Members of the Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management subject group undertake research into several areas of organisation studies, human resource management and employment relations. The main themes are outlined below. The outcomes of our research are published in leading academic journals. The subject group also enjoys strong links with practitioner bodies, with members engaged in research collaborations with organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA). A regular publication (HR Bulletin: Research and Practice) is produced from within the subject group. With contributions from managers, academics and students, it features research articles aimed at managers and HR practitioners.

Current research

Employment relations

The subject group has a strong research interest in the field of employment relations, and hosts a dedicated research cluster – the Portsmouth Employment Relations Network (PERN). Iona Byford’s research includes studies of union organising and attitudes of young workers towards trade unions. Peter Scott and Steve Williams research employment relations policy. Steve is also interested in the role of civil regulation in employment relations. Yvonne Rueckert’s research is concerned with international comparative employment relations and organisation theory. She has a particular focus on the issue of international labour standards and the dialogue between the global unions and the international financial institutions (World Bank and IMF). Tom Higgins has examined the demand for literacy and numeracy skills in low paying occupations, with a particular focus on front line work in retail and social care. His current research activities include a study of managerial work in care homes.

Leadership and talent management

The subject group’s research strengths include the topic of leadership. James McCalman leads the Centre for Strategy and Leadership. His research interests include: ethical leadership challenges and the politics of change; leading large-scale organisational change; and leadership development and coaching. Karen Johnston's research interests are in the areas of public sector management and leadership. Her research covers aspects of organisational reforms and innovations, public-private-voluntary sector partnerships and gender equality. Alex Tymon undertakes individual and collaborative research on leadership, with a bias towards implicit leadership and leadership development learning. The research of Yi-Ling Lai focuses on HRD strategies and talent management, particularly how to enhance motivation and positive behavioural change through organisational learning activities and leadership development. Foteini Kravariti’s research interests include capacity building, cross-cultural management and talent management. She is particularly concerned with the impact of national and organisational culture on the implementation of talent management.

Global HR

The topic of global HR is a key focus of research in the subject group. Liza Howe-Walsh, for example, is looking at global leadership competencies, repatriation, self-initiated expatriation and HR policy. Emmanouil Papavasilieou’s focus is on inter-generational differences and their impacts on managing people and work dynamics within an international context. Rui Yang’s research is on corporate community involvement behaviours in the context of the Chinese market. The research interests of Matthew Anderson focus on the intersection between civil society and business.  His main research outputs, to date, have investigated the role of the Fair Trade movement and have explored the key drivers behind the mainstreaming of an alternative business model. Meanwhile, Kajal Sharma’s research involves understanding the role of HRM in the Indian health care sector.

Workplace learning and development

The subject group also has research expertise in the area of workplace learning and development. Members play an active part in the Business and Education Research Group (BERG). Valerie Anderson’s research interests are: doctoral education and development; international human resource development; managerial coaching; and strategic HRD. Margaret Mackay researches the role of continuing professional development (CPD) in the workplace, with a focus on practitioners’ professional learning. She also explores reflective learning, leadership development and critical thinking to strengthen the personal development impact of business school education. Cheryl Brook’s research focuses on the practice of cross-cultural action learning; while Michele Towell has research interests in the areas of coaching, learning and development, change and performance management. 

Researching the fair trade movement

This research centres on the networks and relationships that have evolved between business and civil society organisations (CSOs), and are now one of the defining features of the Fair Trade movement. At a conceptual level the work has focused on exploring and unpacking notions of ‘fairness’; and this has been underpinned by empirical research investigating how Fair Trade has been practiced and operationalised both in the UK and in the Global South.

As a business model, balancing the demands of being ‘in and against the market’ has challenged and gripped Fair Trade. From the early 1990s, Fair Trade has developed from being an activist-led campaign interest, to become a popular and engaging customer value proposition. The primary device in promoting the market for Fair Trade has been the success of the FAIRTRADE Mark. Support for this voluntary labelling initiative, has led academics to characterise Fair Trade as primarily a ‘consumer choice movement’. However, the experience of the Fair Trade movement in the UK over the last 25 years suggests that consumer activism is only part of the story.

Research findings reveal that, historically, Fair Trade’s success as a ‘consumer movement for change’ needs to be understood and recognised as highly contingent on its connection to wider social networks. What emerges from detailed archive research is the significant role played by CSOs as intermediaries - linking producers, businesses and consumers. This empirical evidence underlines the need to revisit assessments of Fair Trade, and integrate within the existing narrative a more broadly political perspective that extends beyond economic drivers of change.

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