Centre for Employment Studies Research

CESR Review: December 2009

Articles by CESR members:

SET Women and Careers: A case study of senior female scientists in the UK , Dr Sue Durbin, CESR

Article: This short article is an overview of case study research conducted in 2008 with thirteen female senior scientists in a UK, public sector organisation, referred to throughout as Scienceorg, a global research institution offering services to government and commercial organisations. Scienceorg is a male dominated organisation with a total headcount of nineteen hundred, women representing just one fifth of all senior mangers, ranging from Heads of Department to Senior Project Managers. 


The Management of Employee Relations: The illusion of Neo-Pluralism, Anthony Fenley, CESR

Article: The management of employee relations is, typically, informed by theory – explicitly or implicitly. And of the many theories, or perspectives, available to inform practice, Neo-Pluralism has, traditionally, been the most commonly adopted one. This does not, however, make it the best one, merely the dominant one. The objective of this short article, then, is to introduce Neo-Pluralism, consider its weaknesses, and develop an alternative, all of which should serve to stimulate debate about the strengths and weaknesses of Neo-Pluralism.

Commitment and Citizenship Behaviour in a Public Private Initiative? Thor Indridason, CESR, and Catherine L. Wang, RHUL

Article: Commitment to the employing organisation used to be seen as the distinctive quality of a good worker. While this may still be the case, employee commitment can no longer be taken for granted, particularly with the emergence of triangular or inter-organisational employment relationships where a third party is involved as an employing and/or managing organisation.

In this article we explore a unique, new form of employment relationships entailed in the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) between a National Health Service (NHS) Trust hospital (hereafter the Hospital) and a private consortium.

The ‘other side’ of management discourse, Stella Maile, CESR

Article: I have previously written on ways in which managerial strategies and discourses were deployed in local authorities as part of their organisational restructuring programmes. Local Authority professionals would draw upon their own members’ resources to interpret and deploy managerial discourses in a way that was in-keeping with their previously held, but ambiguous, values of public service. This sometimes had the unintentional consequence of contributing to privatisation of former welfare and municipal services. Ultimately, the strategic deployment and collocations of politically and socially ambiguous vocabularies, in addition to organisational rationalisations, facilitated a process by which professional identifications with an earlier post-war settlement that informed the work of local authorities, became subsumed by the managerial discourses of a neo-liberal agenda.

Investing in The Future: The essential role of student placements, John Neugebauer, CESR

Article: 2009 is the first year cohort of graduation for those who have paid higher tuition fees. At the CBI/University Conference, Stronger Together, held on 20 October 2009, Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills said that it follows that students who pay more [for higher education] will expect to receive more, and to achieve more as a result of their higher education experience. But for many, the reality may feel, and indeed be, very different. Unemployment for younger people to age 24 rose by 32 per cent in the first quarter of 2009, and accounts for 30.5 per cent of all UK unemployment. Even for those who have ‘invested’ in higher education, expectations are rising all the time too. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, postgraduate degree holders are more likely to be in graduate level jobs three and a half years after leaving university (85 per cent), against 56 per cent with a bachelor degree. And despite average student debt in 2008 of £7,800 on graduation, 78 per cent of university careers advisers report a fall in graduate job vacancies. With a renewed focus on the value of higher education, so too is there greater interest expressed in the value of work placements, formal or informal, as part of the higher education experience.

Internal Consultants as Agents of Change, Dr Nick Wylie, CESR

Article: In recent years, management consultancy has grown in importance, both in the form of using external consultants and of organising management functions, such as HR, as internal consultancies. This paper sets out some initial findings of a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that has examined the role of internal consultancies across a range of public and private sector organisations. This research, conducted jointly by Professor Andrew Sturdy of Warwick Business School and Dr Nick Wylie of Bristol Business School, suggests that HR functions face a number of significant challenges if they are to re-frame their key roles and responsibilities as a form of consultancy.

Book review

Cowman, K. (2007) Women of the Right Spirit – Paid Organisers of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) 1904-1918Reviewed by Lin Lovell

In the early Twentieth Century, various groups of women struggled heroically to gain political, social and economic equality. One such group was the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Krista Cowman recently published a book entitled: Paid Organisers of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) 1904-18, as part of the expansion of research into the history of women and gender since the 1970s. The series Gender in History provides a forum for research into women’s and gender history. Cowman’s book attempts to synthesise new approaches using local studies, and extensive use of archival sources, a wide ranging use of secondary literature to explore how the WSPU functioned as a political organisation.


Upchurch, M., Taylor, G. & Mathers, A. (2009) The Crisis of Social Democratic Trade Unionism in Western Europe: The Search for Alternatives Reviewed by Dr Andy Mathers and Dr Graham Taylor

The origins of the book are in earlier research projects that have focused on how unions were responding strategically to the new challenges posed by neoliberal globalisation. Martin Upchurch (with colleagues from UWE) examined the reality of both the ‘organising’ and ‘partnership’ strategies that were emanating from the British TUC. The TUC, in this period, was led by John Monks who was influenced strongly by the strategy of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) of which he later became General Secretary. Graham Taylor and Andy Mathers, meanwhile, were subjecting developments in West European trade unionism to critical scrutiny leading them to conclude that unions possessed two main trajectories: towards an identity of either social partner or social movement. Their work continued by analysing the ETUC itself which, it was argued, could, and indeed should, develop a ‘transnational hybrid identity’ that encompassed the diverse orientations of its nationally based affiliates. However, Andy Mathers found that such an identity was developing more rapidly in the margins of the established labour movement where a diverse array of grass roots networks were mobilising within and across nation states against the social consequences of neoliberalism.


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CESR Links:


Bristol Business School
University of the West of England
Frenchay Campus
Coldharbour Lane
BS16 1QY
Tel +44 (0) 117 328 3435

Email: stella.warren@uwe.ac.uk

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