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Personal profile


Chris Foster is currently a Lecturer at the Global Development Institute, where he joined in October 2018 as a Presidential Fellow.

His research focusses on the digital economy, digital governance and the implications of innovations on the global distribution of production, work and labour.

Prior to joined GDI, Chris was a Lecturer in ICT and innovation in the Information School in Sheffield (2015-2018). He worked as a researcher at the University of Oxford (2013-2015). He achieved a PhD from the University of Manchester (2009 – 2013) looking at mobile sector innovation in Kenya, and its implications for innovation theory, firm strategy and public policy.

For more infromation

  • For full publication list including pre-publish copies see here

Research interests

Chris' research work sits at the intersection of digital technologies and analysis of globalisation of production.

Specifically, he is currently researching in the following areas:

Digitalisation and impact on global production networks

This research explores the impact of digital technologies on firms. This work particularly will explore the ways that digital infrastructure, digitalisation and platformization enables or constrains small firms as they integrate into global networks.

New models of innovation for development

As innovation has become of interest to development agendas, this research explores the shifting concept of ‘innovation’. Chris has particularly researched strategy and policy that might allow digital innovations to move beyond economic outcomes to be more socially inclusive.

Digital economy governance

This work explores the growing interest in governance of the digital economy and data, including analysis of global, regional and national perspectives. As part of his research on "digital trade" he runs the web resource on digital trade called the digital trade tracker




Chris would be interested in advising highly-motivated PhD students whose interests fit in the following areas:

  1. Impacts of digitalisation (or the Fourth Industrial Revolution) on global production networks and value chains, with emphasis on marginal firms and excluded regions
  2. Platforms and implications for development
  3. The global/national governance of the digital economy and implications for the global south
  4. Innovation, specifically thinking about notions of inclusive innovation

You are welcome to make a first approach to discuss doctoral study via email

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures
  • Global Development Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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