Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Human resource management and organisational behaviour

The research focus within the Group is upon all people working in organisations, from unskilled employees through skilled craft and other workers, to employee representatives, professional staff, managers and leaders.

The Group is headed up by Dr Jannine Williams. See all staff and research students in the group.

Research within the group falls broadly within three streams, with colleagues working collaboratively across these areas of activity:

  • Human Resource Management
  • Industrial and Employee Relations/Sociology of Work
  • Organisational Analysis

The group's strength is in the range of theoretical perspectives which they bring to the shared interest in individuals and groups in organisations.

Strengths within the group specifically in qualitative research complement and are augmented by the School's broader strengths in quantitative methods.

The School's Centre for Research into Organisations and Work (CROW) under the leadership of Professor Nancy Harding focuses on cross-disciplinary research and all members of the group are active in research within CROW.

Fifteen doctoral students are being supervised by members of the group. These students are researching in areas across the OB/HRM disciplines.

Human resource management

The main areas of human resource management research are:

  • learning and change in organisations
  • diversity, equality, ethics and fairness
  • the way employment institutions shape labour markets and strategies for human resource management
  • leadership

Dr David Spicer is researching learning and change in organisations, particularly organisational learning, change agency and leadership and the relationship between individual and organisational learning.

Professor Nancy Harding is researching older women's working lives, critical approaches to understanding leadership, and (with Dr Rana Tassabehji) the absence of women from high-tech industries.

Dr Hugh Lee is researching diversity policies, values and ethics within organisations.

Dr Peter Prowse is researching work design and flexibility in midwifery in the National Health Service, and international negotiation styles.

Professor Nelarine Cornelius researches issues of equality, diversity and fairness, social organizations and public sector management.

Industrial and employee relations/sociology of work

The main areas of industrial and employee relations research are:

  • forms of collectivism and collective leadership
  • employer-union relationships
  • employment relations in multinational corporations
  • international labour standards and corporate social responsibility
  • European Union social policy
  • international and comparative employment relations
  • community unionism and partnership arrangements
  • social inclusion and participation - especially the effects of redundancy on black and minority-ethnic workers and trade unions
  • public-private partnerships and new forms of privatisation
  • lean working methods in the public sector
  • work-life balance and caring arrangements

Research on the effects of redundancy on black and minority-ethnic workers and trade unions has resulted in numerous publications, invited presentations and reports for bodies including the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and the European Commission.

Dr Rob Perrett has advised the Trades Union Congress and the Unison trade union.

Dr Peter Prowse is researching in public service employee relations policy and their consequences on union recruitment and the negotiation styles for unions and employers.

Professor Tony Royle is author of Working for McDonald’s in Europe and Labour Relations in the Global Fast-Food Industry. He has acted as adviser to the International Labour Organization, the Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, the Irish Labour Relations Commission and a number of international trade union organisations. He has also made a number of appearances on TV and Radio in a number of countries and also acted as adviser to news programmes such as BBC 2’s Newsnight programme.

Professor Gregor Gall has carried out work for a number of unions and the TUC and is currently engaged in a project on union leadership.

Dr Andrew Smith is critically examining the application of lean working methods in the public sector. He is also interested in the challenges and complexities of work-life balance in employing organisations.

Organisational analysis

The main areas of organisational analysis research are:

  • critical, post-structuralist research into management in organisations through the stories managers tell and biographical accounts of their lives
  • critical analysis of organisations, management and working lives, including the way organisations are constructed through interactions between people, how managers practice managerial identities and how a sense of self is constructed through work
  • critical ways in which leadership is conceptualised, researched and practiced in organisations
  • insights from research into, and conceptual analysis of, the improvement of leadership and management in organisations
  • new ways of drawing on philosophy and psychoanalytical theory for theorising about, and researching into, organisations
  • gender and organisations

Post-structuralist, gender and psychoanalytical theories are informing the research of Professor Nancy Harding and Dr Simon Kelly on the critical analysis of organisations, management and working lives, including the way organisations are constructed through interactions between people, how managers practice managerial identities and how a sense of self is constructed through work and working lives in the 21st century.

Professor Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe, Dr David Spicer, Dr Simon Kelly and Professor Nancy Harding are exploring critical ways in which leadership is conceptualised, researched and practiced in organisations, while Professor Alimo-Metcalfe is seeking insights from research into, and conceptual analysis of, the improvement of leadership and management in organisations, including at the individual, team and Board levels.

Professor Nancy Harding and Dr Hugh Lee are exploring comparative working lives and ethics, including fieldwork in Indonesia, Tanzania and Dubai. They are also exploring how to develop insights from queer theory so as to conceptualise the sub-texts within organizational relationships.

Dr Sue Richardson researches inter-professional and inter-organizational working and has explored information sharing issues in partnerships that include public sector organisations.

Dr Simon Kelly is investigating the value and challenges of using qualitative research methods for the study of leadership and leadership development. He is also researching the role of popular culture and myth in the production of narrative accounts of contemporary working life.

Example research projects

  • a 3-year longitudinal study, funded by Yorks & the Humber SHA, investigating the impact of leadership & team working, on staff morale & wellbeing, & service user satisfaction (Alimo-Metcalfe, Bradley. M)
  • an examination of the impact of perceptions of the effectiveness of Board-level leadership, on the motivation, engagement, and wellbeing of Board member, and senior managers in the organisation (Alimo-Metcalfe)
  • comparisons between 360-feedback ratings of managers in the UK, Singapore, and China, in relation to Engaging Leadership effectiveness (Alimo-Metcalfe)
  • developing critical insights from learning and leadership in organisations (Cornelius, Harding, Spicer)
  • exploring inequality and diversity in work organisations (Cornelius, Lee)
  • collaborative research into workplace mentoring in the UK and France (Cornelius)
  • employment, representation and social inclusion (Perrett)
  • public-private partnerships, the role of a public sector model of employment relations and union recruitment in the UK public sector (Prowse, Smith)
  • the development of new ways of drawing on philosophical, social, cultural and psychoanalytical as well as institutional perspectives for theorising about, and researching into, organisations (Cornelius, Harding, Lee)
  • exploration of dynamic capabilities, organisational learning and strategic change within high-technology firms (Spicer)
  • the aesthetics of leadership (Harding)
  • talent management and its introduction into the NHS (Harding)
  • comparative working lives and ethics (Indonesia, Tanzania and Dubai) (Lee and Harding)
  • the social construction of work, management and organizations (Harding)
  • exploring work-life balance and caring relations in employing organisations (Smith)
  • adoption of lean working methods to the public sector (Smith)
  • evaluating the work redesign for UK Midwives (Prowse)
  • the evaluation of the effectiveness of partnership working in health; Inter-organizational information sharing in health and social care services (Richardson)
  • the traits and functions of union leadership (Gall)
  • collective interest representation amongst sex workers (Gall)
  • the evaluation of negotiation styles for international managers (Prowse)
  • evaluating the benefit and challenges of experiential leadership development (Kelly)
  • exploring the everyday practice of leadership in the UK further education sector (Kelly)
  • value systems as they affect relations and relationships at work (Lee)
  • international framework agreements, European social dialogue and corporate social responsibility (Royle)
  • Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue (Royle)
  • core work standards and new modes of regulation in MNCs in the European supermarket sector (Royle)
  • analyzing the Impact of the EU Information and Consultation Directive (Royle)
  • Employee representation in the international fast-food industry (Royle)

Collaborations, partnerships and international links

Collaborative partners include departments within the following Universities:

  • Birmingham
  • Brunel
  • De Montfort
  • Durham
  • Ecole des Mines Paris
  • Glasgow Caledonian
  • Heriot-Watt
  • Lancaster
  • Leeds
  • Leeds Beckett
  • Leicester
  • Loughborough
  • Manchester
  • Monash
  • Nottingham
  • Nurenberg
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Salford
  • Southampton
  • Strathclyde
  • Warwick
  • University of West of England
  • University of Western Australia

Also the universities of:

  • Oviedo (Spain)
  • Modena (Italy)
  • Gothenburg (Sweden)
  • Limerick (Ireland)
  • Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland)
  • Surrey (UK)
  • Sheffield (UK)
  • Anadolu (Turkey)
  • Hitotsubashi (Japan)
  • Warsaw School of Economics (Poland)

And research institutes such as Berlin Social Science Research Institute (WZB, Germany).

The Group provides editors, guest editors, deputy editors and act as editorial board members for peer-reviewed management related Journals such as Work Employment and Society and the Industrial Relations Journal (Royle), Personnel Review (Cornelius), Organization (Harding), Human Relations (Kelly), Industrial Relations (Prowse) and Leadership and Leadership & Organisational Development (Alimo-Metcalfe). They include invited speakers at academic and practitioner conferences (Alimo-Metcalfe, Harding, Prowse, Royle) and seminars (Cornelius, Harding).

Members of the group regularly organise conferences and conference streams in the UK and internationally (Cornelius, Harding, Kelly, Royle, Prowse and Smith) and participate in the organisation of the Academy of Management's annual conference (Critical Management Studies Division - Harding; Management Education Division - Spicer) and British Academy of Management’s annual conference (Knowledge and Learning Special Interest Group - Spicer).

Research outcomes and impact

Research undertaken by the group is transmitted to practitioners through teaching, seminars and executive education, following programmes specifically designed to assist translation of research into practice (notably, Prowse and Spicer and their work with the School's SME Knowledge Network, and Richardson, through the ESRC, EASI project, providing a practitioner development programme to front line workers delivering public services).

Research from the group has been published in high quality academic Journals such as the British Journal of Industrial Relations, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Work Employment and Society, Industrial Relations Journal, Economic and Industrial Democracy, Personnel Review, Employee Relations, Labour History, and the International Journal of HRM. Other outputs include a series of research reports and publications and consultancy documents for example the ILO on international labour standards (Royle) and in other areas for example the training needs and employment rights of black and minority ethnic communities (Perrett), the development of leadership, team working, and organisational culture to increase employee engagement, innovation, and improvement, and Board leadership and governance (Alimo-Metcalfe), and publication in professional journals (Alimo-Metcalfe, Spicer, Royle).

OB/HRM staff also apply their research expertise within the School by engaging in knowledge transfer activities such as teaching on executive education programmes, supervising PhDs and DBAs and informing and developing knowledge and skills used in teaching on UG and PG programmes both in Bradford and internationally.

Grants/sources of funding

  • Dr Robert Perrett received £90,036 from the British Academy for a mid-career fellowship;
  • Dr Sue Richardson £65,814.56 (Economic and Social Research Council, the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and the government sponsored Improving Information Sharing and Management project);
  • Dr David Spicer £33,837 (Bradford and Airedale NHS Trust) to develop research proposals around innovation in the NHS ;
  • Professor Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe received £150,000 for ‘An investigation of the impact of (engaging) leadership and team working on staff morale and wellbeing, and team performance, among mental health teams within the Yorkshire & The Humber Strategic Health Authority’. Awarded by Yorkshire & Humber Strategic Health;
  • Professor Tony Royle has received funding from the European Union Commission, Hans Boeckler Stiftung, and the Nomura Fund.

Staff research and supervision interests

Professor Nelarine Cornelius holds a number of broad research interests in her areas of expertise, Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies. These include equality, diversity and fairness, business ethics (including wellbeing and social justice) and the management and contributions of social organisations including social enterprises. More generally, Professor Cornelius has also undertaken research and supervised PhD projects in the area of commitment, leadership development, cross-sector partnerships, post-colonialism and human resource management, and public sector management in developed and developing economies.

Professor Gregor Gall has written and edited a number of books on conflict at work, union organising and mobilisation and employer anti-unionism. He is currently engaged in preparing books on union leadership; employment relations in the financial services sector; and on organising sex workers.

Professor Nancy Harding's expertise lies in qualitative research methods, and her interest is in working lives, approached from a critical management perspective. She researches ways in which the self is constructed at work, the manner by which knowledge develops and circulates, and any intriguing question that can be explored from post-structural and/or gender perspectives. She has supervised doctoral students studying topics including leader identities, identities and organisational change, women and health services, public sector services in Nigeria, etc. She is currently supervising doctoral students who are exploring third-generation migrant workers in the North of England, the relevance of Simone de Beauvoir’s work to 21st century working lives, corporate governance in Dubai, leadership and corporate governance in the oil industry, post-colonial interpretations of SMEs relationships with Eastern European countries.

Professor Tony Royle’s expertise in is international and comparative employment relations, with a particular focus on employment relations in multinational enterprises in low paid sectors such as supermarkets, fast-food and airlines. Of particular interest is different statutory and non-statutory forms of employee participation and worker representation. He has also has a particular knowledge of European national industrial relations system and European social policy.

Dr Simon Kelly’s research interests include the critical study of leadership and the value and challenges of using qualitative research methods in leadership research and organisational analysis. His current research explores the ontological foundations of leadership theory and the critical study of experiential leadership development. Simon is also interested in the role and function of popular culture, mythology, and the monstrous for analysing contemporary organisational life.

Dr Hugh Lee's recent and current research interests focus primarily on work in business ethics. In the international perspective, in South East Asia, he is looking at value systems and how concepts such as responsibility, trust, respect, loyalty and integrity are understood and used by cultures that are often far less individualist and more communitarian based than those in the west. More locally he is currently interested in issues around diversity and fairness within human resource management in the workplace and how legislation aimed to secure and promote these public goods via mechanisms such as tick-box questionnaires may not be appropriate ways to provide reassurance and respect for employees at whom such questionnaires are directed e.g. those who are non-white, non-straight, non-male and so on.

Dr Robert Perrett's primary research interests lie within employment, representation and social inclusion. More specific areas of interest: Employment rights and employee relations; Employment rights within migrant and BME communities; Communication through networks and community space; Lifelong learning and the apprenticeship system; The social and economic impacts of redundancy; Health and Safety and absence management; Union renewal, revitalization and community unionism; Employment relations within the airport sector. Recent research focuses on the diversity of new systems of employment relations and the ability to represent new clusters of workers within an increasingly decentralized and fragmented economy.

Dr Peter Prowse's research interests are flexibility at work and he has published widely in books and journals on managing the relationship of outsourcing, particularly in Civil Service Agencies and the Health Sector. He has advised companies on the issues of flexible working and the reduced delivery time to suppliers. He recently worked with Barnsley NHS Foundation Trust on their Partnership Programme. His current research interests include research on Work Design for Midwives in Healthcare, Workplace Flexibility and exploring why people identify and join trade unions. He has recently published on Performance Management and the contribution of Human Resource Management to organisational performance. He is developing a study comparing international negotiators.

Dr Sue Richardson has researched organisational change and new technology; inter-organisational working arrangements; and service delivery in the public sector. She is particularly interested in identity and allegiance in situations of cross-organisational working, especially within information sharing contexts.

Dr Andrew Smith's research interests are in the sociology of work and employment relations issues. He has conducted research on employment change and public-private partnerships in the civil service. He is currently involved in an ESRC funded project that critically examines work-life balance and caring relations in and around the workplace. Dr Smith is also involved with a team of academics investigating the use of 'lean' working methods in the Civil Service, and is currently working on publications and knowledge transfer activities.

Professor Ann Cunliffe’s current research interests lie in examining relational and ethical approaches to leadership, embodied sensemaking, and situated forms of knowledge. Her research is strongly qualitative and based in critical and philosophical perspectives. In particular, she explores the role of language in constructing organizational and social experience. She is interested in narrative, poetic, ethnographic, and participative approaches to research. She supervises doctoral students exploring meaning making and activities of leaders, social entrepreneurs, community activists, strategists, consultants, and human resource professionals. Professor Ann Cunliffe is currently working on projects relating to the identity work of police. She is co-editor in chief of Management Learning. She organises the biennial International Qualitative Research in Management and Organization conference. Her research has been published in Organizational Research Methods, Journal of Business Ethics.


Latest blog posts:

28 September - How can your business take advantage of your local university?

26 September - My CPS Work Experience

20 September - The rise of psychometric testing is harming workplace diversity

Read the School of Management blog