The Evolution of the Modern Workplace

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The last thirty years have seen the world of work transformed in Britain. Manufacturing and nationalized industries contracted and private services expanded. Employment became more diverse. Trade union membership collapsed. Collective bargaining disappeared from much of the private sector, as did strikes. This was accompanied by the rise of human resource management and new employment practices. The law, once largely absent, increasingly became a dominant influence. The experience of work has become more pressured. The Evolution of the Modern Workplace provides an authoritative account and analysis of these changes and their consequences. Its main source is the five Workplace Employment Relations Surveys that were conducted at roughly five-year intervals between 1980 and 2004. Drawing on this unique source of data, a team of internationally renowned scholars show how the world of the workplace has changed, and why it has changed, for both workers and employers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'At the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, it is an opportune time to ask how and why, in coping with the environmental changes of markets and legal constraints, British employment relations as a species has been transformed in the past quarter century. William Brown and his colleagues have provided a globally relevant and truly insightful picture based on WIRS/WERS.' Takeshi Inagami, University of Tokyo and the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT)

'A pioneering and unprecedented, empirically based and encompassing work by leading scholars and well-known experts on basic changes at the workplace and the fundamental shifts of employment relations in Britain. An absolute must for everybody interested in understanding the extraordinary transformation processes and their far-reaching consequences over the quarter century spanning the Thatcher/Major/Blair years.' Berndt Keller, University of Konstanz

'The Evolution of the Modern Workplace makes excellent use of Britain's workplace surveys to capture the profound changes that have occurred in employment relations since the turbulent 1980s. This will be the standard comparative reference for assessing changes in employment relations yet to come. It is especially timely and valuable, given the likely impacts the global financial crisis will have on employment institutions and outcomes in the years ahead.' Thomas A. Kochan, MIT Institute of Work and Employment Research

'This book provides the most comprehensive analysis of the major changes which have occurred in the British workplace over the past twenty-five years and the implications for work and employment relations in the future. It brings together renowned scholars who have shaped the study of the British workplace and is required reading for all who are interested in this important subject.' Russell Lansbury, University of Sydney, and International Industrial Relations Association

'Workplaces and work have both changed radically in the past three decades. Professor Brown and his colleagues brilliantly chronicle the alterations using successive Workplace Employment Relations Surveys. These include the retreat from collective bargaining, voice, high involvement HRM, contingent pay, upheaval in the public sector and legal regulation. This is the definitive work on the twenty-first-century workplace.' David Metcalf, London School of Economics

'This book sets the international benchmark for studies of the changing workplace. Drawing on a unique data set spanning three decades of workplace surveys, an elite research team interrogates the sources of continuity and change in the study of work and employment in the United Kingdom. This masterful blend of longitudinal data analysis, accessible prose and deep understanding of key human resources, employment law and industrial relations issues generates critical policy and practitioner insights and sets the research agenda for years to come.' Gregor Murray, University of Montreal

'This is a compelling read. Anyone who works in the field of employment relations, whether as an academic, HR specialist, trade unionist or student will find it a marvellous reference source. It is a comprehensive account of the changes that have coursed their way through the workplace in the recent years and points to several potential changes to come. The chapters bring to light the importance of the Workplace Employment Relations Survey - no mean feat! It's an excellent addition to the study of employment relations.' Ed Sweeney, ACAS

'[The Evolution of the Modern Workplace] is full of original and provocative insights: Brown, Bryson and Forth challenge arguments about the impact of globalisation with the finding that it is the intensity of product market competition, rather than its global or international character, which accounts for the decline of collective bargaining coverage in Britain … It covers a wide range of topics, including employee representation, HRM, conflict, equality and diversity, and pay, to name just a few. There is an abundance of data with almost 120 figures and tables, many of which will prove invaluable for lecturers.' John Kelly, Industrial Relations Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107405042
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/19/2012
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

William Brown is the Master of Darwin College and Professor of Industrial Relations at Cambridge University. He was previously Director of the ESRC's Industrial Relations Research Unit at the University of Warwick. He was a foundation member of the Low Pay Commission, which fixes the UK's National Minimum Wage. He is a member of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Panel of Arbitrators, and was an independent member of the ACAS Council. In 2002 he was awarded a CBE for services to employment relations.

Alex Bryson is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. He was previously Research Director at the Policy Studies Institute where he has worked for nineteen years. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Bryson's research focuses on industrial relations and labour economics. Recently he has been applying techniques common in the evaluation literature to problems in industrial relations. He has published his work in many books and journals, including the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Economica, Human Relations, Industrial and Corporate Change, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, the International Journal of Human Resource Management, the Journal of Labor Research and the Scottish Journal of Political Economy. In 2005 he became an editor of the British Journal of Industrial Relations. In 2005–2006 he was the Wertheim Fellow at Harvard Law School and the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2007–2008 he was a member of the Sector Skills Development Agency's Expert Panel.

John Forth is a research fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). He was involved in the design and primary analysis of the 1998 and 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Surveys (WERS).

Keith Whitfield is Professor of Human Resource Management and Economics and Associate Dean for Postgraduate Studies at Cardiff Business School and Director of Cardiff University's Research and Graduate School in the Social Sciences. He was the ESRC's Academic Consultant and member of the Steering Group for the fifth Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS), and is a founding member and on the Steering Group of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Methods and Data.

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Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; List of abbreviations; List of contributors; Preface; 1. Researching the changing workplace William Brown and Paul Edwards; 2. Competition and the retreat from collective bargaining William Brown, Alex Bryson and John Forth; 3. Trade union decline and the economics of the workplace David G. Blanchflower and Alex Bryson; 4. Employee representation Andy Charlwood and John Forth; 5. Voice at the workplace: where do we find it, why is it there and where is it going? Paul Willman, Rafael Gomez and Alex Bryson; 6. From industrial relations to human resource management: the changing role of the personnel function David Guest and Alex Bryson; 7. High involvement management Stephen Wood and Alex Bryson; 8. Conflict at work: the changing pattern of disputes Gill Dix, Keith Sisson and John Forth; 9. Employees' experience of work Francis Green and Keith Whitfield; 10. Equality and diversity at work Andrew Pendleton, Keith Whitfield and Alex Bryson; 11. The changing use of contingent pay at the modern British workplace Shirley Dex and John Forth; 12. Foreign ownership and industrial relations Tony Edwards and Janet Walsh; 13. The public sector in transition Stephen Bach, Rebecca Kolins Givan and John Forth; 14. Legal regulation and the changing workplace Linda Dickens and Mark Hall; 15. Conclusion: the evolutionary process William Brown, Alex Bryson, John Forth and Keith Whitfield; Technical appendix John Forth and Alex Bryson; Bibliography; Index.

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