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Professor Peter Ackers

Job: Professor of Employment Relations

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Faculty of Business and Law

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: 0116 257 7865

E: peter.ackers@dmu.ac.uk

W: dmu.ac.uk/bal

 

Personal profile

Peter Ackers joined DMU in September 2015 and was formerly Professor of Industrial Relations and Labour History at Loughborough University. He studied Politics and Philosophy (PPE, including Sociology) at Lincoln College, Oxford University, followed by an MA in Industrial Relations from Warwick University. His PhD was a biographical study of the link between Protestant nonconformity and trade union leadership in the Lancashire coal industry.

Peter's intellectual interests centre on the sociological and historical aspects of the employment relationship and how this affects ordinary people and society at large. His work stresses the moderate, constructive character of organized labour, with themes of partnership and pluralism, and challenges Radical and Marxist theories of Industrial Relations.

Some examples of Peter’s research:

A talk on Hugh Clegg, Industrial Relations Pluralism and Employee Voice

A Conference on the Oxford School of Industrial Relations at Nuffield College, Oxford

An open access article on Hugh Clegg

A talk at the 1984/85 Coal Miners’ Strike Conference

A new Oxford University Press edited book: Johnstone & Ackers, Finding a Voice at Work?

 

Publications and outputs 

Peter has co-edited three research collections:

Ackers et al (1996) The New Workplace and Trade Unionism (Routledge);

Ackers and Wilkinson (2003) Understanding Work and Employment: industrial relations in transition (Oxford University Press) and;

Johnstone and Ackers (2015), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations (Oxford University Press).

Here are some selected publications since 2008:

Journal Articles

Ackers, P and Hartley, R., “A Social Science Apprenticeship? Hugh Clegg at Mass-Observation, 1939”, Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 25/26, 2008:197-218.

Johnstone, S, Ackers, P, Wilkinson, A., “The British Partnership Phenomenon: A Ten Year Review”, Human Resource Management Journal, 19(3), 2009: 260-279.

Johnstone, S, Wilkinson, A., Ackers, P., “Critical Incidents of Partnership: Five Years' Experience at NatBank”, Industrial Relations Journal, 41(4), 2010: 382-398.

Johnstone, S, Ackers, P, Wilkinson, A.,”Better than Nothing? Is Non-Union Partnership a Contradiction in Terms?”, Journal of Industrial Relations, 52(2), 2010: 151-168.

Bhattacherjee, D and Ackers, P., “Introduction: employment relations in India - old narratives and new perspectives”, Industrial Relations Journal, 41(2), 2010: 104-121 (a Special Edition on Indian Employment Relations edited by Bhattacherjee and Ackers).

Ackers, P., “More Marxism than Methodism. Hugh Clegg at Kingswood School, Bath (1932-39)”, Socialist History (reprint), 38, 2011: 27-46.

Johnstone, S, Wilkinson, AJ, Ackers, P., “Applying Budd's model to partnership”, Economic and Industrial Democracy, 32(2), 2011: 307-328.

Ackers, P., “The Changing Systems of British Industrial Relations, 1954-1979: Hugh Clegg and the Warwick Sociological Turn, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 49(2), 2011: 306-330.

Ackers, P., “Extended book review: The Warwick School of Industrial Relations (Colling & Terry, Industrial Relations, 2010)”, Work, Employment & Society, 26(5), 2012: 879-882.

Ackers, P., ''Rethinking the employment relationship: a neo-pluralist critique of British industrial relations orthodoxy”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25 (18) 2014: 2608-2625.

Ackers, P., ''Gramsci at the miners strike: remembering the 1984-1985 Eurocommunist alternative industrial relations strategy, Labor History, 55: 2, 2014: 151-172.

Beszter, P., Ackers, P. & Hislop, D. ‘Understanding continuity in public sector HRM through neo-institutional theory: why national collective bargaining has survived in English local government’, Human Resource Management Journal, i-first, 5 September 2014.

Ackers, P.,‘Game Changer: Hugh Clegg’s Role in Drafting the 1968 Donovan Report and Redefining the British Industrial Relations Policy-Problem’, Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 35, 2014: 63-88.

Book Chapters:

Ackers, P. and Wilkinson, A., “Industrial Relations and the Social Sciences”, in Sage Handbook of Industrial Relations, Blyton, P., Bacon, N., Fiorito, J. and Heery, E. (eds), Sage, London, 2008: 53-68.

Ackers, P., “An Industrial Relations Perspective on Employee Participation”, Chapter 3 in The Oxford Handbook of Participation in Organizations, Wilkinson, A., Gollan, P.J., Marchington, M., Lewin, D. (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 2010: 52-75.

Ackers, P., “Finding the future in the past? The social philosophy of Oxford industrial relations pluralism”, in Research Handbook on the Future of Work and Employment Relations, Townsend, K. and Wilkinson, A. (eds), Edward Elgar, 2011: 45-66.

Ackers, P., “Employment Ethics”, in Contemporary Human  Resource Management: Text and Cases, Redman, T. and Wilkinson, A. (eds), FT Prentice Hall, 2013.

Ackers, P., ‘Trade unions as Professional Associations’, in Johnstone, S. & Ackers, P. (eds) Finding a Voice at Work: New Perspectives on Employment Relations (Oxford University Press), February 2015.

Key research outputs

Over a long academic career, Peter has written to certain central themes, which he continues to work on. If you could like a copy of any of these pieces, please email: peter.ackers@dmu.ac.uk

Here is a selection of key articles and chapters:-

(1) Hugh Clegg and the Oxford School of Industrial Relations

Ackers, P and Wilkinson, A.J., “British Industrial Relations Paradigm: A Critical Outline History and Prognosis”, The Journal of Industrial Relations, 47(4), 2005: 443-456.

Ackers, P., “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Global History, the British Tradition, and the European Renaissance”, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, 27(1), 2005: 93-104.

Ackers, P. “Collective Bargaining as Industrial Democracy: Hugh Clegg and the Political Foundations of British Industrial Relations Pluralism”, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 45(1), 2007: 77-101.

Ackers, P and Hartley, R., “A Social Science Apprenticeship? Hugh Clegg at Mass-Observation, 1939”, Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 25/26, 2008: 197-218.

Ackers, P., “More Marxism than Methodism. Hugh Clegg at Kingswood School, Bath (1932-39)”, Socialist History (reprint from the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society), 38, 2011: 27-46.

Ackers, P., “The Changing Systems of British Industrial Relations, 1954-1979: Hugh Clegg and the Warwick Sociological Turn”, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 49(2), 2011: 306-330

Ackers, P., “Finding the future in the past? The social philosophy of Oxford industrial relations pluralism”, in Research Handbook on the Future of Work and Employment Relations, Townsend, K. and Wilkinson, A. J. (eds), Edward Elgar, 2011: 45-66.

(1) Neo-Pluralism and the Sociology of Employment Relations

Ackers, P., ''Back to Basics? Industrial Relations and the Enterprise Culture'', Employee Relations, 16(8), 1994: 32-47.

Ackers, P., ''Reframing Employment Relations: The Case for Neo-Pluralism'', Industrial Relations Journal, 33(1), 2002: 2-19.

Ackers, P., ''Haunted by History: Industrial Relations Faces the Future'' (Review of Edwards, Industrial Relations), Organization Studies, 25(9), 2004: 1623-1629.

Ackers, P., ''Theorizing the Employment Relationships: Materialists and Institutionalists'', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 43(3), September 2005: 537-543.

Ackers, P. and Wilkinson, A., “Industrial Relations and the Social Sciences”, in Sage Handbook of Industrial Relations, Blyton, P., Bacon, N., Fiorito, J. and Heery, E. (eds), Sage, London, 2008: 53-68.

Ackers, P., ''Rethinking the employment relationship: a neo-pluralist critique of British industrial relations orthodoxy”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25 (18) 2014: 2608-2625.

Ackers, P., ''The Warwick School of Industrial Relations” (review of Colling and Terry, Industrial Relations)'', Work, Employment and Society, 2012, 26(5) October: 879-882.

(See also: Khan, A.S. and Ackers, P., ''Neo-Pluralism as a Theoretical Framework for Understanding HRM in Sub-Saharan Africa'', International Journal of Human Resource Management, 15(7), November 2004: 1330-1353.)

(2) Participation and Partnership between Trade Unions and Management

Ackers, P., Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A.J. and Goodman, J., ''The Use of Cycles?  Explaining Employee Involvement in the 1990s'', Industrial Relations Journal, 23(4) Winter, 1992: 268-283.

Ackers, P. and Payne, J., ''British Trade Unions and Social Partnership: Rhetoric, Reality and Strategy'', The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 9(3), June 1998: 529-550.

Ackers, P., Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A.J. and Dundon, T., ''Partnership and Voice, With or Without Trade Unions: Changing UK Management Approaches to Organisational Participation'', in Partnership and Modernisation in Employment Relations, Stuart, M. and Lucio, M.M. (eds), Routledge, 2005: 23-45.

Ackers, P., “An Industrial Relations Perspective on Employee Participation”, Chapter 3 in The Oxford Handbook of Participation in Organizations, Wilkinson, A., Gollan, P.J., Marchington, M., Lewin, D. (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 2010: 52-75.

Ackers, P., ‘Trade unions as Professional Associations’, in Johnstone, S. & Ackers, P. (eds) Finding a Voice at Work: New Perspectives on Employment Relations (Oxford University Press), February 2015.

(3) Coal mining Labour History

Ackers, P., ''Colliery Deputies in the British Coal Industry Before Nationalization'', International Review of Social History, 39, 1994: 383-414.

Ackers, P., ''Review Essay: Life After Death: Mining history without a coal industry'', Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 1, March 1996: 159-170.

Ackers, P. and Payne, J., '''Through a Glass Darkly': Deciphering the Colliery Consultation Minutes of the Nationalised British Coal Industry'', Labour History Review, 65(1), 2000: 59-89.

Ackers, P. and Payne, J., ''Before the Storm: The Experience of Nationalization and the Prospects for Industrial Relations Partnership in the British Coal Industry, 1947-1972 - Rethinking the Militant Narrative'', Social History, 27(2), May 2002: 184-209.

Ackers, P., ''Gramsci at the miners strike: remembering the 1984-1985 Eurocommunist alternative industrial relations strategy, Labor History, 55: 2, 2014: 151-172.

(4) The British Churches of Christ & working class Protestantism

Ackers, P., ''Who Speaks for the Christians? The Great War and Conscientious Objection in the Churches of Christ: a View from the Wigan Coalfield'', The Journal of the United Reformed Church History Society, 5(3), October 1993: 153-166.

Ackers, P., ''The 'Protestant Ethic' and the English Labour Movement: the Case of the Churches of Christ'', Labour History Review, 58(3), 1993: 67-72.

Ackers, P., ''West End Chapel, Back Street Bethel: Labour and Capital in the Wigan Churches of Christ c 1845-1945'', The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 47(2), April 1996: 298-329.

Ackers, P., ''Exodus: Labour Emigration from the English Churches of Christ to Canada during 1906 and 1907'', The Journal of the United Reform Church History Society, 6(1), October 1997: 33-46.

Ackers, P., ''Rethinking the Restoration Movement'', The Journal of the United Reformed Church History Society, 6(5), November 1999: 362-371.

Ackers, P., ''The Churches of Christ as a Labour Sect, Special Note'', in Dictionary of Labour Biography X, Bellamy, J.M. and Saville, J. (eds), MacMillan, 2000:199-206.

Casey, M.W. and Ackers, P., ''The Enigma of the Young Arthur Horner: From Churches of Christ Preacher to Communist Militant (1884-1920)'', Labour History Review, 66(1), 2001: 3-23.

(5) Paternalism and Welfare Capitalism

Ackers, P. and Black, J., ''Paternalist Capitalism: An Organisation Culture in Transition'', in Work and the Enterprise Culture, Cross, M. and Payne, G. (eds), Falmer BSA, 1991: 30-56.

Ackers, P. and Preston, D., ''Born Again? The Ethics and Efficacy of the Conversion Experience in Contemporary Management Development'', Journal of Management Studies, 34(5), September 1997: 677-701.

Ackers, P., ''On Paternalism: Seven Observations on the Uses and Abuses of the Concept in Industrial Relations, Past and Present'', Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 6, Spring, 1998: 173-193.

Ackers, P., ''Paternalism, Participation and Partnership: Rethinking the Employment Relationship'', Human Relations, 54(3), 2001: 373-384.

Ackers, P., “Employment Ethics”, in Contemporary Human Resource Management: Text and Cases, Redman, T. and Wilkinson, A.J. (eds), FT Prentice Hall, 2013, 4th Edition: 451-465.

(See also: Greene, A.-M., Ackers, P. and Black, J., ''Lost Narratives? From Paternalism to Team Working in a Lock Manufacturing Firm'', Economic and Industrial Democracy, 22(2), May 2001: 211-237.

Research interests/expertise

Peter's current research follows four main, inter-linked themes.

First, he is working on the History of British academic Industrial Relations, since 1945, as this links social science developments to public policy practice and current academic theory. The centrepiece of this is a biographical study of Professor Hugh Clegg, a leading academic and policy-maker. See Peter’s articles in the BJIR (2007, 2011), Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2008, 2014), Socialist History (2011) and in Townsend & Wilkinson (2011). Peter is currently preparing papers on Clegg and Barbara Wootton’s writing on Incomes Policy, and on Clegg as a Trade Union Historian.

Second, Peter has developed a Neo-Pluralist approach to the Sociology of employment relations, building on the ‘Oxford School’ Industrial Relations of Clegg, Fox and Flanders and the sociology of Durkheim and Weber, as an alternative to both Radical and Unitarist (managerial) approaches. This acknowledges the real tensions between employers and employees, but stresses the scope for constructive dialogue. ‘Rethinking the employment relationship: a neo-pluralist critique of British industrial relations orthodoxy’, International Journal of Human Resource Management (2014), further develops the arguments of Ackers (2002) 'Reframing Employment Relations: The Case for Neo-Pluralism', Industrial Relations Journal. See these ideas applied to African employment relations in Kahn & Ackers (2004).

Third and related, Peter continues to publish on contemporary worker Participation and employer/ labour Partnership. He has collaborated on the research studies, New Developments in Employee Involvement (Marchington et al, UK Employment Department 1992) and Management Choice and Employee Voice (Marchington et al, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development 2001). Ackers & Payne (1998) 'British Trade Unions and Social Partnership', International Journal of Human Resource Management, made an early contribution to the UK Partnership debate and a recent joint work in this stream of publication is Johnstone et al (2009) 'The British Partnership Phenomenon: A Ten Year Review', Human Resource Management Journal. Ackers, ‘Trade Unions as Professional Associations’ in Johnstone & Ackers (2015) is the latest development of this argument.

Fourth, Peter is completing a new edited project for Palgrave, with Alastair Reid, a Historian at Girton College, Cambridge: Alternatives to State Socialism in Twentieth Century Britain: Other Worlds of Labour. This challenges State Socialist reading of C20th British labour by exploring other traditions of organizing within civil society, including trade unions, co-operatives, religious nonconformity, women’s community action and so on.

Peter has also published on coal-mining social history, including working-class religion and especially the Churches of Christ, as well as employer paternalism (see Featured Publications below); business ethics; gender and family-friendly policies; and Indian Industrial Relations.

Areas of teaching

Peter’s general teaching areas are: Employment Relations, HRM, Business Ethics and Twentieth Century Trade Union and Labour History. At DMU he is module leader for the HRM Project and Dissertation (HRMG 3005).

Qualifications

1979, MA Hons, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Class 2 (undivided), Lincoln College, Oxford University.

1981, MA, Industrial Relations, Warwick University.

1984, PGCE, Further and Higher Education, Wolverhampton University.

1988, MPhil, Wolverhampton University: ‘Changes in Workplace Industrial Relations in West Midlands Manufacturing Industry in the 1980s’ (supervisor John Black).

1993, PhD, Wolverhampton University (supervisor, Professor John Benson) ‘Christian Brethren, Union Brother: A Study of the Relationship between Religious Nonconformity and Trade Union Leadership, in the Life of the Coal Mining Deputies’ Official, WT Miller (1880-1963)’. External Examiner: Professor Chris Wrigley, Department of History, Nottingham University.

Honours and awards

'Collective Bargaining as Industrial Democracy: Hugh Clegg and the Political Foundations of British Industrial Relations Pluralism' was the British Journal of Industrial Relations 'Best Paper' for 2007.

Membership of professional associations and societies

Peter is on the Management Committee of, History & Policy: Trade Union Forum, an organization that seeks to learn policy lessons from the past.

And he is on the Council of The Chapels Society, a conservation organisation that protects non-Anglican religious building. This connects to his research on Labour History and working class religion.

Forthcoming events

During the autumn of 2015, Peter is speaking at a Nuffield College, Oxford conference on the ‘Oxford School of Industrial Relations’ and at the Manchester Industrial Relations Society on ‘Pluralism’ 

Current research students

Peter has supervised 10 students to PhD completion, as either sole or joint supervisor. He has examined 3 PhDs: at Manchester University, National University Ireland, Galway, and London School of Economics. He has also served as an Internal Examiner for 4 PhD students at Loughborough University, School and Business and Economics and, as an external assessor for a PhD progress panel at Kings College, London.

Peter has three current PhD supervisions: Jon Hoskin on Management-Trade Union Partnership; Sarah Cromie on Business in the Community and John Kimberley (all at Loughborough University).

He is particularly interested in supervising PhDs on Employee Voice, Trade Unions, Worker Participation, Partnership and British Labour History.

Externally funded research grants information

2003-5, ESRC Seminar programme, ‘Critical Perspectives on Career and Family-Friendly policies’, £15,687.77 (with Amal El-Sawad and Laurie Cohen, Loughborough University).

2004-5, The British Academy, Academic Industrial relations theory and the British trade union ‘problem’, 1945-1984, £3,099.

2005-6 (Nov to April), The Leverhulme Trust, ‘Study Abroad Fellowship’, £19,644 (original award, spent less), ‘The Development of Indian Industrial Relations’, to support a 5 month study leave visit to the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, India.

2012-2015 ‘Scientist in Charge’ & ‘co-investigator’, European Commission Marie Curie project of Dr Maurizio Atzeni (principal investigator) on ‘Workers’ organization in the informal sector’ (in Argentina) £202,424.

Professional esteem indicators

Joint Editor, Labour History Review (journal Society for the Study of Labour History) 2000-4.

 Associate Editorial Board (2011-13) and full Editorial Board (2002-4), Work, Employment and Society (a journal of the British Sociological Association).

Joint Cordinator, Theory Study Group, International Labour & Employment Relations Association (ILERA) since 2007.

2009 (Sept) Sir Alan Sewell Visiting Fellow, Business School, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

Helen Cam Visiting Fellow, Girton College, Cambridge (Semester 1: Sept. to January 2013/14)

Visiting Professor, Business School, Macquarie University, Sydney (July/ August 2015)

Case studies

Peter’s work on Employee Voice and Partnership between trade unions and management has strong policy relevance. He’s spoken twice at the annual CIPD Voice & Value conference at the LSE

He has also co-authored articles on Trade Union with Jim Moher in the 2014 and 2015 New Statesman TUC specials

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