Engaging with change: information and communication technology professionals’ perspectives on change at the mid-point in the UK/EU Brexit process

Elizabeth Lomas, Julie McLeod

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been a key agent of change in the 21st century. Given the role of ICT in changing society, this research explores the responses and attitudes to change over time from ICT professionals and ICT academics in dealing with the potentially far reaching political challenge triggered by the UK’s 2016 European Union Referendum and its decision to leave the European Union (Brexit). Whilst the vote was a UK based decision its ramifications have global implications and as such the research was not confined to the UK. This article presents the second phase of the research at the mid-point in the UK/European Union (EU) Brexit process, thus complementing the findings gathered immediately after the Referendum decision. The fundamental question being researched was: What are ICT professionals’ personal and professional perspectives on the change triggered by Brexit in terms of opportunities and threats?

Methods and findings
Data was collected through a survey launched in March 2018, one year on from the UK’s triggering of Article 50 and marking the mid-point in the two-year Brexit process. The survey replicated the one delivered at the point of the Referendum decision in 2016 with some developments. In addition, two appreciative inquiry focus groups were conducted. The research sought to understand any shifting perspectives on the opportunities and threats that would exist post-Brexit for ICT professionals and academics. 59% of survey participants were negative regarding the Brexit decision. Participants noted the position post-Brexit for the UK, and the remaining 27 EU Member States (EU27), was still very uncertain at this stage. They observed that planned change versus uncertainty provides for very different responses. In spite of the uncertainty, the participants were able to consider and advocate for potential opportunities although these were framed from national perspectives. The opportunities identified within the appreciative inquiry focus groups aligned to those recorded by survey participants with similar themes highlighted. However, the optimum conditions for change have yet to be reached as there is still not an informed position, message and clear leadership with detailed information for the ICT context. Further data will be gathered after the UK exit from the EU, assuming this occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0227089
Number of pages31
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2020


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