Feb 05 2019

Dr G. 'Hari' Harindranath, School of Management, has recently won backing in his collaborative project from the UK Government's research and innovation funding agency with a major GCRF grant. We recently caught up with Hari to learn more about the GCRF grant and his role within the School of Management.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role within the School of Management?

I am a Reader in Information Systems and the Director of Internationalisation for the School. I teach and research in information systems, a discipline that has at its core the intersection of people and technology. In my Internationalisation role, I am leading several initiatives as well as collaborating with colleagues to strengthen existing relationships and developing new ones. For instance, we are on the verge of signing agreements with Copenhagen Business School to explore research collaboration, a teaching-related agreement with the University of Stellenbosch Business School and collaboration beyond Erasmus with IMT Telecom Business School in France. I am in discussions with the University of Hong Kong’s continuing education arm and Japan’s Kyoto Tachibana University.


2. We understand that you and your colleague Professor Unwin have recently won backing from the UK government’s research and innovation funding agency with a major GCRF grant. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

 Our work package within this five-year, £20 million UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub focuses on the relationship between technology, migration and inequality. The Hub, which is to be based at Coventry University, brings together over 26 global partners to investigate how South-South migration contributes to the delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals such as ending poverty and reducing inequality.

This is a hugely exciting opportunity as we will be working alongside a fantastic group of academics, artists, community leaders, international organisations and policymakers from 12 countries across South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. We begin next month with a workshop in Accra, Ghana, followed by a simultaneous project launch in all 12 partner countries.


3. What is the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and what is the importance of this funding?

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund from the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses development issues. The scale and scope of this funding means that we will be able to engage with a wide range of partners from around the developing world to address the intractable challenges posed by international migration. Specifically, the UKRI'S GCRF Hubs Call aims to establish interdisciplinary research Hubs addressing such global challenges. GCRF is a major priority for the College and I am thrilled to be able to support the College and the School through this grant.


4. What sort of impact do you hope to achieve from your investigation into leveraging ICT to address inequality?

ICTs have great potential for developmental but there is evidence to suggest that it can further exacerbate existing inequalities and disenfranchise already marginalised people. Working with our partners in the developing world we will investigate this in the challenging context of South-South migration. Our work package also has an element of intervention in that we will work with people on the ground to develop technology that can enable positive migrant-related development outcomes. So, there is significant potential for impact.


5. Aside from your GCRF project, are you currently working on any other projects/research?

The GCRF project is going to be my focus for the next few years but I am also wrapping up some work with partners in Austria and Egypt on the role played by ICT in collective action scenarios that are increasingly blended (online-offline).  I am also working on a paper that questions the technological determinism that often underpins ‘smart’ initiatives (e.g., smart cities), where people and community aspirations are all but missing.


6. What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

Being a dad of twin 10-year old boys doesn’t leave much time for a lot else, not that I am complaining! Weekends are usually filled with friends and food (lots of both)! We are also obsessive as a family about travel! A recent highlight was a brilliant flamenco performance in a Madrid cellar! Over the past year or so, I have also discovered something that has eluded me for most of my life - the gym! Better late than never!


7. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the School of Management?

Having been here since 1995, I have been part of the School’s journey from a mere handful of academics to becoming the largest and possibly the most diverse department on campus. Daily lunches at the Happy Man may have long gone but we still manage to retain a sense of community. It has been an amazing journey with so many interesting opportunities for personal and professional development. Meeting a new cohort of students each year always gives me a buzz! The size and diversity of the School’s offerings also mean that there is always something new around the corner. I also feel rather lucky to be working in such a beautiful campus environment!  


8. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…

I've discovered that I am happiest when I'm dealing with people, be it students or colleagues as there is always something new to learn. I've also found that occasionally getting out of your comfort zone brings surprising results!