Our research addresses four core themes:
1. Employment and Productivity
Work under this theme examines: (i) the changing structure of labour markets and the growth in ‘atypical’ forms of employment, including underemployment, bogus self-employment and ‘gig work’; (ii) the consequences of atypical employment for the wellbeing of workers and their labour market prospects; (iii) the labour market and occupational mobility of disadvantaged workers, including the extent to which they cycle between employment, underemployment and unemployment and the factors that influence the ability of disadvantaged groups to progress from ‘bad’ to ‘better’ jobs; (iv) factors affecting the quality of jobs; (v) the complex linkages between employment, work organisation and productivity; (vi) and work in the informal economy.
2. Equality, Inclusion and Voice
Work within this theme focuses on: (i) understanding disability, gender and employment in advanced and emerging economies; (ii) challenging discriminatory structures, processes and practices and improving the quality and sustainability of work for marginalised workers ; (iii) promoting agency and voice for marginalised workers; and (iv) building ‘inclusive’ organisations.
3. Labour in the Global Economy
This research theme explores the position of labour in the global economy through the analysis of four dimensions of work and employment research. (i) The ‘Labour of Movement’ focuses upon employment relations and the labour process of workers in global logistics, warehousing and parcel delivery. This work addresses the political economy of the connected spheres of production, circulation and consumption. It also explores the impact of technology on workers in the logistics sector. (ii) Supply chain accounting and employment practices in the automotive and textile industries in South Africa and Brazil. This interdisciplinary ESRC-funded project engages with institutional theory and debates around global value chains, in addition to addressing concerns around vulnerable work. (iii) The politics of corporate social responsibility, workplace regulation and labour standards. (iv) Theorising Labour Regimes and the Labour Process: This dimension brings together social science researchers with different theoretical perspectives and approaches in order to explore these issues and develop a systematic programme of cutting-edge research and theory building.
4. Regulation and Governance of Work
Work in this theme explores: (i) the regulation of work and employment at the international, national, regional and local levels; (ii) the composition and behaviour of regulatory institutions; (iii) differing forms of workplace governance and the role of stakeholders; (iv) the challenges of regulating non-standard work and work in the informal economy; (v) variations in regulation and governance in the private, public and third sectors; and (vi) differing theoretical approaches to regulation and the intersection with broader processes of political economy.
In addition to advancing knowledge in these and other areas, CDW is committed to communicating our work to policymaking and practitioner communities and engaging with them with the aim of making improvements in the world of work.
The research topics on which we focus include:
- Atypical employment;
- Dependent and bogus self-employment;
- Disabled workers, their employment opportunities and workplace experiences;
- Employment rights;
- HRM in China;
- Informal economy;
- Labour Process Theory and Global Value Chains;
- Low-paid work;
- New methods of conflict resolution;
- Pension reforms;
- Public administration and labour policy (labour administration);
- Social policy and flexicurity in the UK and the EU;
- Women’s employment and careers;
- Work and employment in the logistics sector;
- Work and employment in SMEs;
- Workplace support for working carers;
- Young workers and their labour market transitions.
Members of CDW are leading and collaborate on a variety of projects, many of which are funded by research councils, charitable foundations, and government departments. We use our knowledge and research expertise to conduct research that informs academic debates and addresses real-world problems through applied scholarship and stakeholder engagement. To do this we use a broad range of approaches and research methods.
SODITREC (Social Dialogue in the Transforming Economy)
SODITREC (Social Dialogue in the Transforming Economy) is funded by the European Commission (DG Employment) and seeks to develop knowledge and expertise about social dialogue and workers’ participation in Europe. The project work is led by Dragos Adascalitei. Based on a multistakeholder approach, SODITREC will update existing knowledge about the determinants of sustainable and inclusive social dialogue in European companies.
Managerial Competences, Engagement and Productivity - Developing Positive Relationships
Led by Paul Latreille from CDW, with R. Saundry (Plymouth University), P. Urwin (Westminster University) and G. Dix (Acas). This ESRC-funded project will evaluate the impact of training interventions designed to equip line managers with conflict competence and other skills needed to foster positive relationships with those they manage.
Combining Work and Care: Workplace Support and its Contribution to Sustainable Care Arrangements
This project (led by Jason Heyes, CDW and Janet Fast, University of Alberta) contributes to Sustainable Care: Connecting People and Systems, a major ESRC-funded research programme led by the CIRCLE. The project will generate insights into sustainable care and wellbeing by comparing developments in the UK and other countries and working with Employers for Carers and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and international academic partners. The project contributes to knowledge on paid care leave and voluntary workplace arrangements as sources of sustainability and wellbeing in care relations.
The Impact of the National Living Wage on Businesses
Funded by the Low Pay Commission, this project aims to generate information about the ways in which UK employers have responded to the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) and changes in its level. The research examines the consequences of the NLW for employers and for the decency of work by focusing on the hospitality and retail sectors. The research explores the extent to which the NLW has impacted on businesses in the two sectors, the ways in which employers have responded to the introduction of the NLW and changes in its level, and the consequences for establishments’ performance and employees’ pay and conditions.
The Productivity Insights Network (PIN)
PIN was established in January 2018 and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). As a multi-disciplinary network of social science researchers engaged with public, private, and third sector partners, the aim is to change the tone of the productivity debate in theory and practice. It is led by the University of Sheffield, with co-investigators at the Cambridge Econometrics, Cardiff University, Durham University, University of Sunderland, SQW, University of Cambridge, University of Essex, University of Glasgow, and the University of Leeds. Kirsty Newsome is a Co-investigator to the project and leads the ‘Work and Employment’ theme. The three-year programme of work to December 2020 aims to provide new insights on the productivity puzzle in the UK. The PIN network is committed to growing the Productivity Insights Network through the participation of academic, public, private, and third sector partners who bring new insights to the productivity debate.
The Growth of Non-Standard Work and Productivity Outcomes
This project is funded by a Pioneer Award from the ESRC Productivity Insights Network. Kirsty Newsome and Ed Yates are co-investigators on this research project, which is led by colleagues at the University of Leicester. The research explores the productivity puzzle in the context of fast-rising employment levels since 2012 and the significant growth of non-standard, insecure work in the UK. It aims to uncover the workplace practices and labour market conditions that may be inhibiting the return to a higher productivity trajectory. The project will illuminate the relationship between the growth of non-standard contracts – zero hours, temporary and `bogus’ self-employment – and workplace practices that may be inimical to productivity gains.
Tackling the undeclared economy in the West Balkans
Professor Colin Williams has been appointed to advise six countries in the West Balkans on their strategies for tackling undeclared work, to aid their accession to the European Union from 2025 (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia). Working with the Regional Cooperation Council and ILO, the objective is to align the strategies towards tackling informal employment in these six countries with the approaches being adopted in the European Union’s European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work. This will facilitate their smooth accession to the EU.
Service contract to the European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work, 2016 -2020
A consortium led by the University of Sheffield, ICF (a private sector consultancy company) and Centre of Social Democracy (Bulgaria) has a €5.6 million contract to provide the expert advice to the European Commission’s European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work. The Platform is a permanent body within the European Labour Authority.
Out of the shadows: tackling undeclared work in the European Union, 2017-2019
This €200,000 project involves a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, Dr Ioana A Horodnic from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi in Romania, working in SUMS for two years to evaluate the effectiveness of different policy approaches for tackling undeclared work.
Members of CDW are leading and collaborate on a variety of projects, many of which are funded by research councils, charitable foundations, and government departments. We use our knowledge and research expertise to conduct research that informs ongoing academic debates and addresses real-world problems through applied scholarship.
Other projects involving members of CDW include:
- An examination of the local economic governance strategies of UK cities and how they impact local labour market outcomes. Edward Yates.
- An exploration of the labour market conditions for young workers in the UK in the post-crisis austerity period. Edward Yates.
- Trade Union Internationalism in Latin America: A Study of the International Dockworkers' Council. Katy Fox-Hodess.
- Political Solidarity on the Docks: A Cross-National Study of Dockworker Solidarity with Palestine. Katy Fox-Hodess.
- An evaluation of Effective Conflict Resolution Skills training at an NHS Foundation Trust. Paul Latreille (with R. Saundry, Plymouth)
- An exploration of disability and employment in the public sector in Australia and the UK. Paul Latreille, Pauline Dibben and Nik Bakalov.
- How the one-child policy affects the work-life interface of universities academics in China. Huiping Xian.
- An exploration of daughters’ identity as successors and leaders in Chinese family businesses. Huiping Xian.
- The impact of technology on logistics workers: A comparative study. Kirsty Newsome and Chima Anyadike-Danes.
Recently completed research and consultancy projects involving CDW members include:
- Living on the Edge: Experiencing Workplace Insecurity in the UK, undertaken on behalf of the TUC, 2016-17.
- Non-Standard Contracts and the National Living Wage, led by the University of Greenwich and undertaken on behalf of the Low Pay Commission, 2017.
- New Developments and Trends in Undeclared Work within the Sharing/Collaborative Economy, undertaken on behalf of the European Platform on Undeclared Work, 2017.
- Research examining Greater Manchester’s local economic governance strategies and their implications for young workers, 2018.
- The Practices of Enforcement Bodies in Detecting and Preventing Bogus Self-Employment, undertaken on behalf of the European Platform on Undeclared Work, 2017.
- Exploring the Handling of Discipline and Grievance using WERS2011 and WERS2004, funded by Acas, 2013–14.
- Exploring Conflict Management/Early Dispute Resolution Strategies, funded by Acas, 2013–14.
- Supply chain accounting and employment practices in emerging economies, funded by ESRC, 2013-16
- Developing women’s careers in Japan, funded by the British Academy, 2015-2017
- Work and Employment of Parcel Delivery Workers, funded by the British Academy 2014-16
- GREY, 2013 – 2017. £1.2 million Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships Programme grant - developing the capacity and capability for tackling undeclared work in Bulgaria, Croatia and the FYR Macedonia
- Supporting the transition from informal to formal economy and reducing undeclared work in Greece: identifying drivers and ensuring effective compliance, March 2016 – September 2016, International Labour Organisation
- Strengthening Policy and Capacities to Reduce Undeclared Work in Croatia, September 2016 – September 2017, with German Ministry of Finance and Slovak Republic Ministry of Labour (European Twinning Aid project)