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Employment relations research

Explore our work in employment relations, 1 of our areas of expertise in Organisational Studies and HR

Relationships between workers and employers are a fundamentally important part of economic and social life, and our Employment Relations research looks at how governments, employers and other agencies influence these relationships. It also explores how working people can organise themselves to improve the quality of their working lives.

Through our research, we're answering some of the fundamental questions at the heart of the employer-worker relationship – from how these relationships are regulated by employers, trade unions, governments and other bodies, to why conflict arises between workers and their employers and how such conflict manifests itself.

There's also an increasingly international dimension to our research in the field, and we're investigating the expanding role played by international organisations in trying to shape the nature of work and employment relationships. Our research focuses on the role and influence of these international organisations, the relationships that exist between them, and how their policies relate to global labour governance.

Our work is frequently published by leading academic journals such as the British Journal of Industrial Relations, the Industrial Relations Journal, Employee Relations, Economic and Industrial Democracy, and the European Journal of Industrial Relations.

Our research covers the following topics

  • The study of union organising and attitudes of young workers towards trade unions
  • Employment relations policy and regulation
  • New and emerging actors in employment relations
  • The intersection of international comparative employment relations with organisation theory

The latter topic focuses, in particular, on the issue of international labour standards and the dialogue between the global unions and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF.


Our research makes use of both large-scale quantitative research methods – including statistical techniques such as regression analysis and structural equation modelling – and qualitative methods such as interviews, case studies and ethnographic techniques. We also analyse and interpret policy developments at various levels.

Collaborations and funders

We enjoy a close relationship with the British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA), and we've undertaken work with various trade union organisations, including Unite Community. Our work on international financial institutions and global labour governance has also enabled us to work collaboratively with agencies such as the International Labour Organisation and the World Bank. 

Recent funders for our research include major funding organisations such as the Nuffield Foundation, and the Low Pay Commission, an independent body that advises the government about the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage.

Publication highlights

Discover our areas of expertise

Employment relations is 1 of our 4 areas of expertise in our Organisational Studies and HR research area. Explore the others below.

Research groups

We're researching employment relations, leadership and talent management, workplace learning and global human resources.

Interested in a PhD in Human Resource Management?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Human Resource Management postgraduate research degrees page.


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