Employment relations, trade unions and employee voice

An important collaborative research stream in the Department of Management involves themes associated with employment relations, trade unions, labour standards, employee voice, workplace democracy.

Members of the group have extensive research expertise in these areas and significant experience of working directly with trade unions and other employment relations practitioners in the UK, Europe and Latin America. Work in this stream encompasses topics such as labour relations and the role of trade unions; sociology of work; employee voice and silence in organizations; democracy at the workplace; how the employment relationship is regulated; the political economy of work and employment. Specific research issues in this stream to date include:

  • Trade unions (including democracy, industrial action, organising, partnership, purpose, social media, and young workers)
  • Sociology of work (including conflict and cooperation at work, alternative forms of employee voice and workplace democracy)
  • Contemporary issues in employment relations (including employment and skills in labour markets, low pay, the living wage, and the gig economy)
  • Regulation and governance in employment relations (including employment regulation and global labour governance) 

Research outputs

The expert team at Birmingham have published widely in high quality employment relations, sociology, HR and management related journals. These include: British Journal of Industrial Relations; British Journal of Management; Economic and Industrial Democracy; Journal of Business Ethics; Human Relations; Human Resource Management; Human Resource Management Journal; Industrial Relations Journal; International Journal of Human Resource Management; New Technology, Work and Employment; Work & Occupations; Work Employment & Society. 

Selected research outputs:

Umney, C. and CoderreLaPalme, G. (2017) ‘Blocked and New Frontiers for Trade Unions: Contesting 'the Meaning of Work' in the Creative and Caring Sectors’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 55 (4): 859-878.

G. Coderre-LaPalme and Greer, I. (2018) 'Dependence on a hostile state: UK trade unions before and after Brexit’ in S. Lehndorff, H. Dribbusch and T. Schulten (eds.) 'Rough waters: European trade unions in a time of crises’, 245-270, ETUI Brussels.

Dobbins, T. and Dundon, T. (2017) ‘The chimera of sustainable labour-management partnership’, British Journal of Management, 28(3): 519-533.

Dobbins, T., with Dundon, T., Hickland, E., Cullinane, N. and Donaghey, J. (2014), ‘Employer occupation of regulatory space for the Employee Information and Consultation (I&C) Directive in Liberal Market Economies’, Work Employment and Society, 28(1):21-39. 

Hodder, A. and Kretsos, L. (eds.) (2015) Young Workers and Trade Unions: A Global View, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.

Hodder, A., Williams, M., Kelly, J. and McCarthy, N. (2017) ‘Does strike action stimulate trade union membership growth?’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 55 (1): 165-186 

Hopkins, B. and Dawson, C. (2016) ‘Migrant Workers and Involuntary Non-Permanent Jobs: Agencies as New IR Actors?’, Industrial Relations Journal, 47 (2)

Hopkins, B. (2015) ‘Occupational Health and Safety of Temporary and Agency Workers’, Economic and Industrial Democracy, 38 (4)

Harvey, G., Turnbull, P., and Wintersberger, D. (2018) ‘Speaking of Contradiction’, Work, Employment and Society, DOI: 0950017018759204.

Wood A.J, Graham M, Lehdonvirta V, Hjorth I (2019) Good gig, bad gig: autonomy and algorithmic control in the global gig economy. Work, Employment and Society 33(1): 56-75  

Wood A.J (2016) Flexible scheduling, the degradation of job quality and barriers to collective voice. Human Relations 69(10): 1989-2010 

Members have also been quoted in a range of media, including:  BBC, The Conversation, The Guardian, i newspaper, Canada Globe and Mail, as well as engaging in various knowledge exchange events with practitioners, policy-makers, and other academics. 

If any unions or employment relations actors want to work with us, please contact us below. 

Lead contacts

Dr Genevieve Coderre-LaPalme

Genevieve Coderre-LaPalme


Professor Tony Dobbins


View Tony's profile

Dr Andy Hodder

Andy Hodder

View Andy's profile

Dr Benjamin Hopkins

B. Hopkins

View Benjamin's profile

Dr Daniel Wintersberger 

Daniel Wintersberger

View Daniel's profile

Dr Alex Wood 

Alexander Wood