A Quarter Century of Change at the Workplace


September 2006 to April 2008

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims

Background and Aims

The study examines changes in key areas of British employment relations as depicted by the Workplace Industrial Relations Surveys 1980-2004. The aim is to map and explain the changing contours of employment relations over the period.

Project Design

The project will be directed and coordinated by the three principal investigators: Keith Whitfield ( Cardiff Business School), Alex Bryson (PSI) and John Forth (NIESR). They will be investigating core themes in employment relations such as change in the management of personnel/HRM, union membership, union representation, employee voice mechanisms, payment systems, pay structures, industrial action and the impact of unions on the workplace. The study will also involve representatives of the policy-making and practitioner community in the design and development of the project and in interpreting the analyses undertaken, and a group of researchers who have broad experience of investigating key areas of employment relations in Britain and overseas. Interim findings will be presented at a seminar half way through the project. The principal output of the project will be a volume edited by the three main investigators.

Importance of Research

The study uses the most authoritative data sources in British industrial relations to track changes during in Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the years under New Labour. It therefore offers a unique opportunity to understand change in employment relations over a period in which the industrial, employment and policy landscape have been transformed.