Dr Xanthe Whittaker

Dr Xanthe Whittaker


My research agenda is constituted of two intersecting strands of interest. The first is digital transformations of work and their effect on working conditions and production relations, including labour’s agency in negotiating, both formally and informally, the use of technology at work. My doctoral research was an ethnographic study of newspaper journalism, focusing on the effect of digitalisation on the content and organization of work in newsrooms, on contracts of employment for journalists and employment relations. I am currently developing this strand to extend my research on the digital transformations of work to look at the challenges these pose for employment relations and HRM, specifically the application of people analytics and AI to the HR function.

I have worked to bring researchers on digital transformations of work into conversation; drawing together insights from inside and outside the academy, as well as from disciplines including sociology of work, organisation studies, media and cultural studies. In 2017 I convened a stream on Digital Labour at the International Labour Process Conference held in Sheffield. In 2018, I co-edited a collection of essays, Humans and Machines at Work, which evolved from a symposium at WZB in Berlin in 2016 and includes discussions of monitoring and surveillance, automation, the gig economy and the quantified self in the workplace from different disciplinary perspectives. I am currently on the organizing team for Disrupting Technology, with scholars from CERIC (University of Leeds), digit (Leeds and Sussex) and Monash Business School, Australia. This follow-up to our 2020 conference will be held in Prato in June 2023. 

My second strand of interest focuses on inequalities at work and the social, economic and organizational processes that give rise to workplace stratification by gender and race, the (de)valuing of work, and the shaping of conditions and experiences of work. I have worked with colleagues in CERIC on a major study of workforce issues and working conditions in Early Childhood Education and Care, through a UKRI/ESRC grant Childcare During Covid-19 in England and Wales. 

For more, see: https://childcare-during-covid.org/

Academic Posts held:

2021 – Present: Lecturer in Work and Employment Relations

09/2020 – 01/2022       Research Associate: Impact and Dissemination lead (0.6FTE), Childcare during Covid-19 project, CERIC (Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation & Change), Leeds University Business School.

05/2019 – 01/2022    Post-doctoral researcher, CERIC (Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation & Change), Leeds University Business School.

2016 - 2019: Teaching Fellow in Human Resource Management, University of Leeds Business School.

2015 - 2016: Interviewer, Health working lives: a longitudinal study of early career clinicians expectations and experiences of work, employment and career in the NHS. School of Management, University of Leicester.

2014 - 2016: Associate Tutor, University of Leicester Business School

2013 - Present: University of Leicester Business School funded Doctoral Researcher

2009 - 2010: Research coordinator, x:talk project Human Rights Sex Work and the Challenge of Trafficking. European Commissions Daphne programme.

2008 - 2009: Researcher. ISET, London Metropolitan University. ESRC project Migrants in the UK Sex Industry.


  • Deputy Director, MSc Data Analytics and Human Resource Management
  • CERIC Executive Group

Research interests

My research interests include digital transformations of work, people analytics, the effects of technology on work and society, race and gender at work, care work, labour process theory and organizational ethnography.

I am interested in supervising doctoral students with interests in any of the above.


  • 2019 - PhD, University of Leicester (ULSM fully-funded studentship)
  • 2016 - Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • 2001 - BPPM Public Policy and Management (Hons), University of Melbourne

Professional memberships

  • British Sociological Association (BSA)
  • British Universities Industrial Relations Associations (BUIRA)
  • Academic Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (MCIPD)

Student education

I principally teach strategic HRM and people analytics but also cover modules in sociology of work, critical management studies and business ethics. I currently teach on third-year undergraduate and masters modules in the Work and Employment Relations Department.

In addition to my academic teaching, I have a background in critical pedagogy and have worked in teaching settings with marginalised groups, including Somali women refugees and migrant sex workers. I have a long-term commitment to working with students to create learning environments that are inclusive, enable participation and that recognise the role learning plays, not just in the development of skills and employability, but in the wider context of democratic participation in civil society and in social change.


LUBS3185 People Analytics: Strategy and Practice 

LUBS5342M People Analytics: Strategy and Practice

LUBS5322M Strategic Human Resource Management

LUBS5326M Digitalization, Automation and the Future of Work


LUBS0060 Introduction to HRM

LUBS1760 Business & Society (Organisation Theory)

LUBS3855 Strategic Human Resource Management

LUBS5330M Human Resources Management

LUBS5443M Change Management and Communications

LUBS5842M Strategic HRM and Talent Management

LUBS5320M Training & Development

LUBS5592M - Research Methods and Practice for Consultants

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change

Current postgraduate researchers