From March 23-28, Lorna Downie, who is associated with the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society visited Oslo and BI Campus Nydalen.
Lorna is a scholar associated with the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society, and a PhD candidate at the KIN Center for Digital Innovation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). She has much experience in both industry and academia - including as an emerging technology consultant and more recently as a postgraduate at the University of Cambridge. In her research, Lorna explores the impact of datafication and algorithmic technologies on work and organizing.
During her visit, Lorna held a research seminar in which she presented insights from her ongoing ethnographic study at a national umbrella organisation for sport and several affiliated sport federations as they prepare for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in 2024. More specifically, she presented a work-in-progress paper looking at how biometric data is being used to manage people in practice. The seminar was arranged by the Nordic Centre.
Managing people using biometric data
A data-driven approach to managing people at work is part and parcel of what nowadays is referred to as people analytics (or HR analytics). From monitoring how workers answer their emails to how they move their mouse, the possibilities of people analytics have grown exponentially over the last decade. This includes the collection and use of biometric data - seen as a way to better manage worker health and performance.
In their paper, titled ‘On the right track? Studying the use of biometric data to manage people in an elite sports organization’, Lorna and her co-authors look to provide empirical insights into how this is playing out in practice - in a context where collecting and using data related to the body is commonplace. They uncovered three particular ways coaches and players interacted with one another as they attempted to make use of biometric data, with negotiations over complementary rhythms, revealing the true self and the degree of context required to make sense of the data. Lorna went on to present a provisional framework for managing workers with their biometric data. This identified the inherent properties of biometric data, the interactions required between workers and managers to achieve a shared control of the body and the unforeseen burdens arising in practice.
Several members of the Nordic Centre and other members of the Department of Communication and Culture were present at the seminar, and Lorna’s presentation led to many interesting insights, questions, and perspectives.
You can keep up to date with Lorna’s latest research endeavours here!