Skip to main content

Employment Research Unit

We aim to coordinate and develop employment relations and human resource management research.

The Employment Research Unit (ERU) aims to coordinate and develop employment relations, industrial relations and human resource management (HRM) research.

This includes organising research seminars and conferences, supporting PhD students, conducting joint research projects, managing the Montague Burton Visiting Fellowship and developing joint funding proposals.

ERU is based within the Management, Employment and Organisations section of Cardiff Business School, but also includes researchers with an interest in human resource management and employment relations from other areas.

Since 2017, ERU has been a member of the CRIMT (Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalisation and Work) network. ERU is also a participant in the CRIMT ‘Experimentation in Better Work’ project.

PhD studies

ERU is a warm and supportive home for our PhD students, who participate fully in ERU activities. We welcome applications from PhD candidates in the broad areas of employment relations and HRM, including but not limited to:

  • trade unions and employers’ organisations
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • disability
  • decent work
  • labour rights and modern slavery
  • the future of work
  • corporate governance and employment
  • living Wage
  • arbitration and dispute resolution
  • new industrial relations actors
  • skills development


Operationalising Labour Rights ESRC GCRF Project

Jean Jenkins, Rhys Davies, Helen Blakely, Catriona Dickson

This is an international research project funded by the ESRC under the remit of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). It is a collaboration between researchers at Cardiff Business School and WISERD and our partners at Cividep-India.

The research is distinctive in being a longitudinal, workplace-centred study of access to remedy at the grassroots of the labour-intensive value chain in garments. The project commenced in 2018 and will end in 2021.

Operationalising Labour Rights: Access to Remedy at the Workplace

ES/S000542/1 ESRC GCRF

Urgent Appeals: Data and Shared Learning ESRC GCRF Project

Jean Jenkins, Katy Huxley

This is a project that commenced on 05 November 2019. It is being undertaken by colleagues in Cardiff Business School and WISERD in collaboration with the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC). It builds on an earlier ESRC IAA Award which was completed in March 2019. The focus of our work is to improve and develop the database used by CCC to record and monitor its Urgent Appeals mechanism.

Established in 1989, CCC is an international NGO which works in close cooperation with a range of civil society partners as a global alliance dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.

Its Urgent Appeals system is an independent mechanism through which human rights defenders (HRDs) at the grassroots can appeal for assistance when in need of international lobbying and advocacy in support of their actions, or as a source of urgent remedy at the local level.

Urgent Appeals: Data and Shared Learning ESRC GCRF Project


Interest representation of European Employers’ Organisations

Mona Aranea, Leon Gooberman, Marco Hauptmeier

This research project focuses on interest representation of European Employers’ Organisations (EEOs) in the European Union (EU). The project concentrates on those European collective bodies which represent employer interests, considering a wide range of issues in the areas of employment relations, labour and Human Resource Management (HRM).

The project inquires as to how EEOs advance the interests of employers on the European level, analysing the joint regulation and policy-making with labour unions in the European social dialogues, political representation and lobbying in the EU political system, service provision to members and their role in standard-setting.

In addition, the project examines how EEOs develop their goals and policies, gauging the democratic influence by national member federations versus the autonomous decision making by the EEO leadership. Finally, the project aims to identify the population of EEOs, gather information on each organisation and compile their profiles in a new handbook of EEOs.

Gaining collaborative advantages: The changing role of employers' organisations in the British economy

This project ran from 20 June 2014 to 19 June 2017.

It was sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and led by Dr Marco Hauptmeier with Dr Leon Gooberman and Professor Edmund Heery.

Award type: Research, ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship



Seminars, conferences and other events

ERU holds regular seminars, conferences, discussion forums and other events, including presentations from ERU members and visiting scholars.

ERU 2023 report

Throughout 2023, Dr Luciana Zorzoli served as the ERU interim Director, while Dr Jonathan Preminger was on research leave.

In 2023 we congratulate our colleague Prof Ed Heery for being awarded the BUIRA Fellowship. This esteemed recognition is a testament to Ed's exceptional contributions to IR and his remarkable dedication to publishing high-impact and quality publications.

In June, we had the honour of hosting Dr Jonathan Preminger, who presented his thought-provoking research on "Nationalist Industrial Relations and the Ethnic 'Other': A Critical Border Studies Perspective."

Also in June, ERU members presented work in progress and recent research at the Management, Employment and Organisation Section Research Conference. Have a look at the conference program online (permission required).

May brought two distinguished colleagues, Dr David Nash and Dr Deborah Hann, who presented their collaborative work entitled "Strategic, Disconnected, or Reactive? Towards a Typology of Conflict Management Approaches in the UK."

In April, I presented and discussed the book titled "70 Years of the ILO Committee of Freedom of Association: A Reliable Compass in Any Weather" with Karen Curtis, Chief of the ILO Freedom of Association Branch, International Labour Standards Department and Dr Kamala Sankaran from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. This book provided valuable insights into the work of the ILO Committee of Freedom of Association over the past seven decades.

Our activities in March were cancelled as part of UCU's industrial action.

In February, we had the privilege of hosting Dr Maayan Niezna from the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford. Dr. Niezna presented her research on the exploitation of Palestinian workers in Israel, specifically focusing on recruitment fees.

In January, we had the pleasure of hosting a joint book presentation organized by ERU and CORGies. The event celebrated and discussed two new books written by our CARBS colleagues. The first book, titled "Contemporary Employers' Organizations: Adaptation and Resilience," was edited by Leon Gooberman and Marco Hauptmeier. The second book, "Developing Public Service Leaders: Elite Orchestration, Change Agency, Leaderism, and Neoliberalization," was authored by Mike Wallace, Michael Reed, Dermot O'Reilly, Michael Tomlinson, Jonathan Morris, and Rosemary Deem.

You can learn more about these books from the following news stories.

We also continued our tradition of collaborating with CORGies to organize our PhD mini-conference at the beginning of the year. The event featured presentations from PhD students from our Management, Employment and Organisation Section (MEO) and other Cardiff University schools, covering a wide range of research topics. You can find the full report online.

Past events


In February, ERU collaborated with CORGies and the Centre for Researching Education and Labour at the University of the Witwatersrand, for an online symposium titled, Critical Perspectives on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Speakers included Ian Moll (University of the Witwatersrand), Paul Thompson (Stirling University) and Ivor Baatjes (Nelson Mandela University), with Irena Grugulis (Leeds University) and Rick Delbridge (Cardiff Business School) commentating on the speakers’ presentations.

In January, ERU hosted the Cardiff Business School MEO section PhD conference, organized jointly with CORGies, in which the section’s PhD students presented their research.


In October, Arianna Marcolin (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa) discussed how digitalisation affects industrial relations in the retail sector, using evidence from Italy and Spain.

In June, Luciana Zorzoli (Cardiff Business School) presented her research on employment relations and gig workers’ expectations, interests and experiences, focusing on Buenos Aires (Argentina), São Paulo (Brazil) and Santiago de Chile (Chile).

In March, Bradon Ellem (University of Sydney Business School) presented his research into productivity and industrial relations policy in Australian ‘megaprojects’.

In February, Sarah Pickard (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle) discussed the reasons for low rates of trade union membership and activism among the young precariat in Britain.

In January, ERU hosted the Cardiff Business School MEO section PhD conference, organised jointly with CORGies, in which the section’s PhD students presented their research.

In January, Dr Søren Kaj Andersen (University of Copenhagen), Professor Russell Lansbury (University of Sydney) and Dr Chris F. Wright (University of Sydney) presented their work on actors’ perspectives of low growth in Australia and Denmark (event held online due to Covid-19)

In January, Dr Johannes Kiess (University of Siegen and University of Leipzig) talked about participation, solidarity and recognition in the workplace, and the possibility of strengthening democratic attitudes through industrial citizenship (event held online due to Covid-19)


In November, Cardiff University’s Professor Alan Felstead talked about his research into homeworking during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Cardiff Business School’s Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna talked about the impact of the pandemic on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (event held online due to Covid-19)

In November, Dr Paolo Tomassetti (University of Bergamo) talked about the main findings of the EU project ‘Agreenment: A Green Mentality for Collective Bargaining’, which investigates the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in promoting sustainable development and a just transition (event held online due to Covid-19)

In July, Professor Guy Mundlak (Tel Aviv University) talked about his new book, Organizing Matters: Two Logics of Trade Union Representation (ILO and Edward Elgar, 2020) (event held online due to Covid-19)

In June, Dr Stefano Gasparri (University of the West of England) presented his paper, “Workers of the world, unite and then divide! Ideological variation in trade union strategies towards zero-hours contracts in Italy” (event held online due to Covid-19)

In May, Dr Mona Aranea (Cardiff University) spoke about employers and the European social pillar, part of the Interest Representation by European Employer Organisations research project (event held online due to Covid-19)

In March, Daniel Nicholson (Cardiff University) presented his paper, “Which side are you on? Technological change, worker involvement and shopfloor patterns of class compromise in the aerospace sector” (event held online due to Covid-19)


In November, Huw Thomas (Bristol University) presented his paper “From a ‘moral commentator’ to a ‘determined actor’? How the International Labour Organization is orchestrating a reframing of the international industrial relations field,” and Dr Fernando Ramalho Martins (Universidade Estadual Paulista) presented his paper, “The reconfiguration of automotive industry: The Iracemápolis’ (Brazil) Mercedes-Benz case”

October: Günter Hinken (VHS Essen) and Tracy Corley (Northeastern University)

In June, Professor Edward Webster (Wits University) presented “The South African inequality paradox”

May: Professor John Budd and Prof. Sarosh Kuruvilla

In May, ERU hosted a book launch for Thomas Prosser’s European Labour Movements in Crisis: from Indecision to Indifference (Manchester University Press, 2019), with Professor Guglielmo Meardi (Warwick University)

In March, ERU hosted a half-day’s workshop in partnership with the CRIMT network.

February: Dr Wil Chivers and Katy Huxley (WISERD, Cardiff University), and Dr David Nash and Dr Deborah Hann (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University)

In January, Dr Jonathan Preminger (Cardiff University) presented his paper, “Union revitalization through social partnership: potential and limitations,” and Dr Jean Jenkins (Cardiff University) presented her work on unionizing in the Indian garment industry.


January: Cyntia Vilasboas Calixto Casnici (Fundação Getulio Vargas, EAESP) and Carolyn Graham (Seafarers International Research Centre, Cardiff University)

February: Mark Bergfeld (Queen Mary University of London)

May: Professor Lidia Greco (Università di Bari)

In November, Helen Blakely and Rhys Davies (WISERD, Cardiff University) presented their paper, “Family, community and the inter-generational transmission of union membership”

In May, ERU held the Global Value Chains and their Employment Relations Consequences conference and special issue

In May, ERU hosted a book launch for Jonathan Preminger’s Labor in Israel: Beyond Nationalism and Neoliberalism (Cornell University Press, 2018), with Professor Marco Hauptmeier (Cardiff Business School)


In February, ERU hosted a book launch for Leon Gooberman’s From Depression to Devolution, Economy and Government in Wales, 1934-2006 (University of Wales Press, 2017).

In April, ERU hosted a special forum for discussion of the French Presidential election


On 15-16 September, ERU held the Employers’ Organisations and Employers’ Collective Action Conference

Funding and awards

The Montague Burton Fund

ERU is delighted to be able to host external scholars through the Montague Burton Fund. The fund covers expenses for visits, to include accommodation, subsistence and travel, up to an expenses cap of £5,000 (subject to availability).

Visiting scholars funded by the Montague Burton Fund would normally be hosted by a scholar based in Cardiff Business School, who would make the application on their behalf and arrange the visit. Visiting scholars are expected to present their research at an ERU seminar, and may be asked to give a guest lecture for students where appropriate.

The Richard E. Benedict Scholarship Award

Thanks to the generosity of the Benedict family, the Richard E. Benedict Scholarship Award (formerly the Benedict Prize) is awarded annually to encourage postgraduate students (including MSc students) to enter the field of employment relations research. These awards, of up to £2,000 (subject to availability), are intended to enable the recipient to undertake and complete a project related to an area of postgraduate studies on a topic connected with employment and work, broadly defined.

To apply for the Richard E. Benedict Scholarship Award or for further details, please contact the Director of ERU. Applications will be awarded on a competitive basis: ERU members will select a project of the best quality and highest potential. Upon completion of the project, recipients are required to write a report of not more than 500 words and present the findings of their project at an ERU seminar.

Visiting Scholars

Montague Burton visiting fellowship

Since 1990, the ERU has organised a regular visiting scholar programme based on the Montague Burton Fund.

The unit uses these funds to build up contacts with international researchers, to facilitate research collaboration between members and internationally renowned scholars and to enhance the international reputation of both the Employment Research Unit and Cardiff Business School.

Past visiting scholars

  • Professor John Budd (University of Minnesota)
  • Dr Todd Dickey (Syracuse University)
  • Professor Edward Webster (Wits University)
  • Dr Tracy Corley (Northeastern University)
  • Professor Lidia Greco (Università di Bari)
  • Professor Peter Gahan (University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Assaf Bondy (Tel Aviv University)
  • Mona Aranea Guillen (Oviedo University)
  • Howard Gospel (Kings College)
  • David Yeandle (former employer representative, EEF)
  • Rebecca Givan (Rutgers University, USA)
  • Lise Lotte Hansen (Roskilde Universitet, Denmark)
  • Cathie Jo Martin (Boston University, USA).
  • Kerstin Harmann (University of Central Florida, USA)
  • Greg Bamber (Monash University, USA)
  • Lowell Turner (Cornell University, USA).
  • Charles Heckscher (Rutgers University, USA)
  • Sanford Jacoby (UCLA, USA)
  • Christian Levesque (Montreal University, Canada).
  • Ed Carberry (Boston University, USA)
  • Morris Kleiner (University of Minnesota, USA)
  • Sarosh Kuruvilla (Cornell University, USA).
  • Janice Fine (Rutgers University, USA)
  • Martin Behrens (Hans Böckler Foundation, Germany)
  • Marian Baird (University of Sydney, Australia).
  • Luis Ortiz (Pompeiu Fabra)
  • Nikola Smit (North West University, South-Africa)
  • Michael Burawoy (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
  • Ruth Milkman (CUNY, USA)
  • Bradon Ellem (University of Sydney, Australia).

Next steps


Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

Our research degrees give the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth among field-leading researchers.


Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.