Tony’s main research interests in work and employment relations include: employee voice, silence, and industrial democracy (including the role of trade unions, management-labour cooperation); the sociology of work, including industrial relations frames of reference; regulation of employment (expertise in European employment relations, EU and UK employment regulation – notably on employee information & consultation at work); the impact of economic restructuring on skills and employment in labour markets, including redundancies/downsizing; the real living wage, including in UK football clubs; decent work/good jobs; the future of work, including research with the UK Parliament (Parliamentary Academic Fellow), the impact of Covid on the future of work, new digital social media technologies and work relations. Tony is a member of collaborative international research groups with some of the leading scholars in the field of HRM, Work and Employment from across the world. Current/ongoing research projects/networks:
i) Employee Voice/Information and Consultation of Employees/Organisational Silence: Collaborative Irish Research Council (IRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) research project since 2008 on employee information and consultation/employee voice provisions on the island of Ireland. Tony is part of a team of researchers from Ireland, the UK and beyond, which includes:
Prof. Tony Dundon (University of Limerick, Ireland/University of Manchester, UK);
Prof. Jimmy Donaghey (University of New South Wales, Australia);
Prof. Adrian Wilkinson (Griffith University, Australia);
Dr. Niall Cullinane (Queens University Belfast, UK);
Dr. Eugene Hickland (Dublin City University, Ireland).
The team publish numerous articles in many of the top journals in the area of HRM, Work and Employment on an ongoing basis. Some of the work is summarised in an impact case published in 2020 by University of Limerick, Republic of Ireland: “Who speaks for whom at work: worker voice and social dialogue”. https://www.ul.ie/research/who-speaks-whom-work-worker-voice-and-social-dialogue
ii) Industrial and economic democracy: In addition to the above, Tony has research interests in labour-management cooperation, trade union recognition.
iii) The Real Living Wage: Tony is collaborating with Prof. Peter Prowse (Sheffield Hallam Business School, UK) on grant funded research on the living wage, low pay, including in UK professional football clubs. This includes a case study of the real living wage at Luton Town Football Club. They edited a new book on the living wage around the world, published by Routledge in 2021. Tony also recently began a research project with Dr. Jonathan Lavelle and colleagues at the University of Limerick, Ireland, on the living wage in Ireland. Initially, this will involve interviewing key stakeholders about the Irish living wage.
iv) The Future of Work: Tony is involved in a number of new research initiatives relating to the futures of work:
One element includes his appointment as an ESRC IAA funded Parliamentary Academic Fellow with the UK Parliament, ‘Post COVID-19 policies for the future of work and employment’, (July 1st 2021-June 30th 2022). This has generated two research briefing papers for UK Parliament.
Another aspect includes editing a Special Issue in the Industrial Relations (Berkeley) journal, ‘Comparative Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis on Work and Employment’, with the following co-editors: Dr. Stewart Johnstone, University of Strathclyde, UK; Dr. Marta Kahancová, Central European Labour Studies Institute, Slovakia; Dr. Ryan Lamare, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA; Prof. Adrian Wilkinson, Griffith University, Australia.
Another new future of work research project involves collaborative research with Siemens on the topic of ‘Employee-led flexible working at Siemens’, involving colleagues at University of Birmingham (Dr Dan Wheatley, Dr. Ben Hopkins, Prof. Matthew Broome, Dr Owen Powell, and HR contacts at Siemens UK. (June 2021-May 2022 and possibly ongoing). A report for the project was published/sent to Siemens: ‘Well-being, Remote Working and Employee-led Flexibility at Siemens Plc: Informing the Post-Covid-19 Era’.
Tony is also involved in a collaboration from 2021 relating to work experiences during Covid, ‘The ‘autonomy paradox’ facing knowledge professionals WFH during Covid’, with the following co-authors: Dr. Neve Abgeller (University of Birmingham, UK); Prof. Reinhard Bachmann (SOAS, University of London, UK); Prof. Deirdre Anderson (Cranfield University, UK). An article has been accepted in Economic and Industrial Democracy.
Finally, together with Dr Xuebing Cao and Dr Will Foster (both at Keele Business School, UK),Tony is involved in projects relating to decent work in the Midlands. The first is project on ‘Decent work in time of Covid: policy implications and challenges for the Midlands’ in 2021/22. The project explores the decent work policy implications and challenges for the English Midlands region in response to the current coronavirus crisis by creating novel opportunities for a better understanding of the perspectives of key stakeholders in the region on decent work policy development. The project has been awarded a Research England Strategic Priorities QR Grant of £13,723.58.
The second is a UKRI Research England Policy Support Fund, Midlands Good Work Charter: advancing employment policy and regional innovation in post-Covid Midlands, (funding £11,480.27). PI: Dr Xuebing (Jack) Cao, Co-Is: Professor Will Foster (Keele) and Professor Tony Dobbins (Birmingham). March – July 2022. The outputs will be to (1) support Acas to launch a Midland Good Work Charter, (2) help the Good Work Charter new webpage, and (3) hold other Good Work charter activities such as interviews and meetings.
v) The sociology of work: research in this area focuses on industrial relations frames of reference on workplace conflict and resistance. Tony has supervised PhD research on the comparative contexts of labour disputes in the UK (London Underground) and the Republic of Ireland (Dublin Bus), and this collaboration continues as one of his former PhD students Emma Hughes is now a Lecturer in HRM at University of Liverpool Management School, UK.
Tony is also collaborating in research on social media use, managerial surveillance and employee sousveillance and resistance, with Claire Taylor at Sheffield Business School, UK, and an article has been published in New, Technology Work and Employment.
vi) Impact of economic restructuring on employment/redundancies and skills in the labour market: The main aspect of this research comprises ongoing interdisciplinary research project with Dr. Alexandra Plows, from social sciences at Bangor University, now employed by the Welsh Government. It includes examining the labour market impact of economic restructuring and redundancies in industries like aluminium manufacture and nuclear power generation on workforces and the sustainability of local communities in North Wales. This project is contributing to wider impact – notably advancing understanding, and links with stakeholders, about the regional impact of labour market restructuring. In particular, what are the labour market experiences/trajectories of workers made redundant? What interventions are required to improve matching of supply and demand in labour markets?
This has generated in three publications in journals – most recently an article has been published in Regional Studies.
Another element of this research agenda is restructuring, redundancies and downsizing with Prof. Adrian Wilkinson (Griffith University, Australia), and Dr. Stewart Johnstone (University of Strathclyde).
vii) European industrial relations and working conditions (European Observatory of Working Life, EurWORK), restructuring and management of change (European Monitoring Centre on Change, EMCC), quality of life (European Observatory on Quality of Life (EurLIFE). Tony has been involved with this European Commission funded EU-wide comparative research network project with Industrial Relations News in various capacities since 1998. He has submitted numerous research reports and provided information reporting services on: quality of work and employment, industrial relations, and restructuring and management of change. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin. European Commission DG V (www.eurofound.ie).
Grant capture and international research consultancy
Tony has a track record of applying for and attracting grant funding from a wide variety of bodies for multiple research projects, including as Principal Investigator.
· Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account funding for Parliamentary Academic Fellow (2021-2022). £7414.
· Siemens Workplace Wellbeing project. £37,527.67. Industry funded, Siemens. Awarded June 2021 (2021-2022).
- British Academy/Leverhulme Trust small grant, £9,981 (2019-2022): The ethics of living wages for low-paid staff in UK professional football clubs. Awarded March 2019. Principal Investigator.
- UKRI Research England Policy Support Fund, Midlands Good Work Charter: advancing employment policy and regional innovation in post-Covid Midlands, (£11,480.27). PI: Dr Xuebing (Jack) Cao, Co-Is: Professor Will Foster (Keele) and Professor Tony Dobbins (Birmingham). March-July 2022. Awarded March 2022.
· ‘Decent work in time of Covid: policy implications and challenges for the Midlands’. Awarded a Research England (UKRI) Strategic Priorities QR Grant of £13,723.58. Co-Investigator (Awarded November 2020).
- ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), £13,875 (with Alex Plows, Social Sciences) for ‘Labour Market Summit II’. Awarded December 2015. Co-Investigator.
- British Academy/Leverhulme Trust small grant, £10,000 (2014-2016): Anticipatory responses to plant closure and redundancy in the Welsh nuclear power industry. Awarded June 2013. Principal Investigator.
- €1,500,000 (1998-current): European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin. European Commission DG V. Sub-contractor/Co-investigator. https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/
Framework contract for provision of scheduled and on-request reporting services – Network of Eurofound Correspondents – Ireland: industrial relations and working conditions (European Observatory of Working Life, EurWORK), restructuring and management of change (European Monitoring Centre on Change, EMCC), quality of life (European Observatory on Quality of Life (EurLIFE). I have been centrally involved in this EU-funded project for over 20 years, with Industrial Relations News, Ireland. Six successive four-year competitive tender contracts have been won. The previous tender awarded in 2018 is worth €246,000 (for the period 2019-2022: https://ted.europa.eu/TED/notice/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:141514-2018:HTML:EN:HTML&tabId=1&tabLang=en)
- €4000 (2008-2012): Research consultancy work for writing and subsequently updating ‘A Guide to Employment Law in Ireland,’ XPertHR European Employment Review.
- €3000 (2009): Research consultancy work for writing ‘The Global Labour Challenge: collective bargaining outcomes and prospects in key world economies’. Brussels European Employee Relations Consultants and HR Policy Association.
- €3000 (2009): Research consultancy work for interviewing stakeholders and writing: ‘The Print Industry Fights Back: the story of Ireland’s Print & Packaging Forum’. The National Centre for Partnership and Performance, Department of the Taoiseach, Dublin, Ireland.
- €5,132 (2008-2009): Research consultancy work on Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) project on ‘Line managers as a resource for change and innovation’. National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), Department of the Taoiseach, Dublin, Ireland.