Data and Strategy, Data and the Digital Economy, and Data and Society.

Core cluster themes

  • Data and strategy
  • Data and the digital economy
  • Data and society

Key researchers

The cluster is led by Professor Maureen Meadows and Professor Sally Dibb. As well as a vibrant community of research staff and PhD Candidates, the cluster benefits from the expertise and knowledge of visiting professors and researchers.

Professor Maureen Meadows

Professor of Strategy

Maureen is Professor of Strategic Management in the Centre for Business in Society. Maureen spent ten years at the Open University Business School, including five years as Head of Department for Strategy and Marketing and leader of the MBA module in strategic management. She was previously at Warwick Business School for thirteen years, where she directed the MSc in Management Science and Operational Research for five years. Formerly Chair of the Special Interest Group in Strategy at the British Academy of Management (BAM), Maureen is now a member of BAM Council.

With a background in mathematics, statistics and operational research, Maureen has over 20 years’ experience of working with customer data and analytics, both as a practitioner in the financial services sector and an academic. She has published on the progress and problems experienced by organisations working on strategic projects such as market segmentation, relationship marketing and customer relationship management. She was a co-investigator on the Leverhulme-funded Project ‘Taking Liberties?’ concerning public/private blurring in the surveillance society, and she is currently a co-investigator on an EPSRC-funded project ‘Monetize Me? Privacy and the Quantified Self in the Digital Economy’.

Professor Sally Dibb 

Professor of Marketing and Society

Sally is Professor of Marketing and Society in CBiS. Previously she was Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at the Open University (ISM-Open) and, before that, Associate Dean at Warwick Business School. She served on the REF 2014 panel for Business and Management, and is now on REF2021’s panel. Sally’s research focuses on consumer behaviour change, market segmentation and social marketing, with recent projects funded by the ESRC, Leverhulme, FP7, Santander and InnovateUK. Sally is Chair of the Academy of Marketing’s Segmentation and Targeting Strategy SIG and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

She has authored twelve books and over 100 articles in European and US academic journals, and has successfully supervised 16 PhD students to completion. Sally’s research is inter-disciplinary, embracing technology, innovation and data science, with projects currently examining sustainable living, smart cities, privacy and security, as well as the application of ‘big data’. She is a member of the peer review college for the ESRC, Horizon 2020, the Australian Research Council and the Canadian Research Council. Sally is a trustee and board member of the charity Alcohol Research UK, and was appointed by the Secretary of State for Health as a trustee of the Alcohol Education Research Council.

Visiting Professor Alexeis Garcia-Perez

Professor of Digital Business and Society

Alexeis is Professor of Digital Business and Society at Aston Business School, Aston University. He is a former full-time member of the CBiS team, where he co-led the Data, Organisations and Society cluster in collaboration with Sally Dibb and Maureen Meadows until 2023.

Alexeis’s original background in Computer Science was complemented by a PhD in Information Systems from Cranfield University. This socio-technical understanding of information technologies and information systems has enabled a focus on the wider relationship between people and technology, with particular emphasis on data-driven innovation, technology adoption and digital resilience.  His research has been funded by national and international bodies including Horizon Europe, EPSRC, the Railway Safety and Standards Board, and Network Rail.

Alexeis is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and member of the executive committee of the International Association for Knowledge Management. He has also been Visiting Research Scholar at the Department of Communication, Culture & Technology of Georgetown University since 2017.

Visiting Professor Stan Maklan

Professor of Marketing and Technology

Stan began his professional career with Unilever Canada, subsequently moving with that firm to the UK and Sweden, where he was Marketing Director of its Toiletries business. He then spent 10 years as a management consultant (customer relationship management and online marketing) with global leaders in information technology: Computer Sciences Corporation and Sapient. He established CSC UK’s Customer Relationship Management practice and then moved to a role within its European Consultingand global management research unit (Research Services).

Stan became Visiting Professor of Coventry in 2017. He co-authored a best-selling management book entitled Competing on Value about corporate brand development, and a case-history based book about customer relationship management. He was awarded honours for academic excellence on the MBA from the University of Western Ontario – now Ivey School of Management and hasa Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Université de Montréal.

Visiting Professor Kirstie Ball

Professor of Management

Kirstie Ball is Professor in Management at the School of Management, University of St Andrews. She is co-director and founder of CRISP, the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy ( CRISP is a joint research centre between the Universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Stirling. Kirstie also co-founded the journal Surveillance and Society and the charitable company Surveillance Studies Network, an educational charity which supports the journal.

Kirstie’s research has been funded by the ESRC, EPSRC, SSHRC (Canada), The Leverhulme Trust, The British Academy and the European Framework Programme.

In 2015 she published The Private Security State? Surveillance, Consumer Data and the War on Terror, the first empirical study from an organisational perspective of private sector involvement in government surveillance regimes. She is co-editor of a new Routledge book series Routledge Studies in Surveillance and edited The Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies. Kirstie has consulted to the UK’s Information Commissioner, authoring A Report on the Surveillance Society, which prompted two parliamentary committee enquiries. She has also advised numerous NGOs, research funding bodies and news media organisations about surveillance, privacy and security.

Visiting Professor Ross Gordon

Professor of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations

Ross is a Professor at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. His work focuses on social issues and social change, through a critical, reflexive and multi-perspective lens. His expertise lies in social marketing, consumer cultures, and critical marketing teaching and research. He works across various social change topic areas including energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, alcohol marketing, gambling, tobacco control, mental health, and workplace bullying.

Ross uses interdisciplinary and multi-method approaches to his work, using methodologies including longitudinal quantitative surveys, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, focus groups, depth interviews, ethnography including visual methods, content analysis, and cognitive neuroscience. He has been a principal or named investigator on projects attracting over $7.1m in research funds in Australia, UK, Europe and India. He has acted an expert advisor to the Australian Government, the UK and Scottish Governments, the European Commission, WHO, Energy Consumers Australia, NSW Health, and a range of other stakeholders on various topics relating to social change.

PhD opportunities

The Data, Organisations and Society Cluster encourages applications from prospective doctoral students.  We are working to lead research on the impact of the digital environment on business and society. Challenges and opportunities related to the use of Big Data, digital and analytics as a driver of innovation, business strategy development and new business models. Issues such as privacy, trust and data protection, related to the creation, use, management and disposal of data in society are also essential. 

We welcome PhD application that focus on the following themes:

  • Data and Strategy: Projects that focus on the use of big data, digital and analytics as a driver of innovation, business strategy development and new business models.
  • Data and the Digital Economy: Projects that consider the uses of personal data in the digital economy and its implications and challenges for organisations. Particular areas of interest include: (1) the use of big data in fields such as marketing (e.g. behaviour change, market segmentation and social marketing), sustainability and strategy; and (2) privacy issues emerging from the routine collection and storage of personal data by businesses.
  • Data and Society: Projects that address the challenges around data, including privacy and trust, from the perspective of the individual and society.  Proposals that highlight the importance of cyber security management are of interest, but these should focus on the managerial and societal impact of data rather than on the technical aspects.

Self-funding or corporately sponsored PhD applications are always welcome. Some fees-only bursaries and full studentships might be available on a competitive basis.

For all enquiries in the first instance, please contact Professor Maureen Meadows or Professor Sally Dibb.

Researchers sat in the communal space in the Jaguar building

Data, Organisations and Society

Hear more from the researchers within this cluster.

As digital transformation accelerates, our research examines how we can maximise the potential for organisations, while protecting the interests of all in society.

Professor Sally Dibb, Cluster Co-Lead
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