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Work and Equalities Institute

The agenda of the Work and Equalities Institute is to identify and promote the conditions for more inclusive and fair work and employment arrangements.

The Institute will develop world-leading interdisciplinary research, focused around four key themes: business transformation and work futures, fair treatment at work, inequalities and the life course, and regulation and representation.

This research will be used in knowledge exchange, dialogue and debate with key stakeholders and policymakers, and to make informed contributions to policy formation and the development of practice. To achieve this, the Institute will draw on advice from an advisory board of policymakers and practitioners with local, national and international expertise.  

The Institute brings together two internationally-recognised Alliance Manchester Business School research centres (European Work and Employment Research Centre and Fairness at Work Research Centre) with international expertise across human resource management, industrial relations, labour economics, organisational psychology, employment law, technology, organisation studies, sociology and social statistics.  

The team uses a range of methods to investigate their research questions, including international institutional and comparative analysis, organisational case studies and qualitative interviews, and surveys and quantitative data analysis.

Why a new Institute on work and equalities at Manchester?

New thinking on how to address the challenges posed by changes in work, employment and equalities is urgently needed. The Work and Equalities Institute’s research agenda will develop new interdisciplinary approaches to addressing core policy and intellectual challenges.

Professor Colette Fagan, Vice President for Research at The University of Manchester, comments: “The WEI team have a world class track record of informing the evidence-base and policy agenda of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the United Nations’ International Labour Office, as well as national organisations such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the TUC, built over more than 25 years of engagement in this arena.

“They also have an excellent track record of supervision of doctoral students and launching early career researchers onto successful careers as academics or researchers and policy makers in other sectors. I am confident that our new Institute will build on the strengths of these foundations, and will make a significant impact to knowledge and policy solutions in relation to the quality, organisation, innovation, and fair distribution of work and employment.”

The Institute’s research will range from the local to the global and build on the already strong connections with important national and international policy bodies. Its work and employment inequalities will be an important contributor to the University of Manchester’s global inequalities research beacon.

Professor Jill Rubery

Most of the inequalities that one observes, from health and education to poverty and exclusion are influenced by labour market factors but employment conditions are themselves shaped by patterns of inequality. The new institute will therefore consider equalities issues as integral and central to understanding work and employment arrangements.

— Professor Jill Rubery, Alliance Manchester Business School

Steering group members

Jill Rubery

Jill Rubery >>
Director

Damian Grimshaw

Damian Grimshaw >>
Deputy-Director

Debra Howcroft

Debra Howcroft >>
Deputy-Director

Miguel Martinez Lucio

Miguel Martinez Lucio >>
Coordinator for doctoral and early career development

Tony Dundon

Tony Dundon >>
Coordinator for publication and dissemination

Helge Hoel

Helge Hoel >>
Coordinator for policy advisory group and research themes leader

Aristea Koudiadaki

Aristea Koukiadaki >>
Research themes leader

Sheena Johnson

Sheena Johnson >>
Research themes leader

Stephen Mutschin

Stephen Mustchin >>
Research themes leader

Mat Johnson

Mat Johnson
Research staff representative

Jenny K Rodriguez

Jenny Rodriguez >>
Seminar series coordinator

Research themes

Our four research themes explore key issues in work and equalities research:

Major transformations are taking place in the organisation of both businesses and work that are reconfiguring work futures. Advanced ICTs, high-performance employment systems, extensive sourcing through global value chains, e-retailing and financialised ownership structures have potentially serious implications for employment security and job quality.  This research theme will investigate these overlapping business transformations and how they are both shaped by and challenge national institutional arrangements for work and employment, with the aim of contributing to new thinking for policy and practice to support a more equal experience of quality work in all regions of the world.

The notion that people should be entitled to fair treatment at work commands widespread agreement but how this translates into practice is far more controversial. Not only are there  debates over what the  level of employment standards  and opportunities for  employee voice should be but there are also increasing risks  that  employment standards will not be enforced, particularly for those  on non-standard employment contracts.   This theme focuses on three main areas:  the first is  the extent of inequalities in fair treatment at work particularly for  those  with protected characteristics under equality legislation; the second is the relationship between fair treatment at work and stress and wellbeing; and the third is  the challenges of improving fair treatment through interventions whether from new legal measures or through  voluntary actions on labour/management standards,  organisational capacity building and participative job redesign.

Inequalities in work and employment lie at the heart of wider trends towards inequality and poverty and deserve attention in their own right. This theme extends the  analysis by  considering how inequalities change or are reinforced across the life course, how changing life courses are interacting with developments in work and employment, for example towards precarious work, and on how social and employment policy can reduce or exacerbate inequalities across the life course and for different groups. Particular attention will be paid to how employers are responding to the increasingly diverse workforce, reflecting varied life courses, care responsibilities, careers, skills and employability and how these responses are enabling or inhibiting flexible career paths.

Major debates are taking place on the role of employment regulation and representation in a context of work fragmentation and globalisation, tensions between state intervention and corporate self-regulation and amidst rising problems of social inclusion and inequality and  labour market migration. This theme investigates the theory, policy and practice of regulation and representation, and considers the need for new approaches  to “re”-regulation, including  new initiatives on enforcement, that move the debate beyond the binaries of regulation versus deregulation. Multi-level forces are needed that combine the various stakeholders, agents and market institutions in new forms of regulation at both a macro and a micro level. Examples could include new forms of voice and new approaches to labour standards of multinational enterprises and supplier network firms.

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