Jaco Renken


Personal profile


Current research is focused on: i) Champions and leaders and their role in socio-economic development; ii) Digital Transformation for Development (Dx4D); iii) The implications of data-intensive development, particularly new forms of data such and big and open data. Past lecturing positions were held at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana. The experience from living and working in developing countries is now brought to bear on my Digital-Development-focussed teaching and research as part of the Manchester Global Development Institute (GDI).

Research interests

  • The role of key individuals, champions and leaders in socio-economic development.
  • The interaction between ICTs and society, particularly in developing country contexts.
  • Digital Transformation for Development (Dx4D), particularly organisational capabilities, readiness and leadership.
  • Big and open data and its implications for socio-economic development.
  • Metric-based research approaches and the use of ICTs in Development Informatics research.


  • Champions and leaders in development. PhD projects that seek to extend conceptualisations about the role of agents and agency, particularly key individuals and stakeholders, in socio-economic development are invited. It is preferred for such projects to be focussed on developing countries and where information and communication technology (ICT) forms part of the context. Development, deployment and support of champions and leaders are examples of relevant aspects to develop.

  • Digital Transformation for Development (Dx4D). PhD projects that evaluate and extend theoretical conceptualisations and practical/policy implications of Dx4D are invited. Areas of particular interest include organisational aspects, such as Dx4D readiness, organisational capabilities and leadership. 
  • Data-intensive development. PhD projects that seek to contribute knowledge and understanding about the transformations brought about in development theory, policy and practice as a consequence of new forms of digital data, including big and open data. A socio-technical approach is preferred and projects aimed at delivering development policy and contributions to development practice are invited.

Units taught

  • Digital Development Leadership. Several modules on our online Master of Leadership for Development jointly delivered with the University of Melbourne, include thematic areas, such as Digital Development Foundations, leading in a Digital World (e-leadership), and Digital Transformation for Development. 
  • E-Business: Organisation and Strategy. This module investigates the theory and practice of electronic business (e-business) within specific organisational and business contexts.

  • Research Methods. This module aims at developing the skills and knowledge necessary to undertake management and information systems research projects in an international context.

  • Introducing Information Systems into Organisations. This module critically examines both the process introducing new information systems – the steps required and the analysis of underlying information problems – and the role of social and human factors in the development process.

  • Fundamentals of Information and Information Systems. This module explores the positive organisational potential of new information systems, and the potential negative realities often associated in the contexts – especially in developing/transitional country organisations – in which these systems are used.

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Conceptualising ICT4D Champions, The University of Manchester

21 Sept 201229 Nov 2016

Award Date: 29 Nov 2016

Areas of expertise

  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • International Development
  • Development Leadership
  • Develoment Informatics
  • ICT4D
  • Information Systems

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Digital Futures
  • Global Development Institute


  • Development Champions
  • Leadership
  • Digital Development
  • Data-intensive Development
  • Big Data
  • Digital Transformation
  • ICT4D
  • Development Informatics
  • Data Justice


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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