Research themes

The research conducted by the Centre for Decent Work (CDW) focuses on four themes: Employment and Job Quality, Equality, Inclusion and Voice, Labour in the Global Economy, and Regulation and Governance of Work.


Employment and Job Quality

Work under this theme is concerned with: (i) enhancing understanding of workers’ labour market and occupational mobility, focusing in particular on the labour market transitions of young workers, the factors that influence the ability of workers to progress from ‘bad’ to ‘better’ jobs, and the ways in which the labour market experiences of workers when they are young affect their longer-term labour market experiences, earnings, health and wellbeing; (ii) the growth in forms of work that involve low pay and working time uncertainty and their objective and subjective consequences for workers; (iii) underemployment and bogus self-employment; (iv) the linkages between employment, work organisation and productivity; (v) and work in the informal economy.

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 workers (and particularly marginalised workers); (iv) building ‘inclusive’ organisations; and (v) support for working carers.

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 (building on an interdisciplinary ESRC-funded project that 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.

Regulation and Governance of Work

Work under this theme explores regulatory and governance processes and outcomes at different scales, from workplace through to the international level. Specific areas of research interest are: (i) public administration activities relating to work and employment (‘labour administration’) in different countries and its role in promoting effective governance and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; (ii) government policies and stakeholder actions relating to the informal economy, focusing in particular on interventions and outcomes in the European Union; (iii) methods of conflict resolution at the level of the workplace.

In addition to advancing knowledge in these and other areas, CDW is committed to communicating our work to policymaking and practitioner communities and engaging and working with them with the aim of making improvements in the world of work.