Home > Research > Researchers > Thomas Birtchnell

Dr Thomas Birtchnell

Formerly at Lancaster University

Thomas Birtchnell

Current Teaching

FASS 515: Research Projects in Practice (2010) MA/PhD

FASS 510: Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences (2010-2011) MA/PhD

Research Interests

My research interests are in the following areas: geographies of expertise, transnational business elites, portable talent, cosmopolitanism, Indo-mobilities, Corporate-and Consumer-Social Responsibility (CSR and CnSR), innovation, India/South Asia, Hinduism and new religious architectures, non-transport technologies, business travel practices, and anthropology/ethnography.

Currently I am a Research Associate on the Technologies and Travel project at Lancaster University funded by the ESRC. This specific project is developed jointly with UWE and Newcastle where related research is being conducted. Distinguished Professor John Urry is the Principal Investigator. The project will examine how past and future developments have and will transform travel and transport through changing non-transport technologies and social and business practices.



My interest in technology and mobilities began with my honours thesis in social anthropology, a critical analysis of unpublished colonial records of cargo cults in Melanesia, including first-hand accounts from participants and onlookers. The thesis explored technologically-induced social change and drew on science and technology studies and related theories on noise and networks. In 2009 I was awarded my PhD titled Portable Talent—a contribution to an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant with the Centre for the Mind at The University of Sydney and industry partner McKinsey and Company. In this project I collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of academics from sociology, psychology, economics, and neuroscience on a broad study of global business-leaders and success. I applied a qualitative approach to this project focusing on the mobilities of business elites from India and the socio-historical development of talent in globalising circuits of expertise, entrepreneurship, and community. For this research I conducted on-site qualitative interviews in India and Australia with power elites, predominantly CEOs and directors in the ICT and transport sectors. I have also been involved with the Centre for Corporate Change (CCC) in the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) as a researcher on a project on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ethical consumer practices across a range of different countries, including India. In this research the team conducted an analysis of ethical purchasing from a large multi-country survey of consumer behaviour.


2010 Recipient of the Dr Cornelis Lely Prize on Mobility History and Policy prize at the T2M conference New Delhi for 'Jugaad as Risk; Jugaad as 'Indovation'


View all (20) »

View all (18) »