Centre for Employment Studies Research (CESR)
CESR Review: May 2009
Articles by CESR members:
Anthony Fenley, CESR
Article: The growth in drug testing and the issues surrounding it have elevated the activity into a key consideration when examining modern working and employment relationships. This is especially true in the context of sport where glaring publicity has attached itself to the testing phenomena in the wake of sporting authorities’ goals of maintaining the integrity of their respective sports. This high profile appears to apply not only to drugs as a mode of performance enhancement, but also to the recreational use of drugs where laws are transgressed, and the reputation of sports personalities as role models breached.
Catherine Fletcher, CESR
Article: In April 2008 one of the key questions regarding the purpose of the social dimension of the European Union, or Social Europe, was whether it was fit for globalisation. The extensive study published with this title by Ian Begg et al. (2008) examined the effects of globalisation for the losers as well as the winners. Underlying this is the question of whether the EU and its social dimension was perceived as an agent or a barrier to economic globalisation, at a time when there was widespread consensus amongst policy-makers in governments in western Europe that deregulation of world markets would be accompanied by increased prosperity. One of the conclusions of the report was that fears that the European social model was under threat were largely unfounded and that there was no compelling evidence that globalisation is leading inexorably to a ‘race to the bottom’ in social policy, or in the capacity of European society to maintain its commitments to solidarity and equality. At the same time, there is an increasing body of work which critiques the lack of balance between free market capitalism on the one hand and collective interests on the other, in the form of the state at national or supranational level, along with organised labour represented by trades unions at both levels.
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Diannah Lowry, CESR
Article: Mobile working has been investigated in various ways and a body of work is emerging on the social aspects of mobile communication technologies. What has been more or less absent is a consideration of ethics, technology and work, and in particular, mobile work. Mobile work as referred to in this paper involves the act of working in various ‘clusters in plural workscapes’. Workscapes are comprised of the total network of workstations (the immediate locations such as a desk or a seat in a train within which work tasks are conducted) and workplaces (physical constructions that contain and support one or more workstations). The collective office, working from home, and working ‘on the move’ form clusters in various combinations which are incorporated into workscapes. A fundamental facilitator of the changed nature of workscapes are mobile technologies, and an exploration of any possible ethical problems of work-related mobile technologies thus forms the basis of this paper.
Nick Wilton, CESR
Article: In the UK, the proportion of couples with dependent children where both partners were in work increased from 57 per cent to 66 per cent between 1994/5 and 2005/6 and looks set to continue to rise. The imperative for both men and women to manage the competing demands of work and personal life is of growing concern, not only for those involved but also for policymakers and employers. In particular, this demographic trend presents a significant challenge for management in the recruitment, motivation and retention of those employees who are attempting to balance the competing commitments of work and non-work, particularly women who typically take greater responsibility for childcare. This article outlines examples of both good and bad practice to discuss how organisations can effectively support employees in the process of family-building, should they choose to do so. It draws on research into the impact of partnership and family-building on the career aspirations, expectations and orientations among female graduates working across a range of occupations and industry sectors. The data drawn upon in this paper were collected as part of a longitudinal programme of research concerned with exploring the impact of higher education expansion on graduate career outcomes . Primarily, it discusses the findings derived from the interview data collected in the interviews with 1995 graduates conducted seven and ten years after graduation in 2002/03 and 2005/06.
Nick Wylie, CESR
Article: The ongoing attempt to uncover and measure the effect of HRM practices upon organisational performance has been described as the ‘Holy Grail’ of HRM research. The HRM-performance literature has been able to claim a great deal of success in establishing the value of a system of HRM practices although it is perhaps more accurate say that the evidence is mixed. Critics of this literature have pointed to a number of methodological limitations associated with the use of large scale surveys and quantitative analysis and also the lack of a coherent theory about the mechanism through which the HRM-performance relationship functions; often referred to as the ‘black-box’ issue. Implicit within the HRM-performance literature is the notion that the forerunner of improved organisational performance is improved individual performance and so it is the ability of HRM practices to impact upon this that is contained within the black-box. However, despite its importance to the meta-level HRM-performance relationship, there have been very few attempts to engage directly with the nature of individual performance.
Tracy Wilcox, School of Organisation and Management, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Article: How do HR practitioners maintain their legitimacy in the face of changing organisational priorities and agendas? In this brief article I draw on a recent research project which specifically examined the issue of human resource management legitimacy. HR is unlike other functions such as accounting or finance, whose importance to an organisation is underscored by legal requirements and conventions, or sales or operations functions, whose place in the value-chain is taken for granted. HR managers, by contrast, must rely on the ongoing support of other constituencies to demonstrate their worth as a service function. Although employment laws can shape people management practices, organisations do not need a HR department, or HR professionals, in order to comply with these laws.
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An interview with Chris Harries of the Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF) by
Stephanie Tailby, CESR
Interview: The banking crisis, as it intensified in September 2008, sent stock markets crashing and plunged countries around the world into synchronised economic recession. Governments have been obliged to intervene. Eye watering sums of (tax payers’) money have been diverted to the project of recapitalising the banks, in particular in the UK and America. Interest rates have been cut and fiscal stimuli (on varying scales) have been applied in efforts to invigorate demand and restore business confidence. Whether the interventions will be sufficient to avert an economic downturn of 1930s proportions remains to be seen. Stock markets have bounced back; at the beginning of May this year they were reported to be bullish. Green shoots of other varieties have been sighted; the service sector survey suggests companies in emerging markets and some European countries are more confident now than six months previously that business volume will improve in the coming year. However, optimism is far from universal.
Report: The Centre for Employment Studies Research held a second one-day research seminar on 15 October 2008. This time the focus was on the gendered workplace and the audience was drawn from academics and practitioners based in the South West of England. Six papers were presented, addressing part time women managers, pregnant women workers, women entrepreneurs, sex workers, women in construction and flexible working. This report summarises the findings of each paper and draws out emergent themes.
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