MG4J9      Half Unit
Responsible Digital Innovation: Ethics at Work

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Susan Scott MAR 4.30


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MBA Exchange, MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (Human Resource Management/CIPD), MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (International Employment Relations/CIPD), MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (Organisational Behaviour), MSc in Management (1 Year Programme), MSc in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation, MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance) and MSc in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority will be given to students on the MSc in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation programme.

Course content

This course aims to give students theoretical and practical insights into the ethical implications surrounding the management of digital innovations in business. An area of vibrant scholarship, the issues that we cover are also of growing interest to any employer committed to sustainable innovation who realises that “ESG” (Environment, Society, and Governance) needs to be core to their mission. Students will examine the nature, role, and influence of innovations with a particular interest in the dynamic relationship between digital technologies, organisational practices, and their ethical implications. There are four principles guiding the syllabus for this course:

  • The challenges engulfing the world are not just technical questions, they are value-laden and demand a distinctively socio-technical approach.
  • Contemporary emerging technologies are redefining where accountability lies, challenging the boundaries of corporate social responsibility and organisational governance structures.
  • Going forward ethics will not be a bolted-on topic dealt with in isolation but a living practice; an enactment, that becomes integral to the management of digitalisation.
  • Social sciences provide us with the skills needed to identify the discourses defining the emergence of ethics on the ground and equip us with the ability to respond when asked: what is this a case of?

We will consistently take the ethical challenges surrounding contemporary emerging technologies (AI, robotics, remote working arrangements, digital ledger technologies etc.) as our focus although the specific case studies used may vary year to year. Whenever possible, we will invite industry experts to participate on the course to learn from their experience of “ethics at work” in their organisations.

We will learn about the different ways in which ethical challenges are framed and become able to identify streams of discourse in the workplace. Students will deconstruct the rationale (technical, managerial, stakeholder) being used to address ethical challenges, enabling them to work toward more inclusive and reflective approaches to the management of contemporary emerging technologies. Within this, the emphasis will be on identifying the unintended consequences of contemporary emerging technologies in the workplace with a focus on themes of accountability, responsibility, and sustainability.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Classes are case study focused with discussion of selected journal articles or book chapters. Reading week will take place during Week 6. There will be no teaching during this week.

Additional learning activities: When possible, industry leaders and policy makers will be invited to discuss their encounters with ethical challenges and the management practices that they have developed in response to them. This may take the form of a face-to-face meeting with students, or a video prepared in advance (e.g., Prof Scott interviewing an expert) posted on Moodle.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 case study in the LT.

A formative assignment will be submitted at the end of week 5, Lent Term. Having studied published case studies in Weeks 1-4 in Lent Term, students will be tasked with writing their own mini case study (approx. 1000 words). This formative assignment provides an opportunity for class teachers to discuss the strengths and limitations of different case study options with the student. These discussions ensure that the students thoroughly understand the kind of ethical issue or challenge that best fits the course criteria. It also motivates them to engage deeper with the foundational principles of the course and appropriate literature.

Indicative reading

  • Brigham, M. and Introna, L. (2007). Invoking politics and ethics in the design of information technology: Undesigning the design. Ethics and Information Technology, 9, 1-10.
  • Cheney-Lippold, J. (2017). We Are Data. NYU Press. 
  • Cybulski, J.L. and Scheepers, R. (2021). Data science in organizations: Conceptualizing its breakthroughs and blind spots. Journal of Information Technology, 36(2), 154-175.
  • Freeman, R. E. (2004). Stakeholder Theory and “The corporate objective revisited,” Organization Science, 15(3), 364-369.
  • Gray, M. L., & Suri, S. (2019). Ghost work: How to stop Silicon Valley from building a new global underclass. Eamon Dolan Books.
  • Kaplan, S. (2019). The 360° Corporation: From stakeholder trade-offs to transformation. Stanford University Press.
  • Noble, S.U. (2018). Algorithms of Oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. NYU Press.
  • Stahl, B.C. et al. (2014). From computer ethics to responsible research and innovation in ICT: The transition of reference discourses informing ethics-related research in information systems. Information & Management 51, 810-818.
  • Stilgoe, J., Owen, R., and P. Macnaghten (2013). Developing a framework for responsible innovation. Research Policy, 42(9), 1568–1580.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Research Essay

Marking guidelines will give weight to the process of identifying how, what, where, and when issues have emerged; the different ways in which issues are being or could be framed; and the influence that this has on the management approach(es) in use. Students will be expected to show mastery of the concepts, marshal the literature, and produce a data-informed, well-structured line of argument.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication