Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Comparing contextual patterns of workplace struggle in the UK and Republic of Ireland public transport sectors : London Underground and Dublin Bus
Author: Hughes, Emma
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The aims of this doctoral thesis are to explore patterns of employment relations and workplace struggle in two public transport organizations, and to uncover how they are shaped by multi-dimensional internal and external contextual forces. A qualitative cross-country comparative case study approach was adopted to reveal the dynamics of concrete workplace relations and struggle. Two in-depth transport case studies were conducted, London Underground in the UK and Dublin Bus in the Republic of Ireland. Data collection involved accumulating various archival documents, conducting semi-structured interviews with employees, union officials and managers, and observing employees both at work and in union meetings. A thematic analysis approach was adopted to analyse the data, with emphasis placed on the utilization of discourses, including the three employment relations frames of reference, unitarism, pluralism and radicalism, and broader discourses, such as, neoliberalism, new public management and moral discourse. The key rationale underpinning the thesis is that case studies examining how patterns of employment relations and struggle differ in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are scarce. Comparing employment relations in both countries is a fruitful avenue of research, because of their different historical trajectories. The Republic of Ireland adopted a social partnership model between 1987 and 2009, which was less confrontational than Thatcher’s neo-liberal agenda in the UK. However, scholars have argued that the neo-liberalization of the Republic of Ireland’s political economy has intensified and converged more towards the UK since the 2008 financial crisis, the subsequent recession and the collapse of social partnership. The study contributes to this debate by examining the extent of this shift in a comparative context of workplace struggles. The findings indicate that employment relations in London Underground and Dublin Bus have changed in recent years due to various contextual forces. Nevertheless, in broad terms, relations between managers, employees and their union representatives at Dublin Bus are less antagonistic and are characterised by higher levels of trust than at London Underground. The thesis also contributes to the employment relations frames of reference, by empirically fleshing out the ‘zones of contention’ between the rival frames and arguing that radical pluralism is the v most applicable frame for analysing workplace struggles. Radical pluralism adopts a critical and multi-layered view of the employment relationship. It fully acknowledges deep-rooted structural contradictions, yet also appreciates that in reality, employment relations are not easily categorized as conflict/cooperation, control/consent, or high-trust/low-trust binaries, but instead tend to dovetail with contextual forces to foment combinations of different patterns. By adopting a multi-level methodological approach linking micro-level discourse to broader social, political and economic spheres, in the context of two cross-country comparative case studies, the thesis makes an innovative methodological contribution to employment relations literature.
Supervisor: Merkl-Davies, Doris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business