Studying employment relations and organisational behaviour

Employment relations and organisational behaviour embraces the challenges of how organisations manage people, and the wider social and economic context in which they operate. It has a triple emphasis:

  • Human resource management
  • Employment relations
  • Organisation behaviour

Human resource management focuses on how organisations develop and motivate employees to achieve the high standards of performance required in today's competitive markets.

Employment relations focuses on the wider relations between employer and employee organisations, and the structure of labour markets. The climate and institutions of employment relations vary between countries, being more 'cooperative' in some (eg Germany and Japan) and more 'adversarial' in others (eg the US, the UK and France).

Organisation behaviour examines individual perceptions, attitudes, behaviour and performance and the effects of group and organisational context on the individual. Organisational context is playing an increasing role as organisations change in response to external pressures. It also shapes our understanding of individual attitudes and behaviours.

Management is an intellectually difficult area of study. 'Gurus' abound, and make extreme claims about the solutions they propose. Conflicting interests are often cloaked in competing theories and make opposed claims about the evidence. The increased power of management in recent years brings increased choice and hence moral responsibility. Should managers consider only the 'bottom line' when deciding whether to close down a factory, or to use child labour?

We encourage our students to develop a critical approach, and to value rigorous empirical research. Good empirical research requires clear concepts and a mastery of the relevant theory and knowledge in a particular domain. Thus theory and evidence go hand in hand. We want our students to develop an intellectual confidence and independence of judgement to enable them to deal with these difficult issues.

Our subject lies at the intersection of many social science disciplines: economics, sociology, psychology, law, and organisation studies.

We have a particular strength in comparative employment relations and comparative human resource management that is nourished by the international training of our academic colleagues, and by the large number of different nationalities among our students.

We have strong links with the human resource management profession including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, many of whose members attend our seminars and provide placements for our students. Many of our former students now occupy leading positions in human resource management and consultancy, and are good friends to the Group and our students.

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