Industrial Relations Research Unit

Industrial Relations Research Unit 

The Industrial Relations Research Unit (IRRU) is one of the major centres for the study of industrial relations in Europe. Established in 1970, our Advisory Committee includes senior officials from the Government, TUC and Acas, employer organisations and senior external academics.

Our objectives

  • Understand industrial relations, employment and human resource management through interdisciplinary research
  • Use high-quality data analysis to inform policy-making among public administrators, employers and trade unions
  • Influence academic and policy debate on national and international stages
  • Contribute to research-led industrial relations, employment and human resource management teaching within WBS.

Our five decades of empirical research and theoretical reflection on the ever-changing world of work has led to two robust propositions that characterise our approach. First, the dynamic, undetermined nature of employment constrains work and employment strategies and, in particular, unilateral ones. Second, the labour market is affected by people’s agency and its governance has major societal, economic and political implications.

Our research can be grouped into three main areas of investigation:

Employment relations strategy, including research on:

  • Employee voice, skills and high-performance works systems
  • Contemporary collective conflict
  • Care work, healthcare and workers’ health and safety
  • Employee board participation effects on pay policies and CEO remuneration
  • Indicators of HR practices for the financial market
  • Representation strategies of precarious workers
  • Varieties of wage setting mechanisms in the Eurozone
  • Responses to the national living wage in SMEs.

Globalisation and work, including research on:

  • Labour market regulations and management of labour migration
  • Employee voice and health and safety in the global garment industry
  • Employee responses to relocation of production
  • Transfer of employment practices in multinational companies
  • EU employment policies on flexibility, security and inclusion.
  • EU-level sectoral social dialogue.

Equality and diversity, including research on:

  • Collective bargaining and equality
  • Collective management practices, the arts and the criminal justice sector
  • Sector differences in gender pay gap reporting
  • Employee equality representatives
  • Disabled workers
  • Migrant labour and modern slavery

Until 2021, IRRU, in collaboration with Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research, established the UK-wide national centre for the EU observatory, EurWORK, looking at industrial relations, working conditions and restructuring, supplying features and reports on national development, and thematic comparative analysis. Articles contributed by members of the IRRU to EurWork include:

Co-Directors of the IRRU: Deborah Dean and Manuela Galetto


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