Newcastle University Business School

Staff Profile

Dr Karen Elliott

Senior Lecturer in Enterprise/Innovation (FinTech)



Karen voted as #Standout 35 Women in FinTech Powerlist awarded by Innovate Finance* focuses her research on FinTech (financial technology) within the Digital Economy and examining the Future of Work.

Within the digital economy, the FinTech industry is one of the major growth industries in the UK. Such companies create new, cheaper and faster financial services, utilising the latest technologies―cloud, mobile and blockchain. To succeed, underpinning the use of technology is a prerequisite of how to gain customers trust when the financial industry mortgage crisis almost a decade ago resides in consumers memories. FinTech organisations need to gain trust while technologies are rapidly changing, in addition, hacking and data breach events are a continuous feature in the news. Karen and Prof Aad van Moorsel (Computer Science) were awarded a £1.2m EPSRC Research grant to work with Atom Bank (Durham) on optimising FinTech services. ‘FinTrust’ examines the issue of trust in FinTech organisations, identifying the generic research challenges and establishing fundamental research results.  A particular focus centres on increased automation through the use of machine learning algorithms, in short, trust engineering where the use of algorithms present challenges to consumer trust via the new services. Likewise, co-leads the FinTrust team in exploring identity verification for ‘Financial Inclusion’ funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Turing Institute. Karen speaks at various events on FinTech including Dynamo conferences, Strathclyde FinTech Symposium and currently forms part of the Dynamo FinTech Steering Group collaborating with FinTech North to develop the NE FinTech ecosystem bringing, practitioners, government, financial regulators and academics together to engage in knowledge exchange and promote events. Karen forms part of The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, (“The IEEE Global Initiative”) establishing ethical and social implementations for intelligent and autonomous systems and technologies inspiring the creation of Standards (IEEE P7000™ series and beyond). Karen is a founding member of the movement for Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR)a fusion of ethical considerations at the individual and societal level, with recognition that technological change can spawn both utopian and dystopian futures. CDR seeks to find the balance and guide our progress toward an equitable digital society, that works for us all.

Linked to the above initiatives is exploring business agility and the Future of Work to bring an ‘agile’ of growth mindset into the university and the local ecosystem to prepare future generations for the challenges in digital transformation and beyond. This aspect of Karen’s research develops the three dimensions of complexity theory applied to Agile/Scrum methodologies (Maylor et al., 2013, 2015). Accounting for different scaling, adaptability and complexity configurations, this stream of research deepens knowledge of the factors practitioners/managers face when addressing the differing levels of complexity and yet, professional training remains focused on addressing structural complexity i.e., planning and tasks involved in projectslacking agility thus, first struggle with the reported problematic socio-political and emergent complexity (i.e. Brexit) to maximise organisations potential including FinTechs. Karen utilises analytical skills in qualitative, quantitative and ‘fuzzy set’ Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to examining complex strategic configurations.

Karen is an enthusiastic teacher, nominated for an outstanding contribution to teaching award and integrates her research within the digital ‘Future of Work’ sector to inform her modules, particularly focusing on embedding ‘agile’ skills to undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students. Karen currently supervises six postgraduate students who are conducting research into project management, entrepreneurship, FinTech and Ethical Artificial Intelligence. 

Karen has received in excess of £1m in research funding.

Integral to the NE FinTech Ecosystem a report was published in conjunction with FinTech North December 2019 see:


*Innovate Finance is the independent industry body that represents and advances the global FinTech community in the UK. (see:

Bibliographic links

Research Gate:



Google Scholar:





Roles and Responsibilities:

Previously Degree Programme Director (DPD): Groningen Dual Award Programme, Newcastle University Business School;

Member of Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise (KITE) Research Group;

A peer reviewer for the EPSRC/UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Nodes (TAS) Fund;

Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies.

PhD Students:

Mrs Claire Heron

Mrs Aditi Adikahri

Mr Tom Shanks

Mr Naif Aldwais

Mr Haoran Su

Mr Shaker Alkaabneh





Research Interests

Digital Economy - FinTech, Cyber Security, Programme and Project Management, Complexity Theory, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), Agile/Scrum Methodologies, Organizational Ecology, Organisational Behaviour and Behavioural Psychology (Trust).

Current Work


Research Gate:

Google Scholar:





Research Roles

Member, Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise (KITE) Research Group
Member, NUBS Research & Ethics Committee

Postgraduate Supervision

Daniel Lee (PhD, due to graduate July 2021)
Clare Heron (PhD (PT), due to graduate July 2019))

Esteem Indicators

2018 (2016) - KEYNOTE of ‘Fintech Week’ panel regarding the future of financial technologies – Strathclyde University requested by the Financial Sector in Scotland with the Technology and Innovation Department (02/09/2016 and 21/09/2018).

2017 - ‘Unruly Innovation’, After Money Symposium, University of Edinburgh Business School.


2014 - Université Catholique de Louvain - An fsQCA analysis of Cognitive Organization Theory (COT): organization inertia and change cascades in Police Forces across the EU – UCL, Belgium, upon invitation by Professor Benoît Rihoux, COMPASSS – QCA Organization.


Expert panels/consultancy:

2018 - Expert Panel Member – ‘The future of challenger banks’, Dynamo Conference 18 Urban Sciences Building, Newcastle University.


2018 - ESRC expert consultant – provided advice for ESRC Report ‘Fintech and the future of financial services’ prepared by Professor Alistair Milne, Loughborough University.


2016 - Expert Member of Research Methods Development (RMD) Consortium (2014), upon invitation of Prof. Todd Alessandri, D’Amore Business & Strategy Group, Northeastern University, Boston, MA. This involves a series of webinars to a panel of experts covering the subjects of Publishing; Research Design; Teaching/Networking; Contribution to knowledge and ‘Methods matter–the future’.


External Examiner: PhD, University of Antwerp (BEL).


Academy of Management (AOM); Policing: an International Journal of Police Strategies & Management; Human Resource Development International (HRDI) Journal; The Open Psychology Journal; International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research; The European Journal of Finance; Journal of Asian Business & Management.


Editorial Board Member: Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies


External Examiner: PhD, University of Antwerp (BEL).



EPSRC Fund with Computer Science Faculty, 1/18, £1.2m

Social Entrepreneurship Impact ESRC, 06/17-06/18, £8k

FinTech network development (with Durham University), £7.5k, 06/17-06/18, £3k 

HaSS Learning and Teaching fund (2018-190), Agile/Scrum Professional Training pilot for student education and industry readiness, £3k.

Industrial Relevance

Karen is a qualified practitioner in PRINCE2, Management of Risk (MoR), Change Management, Management of Value (MoV) and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), representative for PMI NE Chapter and APM for the Business School.  Her work is informed by collaboration with industry practitioner on a regional, national and international level.


FinTech; Cyber Security; Future of Work; Agile/Scrum; Complexity; QCA; Programme, Project, Risk and Change Management; Business Strategy and Processes.




NBS8062 – Research Methods (ABC, ICE and eBIS programmes)

NBS8494 – Programme and Project Management (MBA)

NBS8234 – Programme and Project Management (eBIS)

NBS8328 – International Project Management (International Management Practitioner)