Equitable workplace change in meeting net zero. A research agenda

  • Wed 1 Feb 23

    12:00 - 13:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Ian Roper, Essex Business School

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Sophie Hales

This seminar aims to conceptualise the formulation of a new workplace change agenda informed by decarbonisation, with the significant catalyst of the experience of COVID-recovery.  

Seminar summary

This paper will conceptualise the formulation of a new workplace change agenda informed by decarbonisation, with the significant catalyst of the experience of COVID-recovery. The requirement for decarbonising, following the IPCC 2021 Report and subsequent COP26 and COP27 agreements, has tended to focus attention on infrastructure, investment and consumption, but there are significant implications for workplace change. Covid19 is somewhat fading from public attention, yet from the time it emerged in 2019, though national lockdowns, to ongoing adjustments, it has led to unprecedented changes to workplace arrangements worldwide. Many have speculated that the changes adopted will be mainstreamed into a ‘new normal’.

Both of these ‘external’ agendas for large-scale change would seem to be uncompromising and requiring of unqualified support. Yet any agenda for change may not be perceived this way once translated into management policy. Significant evidence exists as to the inequity of how workplace adjustments were made during the peak of COVID and the aftermath seems to be suggesting similar. The ‘sacrifices’ required to decarbonise are also likely to be contested on equity grounds.

There is also good reason to consider these two ‘external’ agendas in combination, because workforces are unlikely to see change being implemented under either or both of these global issues up-front; but rather under managerial initiatives that claim the global issues as inspiring the need for change, bit not being the change initiatives in their own right. In this sense, the means by which change might be presented to workforces may instead be through digitisation and the need for organisations to become more ‘agile’. Workplace change, from within organisations, occurs through organisational imperatives defined my management ideology and the narrative of ‘agile’ appears well suited as a vehicle for mobilising and combining the three other external forces into action.

Extensive literature indicates that working practices are affected by national institutional frameworks (Gooderham et al, 2018; Brookes et al, 2017. Brewster et al 2015). We seek to formulate a conceptual framework that will enable an exploration of the workplace change agenda as it unfolds and analyse (1) how national regulatory contexts shape different employer and worker (e.g. union) responses; (2) how these organisational responses affect worker outcomes; (3) worker resistance to change.

The presentation is developed from paper presented to HRM Special Interest Group of BAM, in Prato in June 2022 and is in collaboration with Mick Brookes and Elena Shulzhenko (University of Southern Denmark), Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya (Birkbeck) and Rea Prouska (LSBU, London)


How to attend this seminar

We welcome you to join us in person on Wednesday 1 February 2023 at 12pm at our Colchester Campus in the North Teaching Centre Building room NTC.2.07

This seminar is free to attend with no need to register in advance.

If you are unable to make it in person, the seminar will be available to watch live online.


Speaker bio

Dr Ian Roper

Ian researches and teaches in the subject of human resource management. He has research interests in a number of inter-related areas including: 'reforming' work in public services; the impact of employment regulation on equality-related issues; the 'professional' nature of HRM; the relationship between corporate social responsibility and HRM and relatedly, how these relate to the issue of 'Modern Slavery'. Most recently he is interested in the notion of 'Agile' working.

He is Editorial Board member of the British Journal of Management and previously (2018-21) joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Work Employment and Society. He is a member of Working Families' academic advisory board, member of the British Sociological Association, the British Universities Industrial Relations Association and Academic Member of the CIPD.