ESRC-Funded Seminar Series Announced

The HRMWE subject group at Newcastle University Business School is pleased to announce that several of our group members, in collaboration with researchers from Monash University and the University of Strathclyde, have succeeded in securing funding from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) to host a series of six seminars.

The title of the series is ‘Regulation of Work and Employment: Towards a Multidisciplinary, Multilevel Framework.’ The first seminar will take place early in 2014 at Newcastle University, where two more seminars in this series will be held in 2015. Other seminars will be held at the University of Strathclyde (2x), and at Monash University Prato Centre in Italy (1x).



Work and employment remain a central concern to people’s livelihoods, wellbeing and identities. It is not always obvious however, how the terms, nature and quality of work and employment are determined. This series will aim to address the complexities and dynamics of the forces that give rise to patterns of regulation at all regulatory levels.

Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers with different backgrounds and interested the field of work and employment regulations, this series will contribute to developing an understanding of the issues faced in this field. In doing so, it will inform policies, strategies and practices of government, business and unions.

HRMWE researcher Dr. Jenny Rodriguez is the principal investigator and coordinator of the series, with support from co-investigators Dr. Tracy Scurry, Dr. Stewart Johnstone, Professor Stephen Hughes, Professor Greg Bamber (Monash University, AU) and Professor Robert Paul Stewart (University of Strathclyde).

The current outline of the seminar series can be found below. Please note that the dates are subject to change; exact dates will be announced at a later stage, as will keynote speakers and presenters.





Competing Approaches to the Regulation of Work and Employment

Newcastle University

Jan/Feb 2014

Workplace Regulation: HRM and IR Issues

University of Strathclyde

April/May 2014

International Regulation

Monash University Prato Centre

Sept 2014

Regulation and the Individual Experience of Work

Newcastle University

Feb/March 2015

Regulation and the Firm

Newcastle University

June/July 2015

The Future of Regulation

University of Strathclyde

Sept 2015

‘Have British Workers Lost Their Voice?’

06/08/2013; By dr Stewart Johnstone, lecturer in Human Resource Management and researcher at the Human Resource Management, Work and Employment (HRMWE) subject group at Newcastle University Business School.

“My research is broadly concerned with the management of work and people, and past research has examined a range of HR and employment relations issues.   However, one of my core interests is the notion of employee voice.  Put simply, employee voice is concerned with workers having a say and input into organisational decision-making.  For employers, interest in employee voice might be driven by a belief that it makes good business sense to capture the ideas and knowledge which resides within the heads of everyone working within their organisation.  For employees, having an opportunity to express opinions and ideas can potentially make work more interesting and satisfying, as well as providing a chance to improve the overall experience of work.  A central assumption is that both employers and employees stand to benefit from giving workers a voice.”

“Traditionally, employee voice was synonymous with trade unions negotiating terms and conditions of employment, and perhaps given this focus, the default relationships between unions and management were assumed to be hostile.  However, over the last ten years, I have conducted extensive research exploring the concept of ‘partnership’ between employers and trade unions, where employers and unions commit to work together and engage in dialogue regarding a wide range of issues for the overall benefit of the business.  Much of this has involved case studies of employment relations in the UK financial service sector.  The central idea of partnership is that both sides work together to increase the size of the overall pie as well as fighting over the size of their slices.  However, many organisations, especially in the private sector, no longer recognise trade unions and as such  some of my research has also explored other options for collective employee representation such as in-house ‘staff councils’ and ‘employee forums’.  While in many European nations consultation with employees over workplace and business issues is a normal part of workplace life, the UK has often seemed to lag behind in this regard leading to concerns that British workers have lost their voice.  I have written a range of articles on these themes, I am currently editing a book ‘Finding a Voice: Employee Representation in the New Workplace’ which will be published by Oxford University Press next year (2014).”

“Current research, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, continues this line of enquiry by exploring the dynamics of workplace relations in tough economic times, with a particular focus on issues of employee voice and employee engagement in light of the global financial crisis.  I’m particularly interested in finding out more about how periods of crisis affect workforce relations: can crisis actually bring an organisation closer together, or does it inevitably have a negative impact on employee engagement and voice?”

Stewart is Lecturer in HRM at Newcastle University Business School.  Prior to this he was on the faculty in the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. His research and teaching interests traverse human resource management and employment relations. Recent projects have examined various issues concerned with the management of work and people.