Comparative Employment Research Centre (CERC)

CERC is a new research centre based at De Montfort University. Its purpose is to support and promote internationally comparative research which engages with the political economy of work and employment, and which addresses how actors involved in the governance of work and employment can promote better outcomes for workers and society.

CERC researchers perform research which engages with many of the core theoretical and practical challenges confronting the world of work and employment, as international pressures confront established systems of regulation and representation. We have particular expertise in:

  • The international coordination of work and employment within multinational firms and across their global production networks, and how this relates to business and employment systems at national and more local levels. In particular, Phil Almond has been lead investigator for an ESRC-funded project on multinationals’ interactions with sub-national regions across Canada, Ireland, Spain and the UK, and is co-investigator on a large new ESRC project on globalising actors and the transmission of global norms within multinational firms (led by Professor Tony Edwards of Kings College London).
  • The ways in which trade unions respond to the challenges of the internationalisation of the labour force. Heather Connolly has participated in comparative research in this area funded by the Leverhulme Trust (led by Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio of the University of Manchester) across the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, and is currently working on research on union approaches to the integration of migrant workers in France and the UK, which is part-funded by CERC.
  •  Work and development in the Global South. Our work here, led by Anita Hammer focuses on emerging economies and examines the development trajectories of new industrial regions, changing patterns of work and employment and the role of the informal economy, with specific expertise in India. CERC also funds research into worker organisation and mobilisation in Latin America, conducted by Adam Fishwick. Both Hammer and Fishwick are founding members of the Labour, Work and Development network.
  • The political economy of skill. Our work here builds on Jonathan Payne’s internationally comparative work in this area, and seeks to examine how the development and use of skill is informed by national configurations of political economy. Jonathan has recently published, with Caroline Lloyd of Cardiff University, a major research monograph in this area. CERC also funds research led by Payne comparing responses to automation in Norway and the UK.
  • How individual firms interact with local and national institutions, and how this questions the simplifications of comparative frameworks such as the varieties of capitalism thesis. Almond currently leads a British Academy project in this area, exploring the role UK managers may play as ‘coordinating actors’. This work also involves CERC DMU visiting professor Olga Tregaskis (University of East Anglia).

Across these varied projects, CERC seeks to develop analyses of how actors (whether high-power actors such as multinational corporations or low-power actors such as organisers of migrant groups in trade unions) seek to make their approaches and policies adequate for a world of work which is in profound transition internationally, and how these challenges open up space for actors to experiment with regard to institutions and organisational form.

We believe that successful comparative research often involves long-term, in-depth engagement with the national and local contexts under study, and therefore seek to build on and further development our members’ specific area expertise. We currently have well-established expertise in the contexts of Canada, France, Spain and India, built over many years of fieldwork and intensive collaboration with international research partners.

A launch one-day conference for CERC will be held on January 18th, 2016 at DMU. Further details on this will follow shortly.

If you wish to learn more about CERC, please contact Phil Almond

Phil Almond, 3rd November 2016.