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SMEs digital footprints and their ethical implications

This project focuses on SMEs who have been facing challenges regarding the rapidly increased usage of digital tools (e-mails, cloud, big data), particularly after the COVID-19 outbreak. The aim of this research project is to develop an analytical framework that helps SMEs to better understand their digital footprints and their ethical implications both at organisational and individual levels. The main objectives of this project are: - to explore the main ethical concerns regarding the SMEs' digital footprints, in terms of transparency strategies of organisations and equal opportunities for individuals. - to investigate the processes required to develop organisations understanding of their organisational digital footprints - to better understand the transparency strategy at organisational (employer) and individual (employee) levels in building sustainable and ethical growth in SMEs. 

COVID-19 outbreak has posed a significant shift to the digital world and consequently caused massive challenges to the protection of human rights. Digitalisation of the business environment creates digital footprints that blur the boundaries between individuals and organisations, and creates various risks in terms of transparency, equality, and inclusion.

Previous research has shown that the Covid-19 pandemic necessitates digitalisation by creating circumstances like remote working, which is one of the main sources of digital footprints. A large number of SMEs' executives specified that their prime concern in SMEs is digitalisation strategies. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has created an extensive dependency on the digital world, SMEs have severe challenges for the management of data and digital footprints.

This project is an 18-month action research programme, where data will be gathered to develop insights both at organisational and individual levels to use digital footprints ethically and safely in creating business and social value and support future work scenarios.

Project partners

HR Tech Partnership  and TechMahindra 

Key research investigators
Key research investigators: Ozlem Ayaz Arda, Asieh Hosseini Tabaghdehi, Ainurul Rosli
Postdoctoral Research Assistants & Research administrator
Postdoctoral Research Assistants & Research administrator: Prerna Tambay, Waheed Mughal, Ahrabie Kirubasuthan (Research assistant)

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Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Related Research Group(s)


Strategy Entrepreneurship and International Business - Our themes of research range from entrepreneurial and internationalisation strategies of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to inward and outward investment by large enterprises and supra-national governance.

Partnering with confidence

UKRI Research England

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 29/03/2022