The Centre for Research on the Economy and the Workplace (CREW) promotes quality research in the area of workplace performance with an emphasis on how human resources are developed an utilised in the context of economic activity that has become increasingly globalised and knowledge based. It has a comparative, international orientation. It critically analyses and contributes to academic and policy debate in these areas. Furthermore, it encourages research on company performance, the role of education, training and lifelong learning in contributing to the development of knowledge and innovation, economic and social institutions and inequality and diversity in the workforce.
Innovation, Skills and the Knowledge Economy
This theme is concerned with analysing knowledge, skills and innovation as drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness, including investment in science and technology as well as human and physical capital and the propensity to reorganise production and the workplace. The relationship between business and innovation systems and the development of learning and innovating capabilities will also be studied under this theme. The research will be carried out at multiple levels, aggregate economies, industries and firms, and will use a range of methodologies and data sources. Aggregate and industry studies will mainly employ secondary data and will be concerned with mapping out the channels through which expenditures on inputs, innovation generating activity and institutions impact on growth. This will be supplemented by quantitative case studies, in which the business is tracked over time, and evidence collected from personnel records; and qualitative case studies based on semi-structured interviews.
International Production and Consumption
This theme will consider the consequences of increased globalisation and outsourcing on business performance, employment, working conditions and worker productivity. This includes examining the knowledge sourcing activities of multinational companies and their relationship to the political economy of innovation. Particular emphasis will be put on research on global value chains. It will include research on the impact of outsourcing on the morale, productivity and retention of workers and the growing pay inequality or insecurity of middle and lower level workers in many developed nations. It will investigate the impact of environmental regulations on international production. This theme will also address issues of ethical consumption as well as consumer waste and disposal behaviour by investigating consumer behaviour and management policy towards recycling, reducing consumption, wasteful behaviour, re-use strategies, energy reduction and fair-trade.
Work, Employment and the Labour Market
This theme will focus on how management structures impact on employment relationships and are impacted upon by the labour market contexts within which public and private sector organisations function. It will explore the relationship between business strategy and the management of individual and organisational performance. This includes the role of pay and reward, work organisation, investment in training and development, the management of work/life balance, forms of employee empowerment and partnerships with trade unions, methods of management selection and the management of careers. Research on the labour market will examine the impact of labour market regulations, for example those relating to the national minimum wage, on employer behaviour in respect of the organisation of production, investment levels and innovation. The causes and implications of changes in the nature of labour demand and supply will also be considered. Work in this area will explore phenomena such as international labour migration, paid and unpaid care work, work in the informal economy, the expansion of low-paid employment and the growth of knowledge-intensive jobs. The research will seek to understand and explain diverse implications of an ageing society in terms of people’s plans for retirement and transitions into and through it. Research under this theme will encourage a better understanding of how local, regional, national and supranational level institutions (including NGOs and multinationals) influence labour market behaviour, investments in human capital and organisations' business strategies.