Skip to content

Professor Jonathan Payne

Job: Professor of Work, Employment and Skills

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester Castle Business School

Research group(s): Director of the People, Organisations and Work Institute (POWI)

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

T: +44 (0)116 257 7236

E: jpayne@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/bal

 

Personal profile

Jonathan Payne is Professor of Work, Employment and Skills and Director of the People, Organisations and Work Institute (POWI). His main research interests include the political economy of skill, workplace innovation, UK skills policy, low wage work, job quality, and digital automation.

He has published extensively in these areas and is a co-author of 'Skills in the Age of Over-Qualification: Comparing Service Sector Work in Europe' (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Prior to working in higher education, Jonathan was a teacher in mainstream secondary schools. He has extensive teaching experience and is currently module leader for the postgraduate MA/PGDip module in ‘Employee Resourcing’.

He is a member of the editorial board of the 'British Journal of the Sociology of Education' and an associate member of the research network on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE), for whom he was a lead researcher between 1998 and 2012.

He has advised policy makers on skills utilisation, lifelong learning and workplace innovation in Scotland, England, Finland and Norway.

He is currently researching the impact of digital automation on jobs, skills and wider job quality, and is the principal investigator on a Leverhulme-funded research project entitled: 'Digital technologies and job quality: do trade unions make a difference?' ((£166,000, May 2020-January 2023). The study draws upon interviews with trade unions in selected sectors in Norway and the UK.

He is also conducting a project looking at the role of third sector organisations in helping the unemployed into work which examines the scope for a 'co-designed' approach to developing personalised packages of support, along with the role of employer engagement.

Research group affiliations

People, Organisations and Work Institute (POWI) and the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA)

Publications and outputs 

  • Fewer jobs, better jobs? An international comparative study of robots and ‘routine’ work in the public sector
    Fewer jobs, better jobs? An international comparative study of robots and ‘routine’ work in the public sector Lloyd, Caroline; Payne, Jonathan Routine manual work is often considered particularly vulnerable to digitalisation. Alongside potential employment effects, jobs are expected to change in terms of task and skill requirements. This article contributes to debates on the pace of digitalisation and the impact on low-skilled manual work through a study of transport robots in public hospitals in Norway and Scotland. Drawing on qualitative research, the findings are used to analyse the role of unions, as part of ‘country’ and ‘sector’ effects, shaping digitalisation and its outcomes. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • Food for thought: Robots, jobs and skills in food and drink processing in Norway and the UK
    Food for thought: Robots, jobs and skills in food and drink processing in Norway and the UK Lloyd, Caroline; Payne, Jonathan There is intense debate surrounding digitalisation and its implications for work. However, empirical research within established workplaces, especially international comparative studies, remains limited. This article uses cross-country research to further analysis of the relative importance of different institutions, actors and power relations in shaping digitalisation and worker outcomes. Through a multi-level approach, it compares the use of industrial robots in the food and drink processing sector in Norway and the UK. Drawing on qualitative research, it explores the pace of digitalisation, the process of implementation, and job and skills outcomes. The study finds strong national differences in the pace of digitalisation, and the role of unions in the process of implementation. In Norway, union power at workplace and national level, embedded in institutional arrangements, underpins more advanced use of technology and improved outcomes for workers. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Rethinking country effects: Robotics, AI and work futures in Norway and the UK
    Rethinking country effects: Robotics, AI and work futures in Norway and the UK Lloyd, Caroline; Payne, Jonathan Current debates around robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are dominated by concerns over the threat to employment, amid widely varying estimates of potential job losses. Countries are expected to fare differently, but there is little comparative research that goes beyond analysing industry and occupational structures. This article rethinks ‘country effects’ by exploring the role of institutions and social actors in shaping technological change in Norway and the UK. Drawing upon interviews with technology experts, employer associations and trade unions, it examines their perspectives on public policy support for the development and diffusion of robotics and AI, along with potential consequences for employment, work and skills. The research indicates significant country differences and the continued relevance of institutions, interests and power in analysing country effects. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Hard times in latte land? Analysing pay and working time in the café industry in France, Norway and the UK
    Hard times in latte land? Analysing pay and working time in the café industry in France, Norway and the UK Payne, Jonathan; Lloyd, Caroline Industrial relations and employment regulation are central elements of the national institutional framework shaping country-level differences in job quality. However, researchers are also interested in within-country variation by sector. International sector comparisons can shed light on the role of national institutions, individual employer approaches and workplace unions in shaping outcomes within a sector. This article uses qualitative data on pay and working time in the café industry in France, Norway and the UK to weigh the effects of institutions and employer differentiation on worker outcomes in a sector particularly challenging for union organisation. The findings identify the importance of national institutions for worker outcomes, and for shaping the scope at organisational level for employers and unions to make a difference. This is the accepted manuscript of the paper due to be published in the journal, 'Economic and Industrial Democracy', currently awaiting proofs.
  • LE(a)P in the dark? Devolution, local skills strategies and inclusive growth in England
    LE(a)P in the dark? Devolution, local skills strategies and inclusive growth in England Payne, Jonathan A central challenge for local skills strategies is whether they can contribute to ‘inclusive growth’ including ‘more and better jobs’ across a local economy. Skills strategies, it has been argued, must go beyond simply boosting skills supply and be integrated with policies that shape employer demand for, and utilisation of, skills, including economic development and business improvement. Among developed countries, this is particularly challenging for neo-liberal economies, with weakly regulated labour markets where many firms compete through low wages and low-skill job design. How much progress can be made locally is unclear. The article focuses on England, a highly centralised neo-liberal economy, with high levels of low-wage work and over-qualification. Since 2010, UK governments have promised to empower local communities to drive growth, reforming the infrastructure for sub-national economic development and localising elements of skills policy, as part of a devolution agenda for England set in the context of austerity. There are important questions around how local actors understand the ‘skills problem’ and whether they can evolve integrative approaches that might contribute to inclusive growth. Drawing upon qualitative research with local actors in the Midlands, the article explores their assumptive worlds in order to shed light on opportunities and constraints. The research was partly funded with DMU funds through the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA) at DMU The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Hearing music in service interactions: A theoretical and empirical analysis
    Hearing music in service interactions: A theoretical and empirical analysis Payne, Jonathan; Korczynski, Marek; Cluley, Rob There is an extensive literature concerned with the impact of music on customers. However, no study has examined its effects on service workers and their interactions with customers. Drawing together literatures on service work and music in everyday life, the article develops a theoretical framework for exploring the role of music in service exchanges. Two central factors are identified – how workers hear, and respond, to the music soundscape, and their relations with customers, given these have the potential to be both alienating and positive to the point of meaningful social interaction. From these, a 2×2 matrix is constructed, comprising four potential scenarios. The authors argue for the likely importance of music’s role as a bridge for sociality between worker and customer. The article considers this theorising by drawing upon interviews with 60 retail and café workers in UK chains and independents, and free text comments collected through a survey of workers in a large service retailer. The findings show broad support for music acting as a bridge for sociality. Service workers appropriate music for their own purposes and many use this to provide texture and substance to social interactions with customers. The paper has been accepted for publication and the journal confirms this author version can be uploaded on the university repository. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Licensed to skill? The impact of occupational regulation on fitness instructors
    Licensed to skill? The impact of occupational regulation on fitness instructors Lloyd, Caroline; Payne, Jonathan The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • The changing meaning of skill: still contested, still important
    The changing meaning of skill: still contested, still important Payne, Jonathan
  • Skills in the Age of Over-Qualification: Comparing Service Sector Work in Europe
    Skills in the Age of Over-Qualification: Comparing Service Sector Work in Europe Lloyd, Caroline; Payne, Jonathan
  • Towards a broad-based innovation policy in the UK: Can design help?
    Towards a broad-based innovation policy in the UK: Can design help? Payne, Jonathan

Click here to see a full listing of Jonathan Payne's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Key recent research outputs include:

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2019) ‘Rethinking country effects: robots, AI and work futures in Norway and the UK, New Technology, Work and Employment, 34(3): 208-225.

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2018) ‘Hard times in latte land? Analysing pay and working time in the café industry in France, Norway and the UK’, Economic and Industrial Democracy, published on line November 2018

Payne, J. (2018) ‘LE(a)P in the dark? Devolution, local skills strategies and inclusive growth in England’, Journal of Education and Work, 31(5-6): 489-502.

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2018) Licensed to skill? The impact of occupational regulation on fitness instructors, European Journal of Industrial Relations, 24(1), 91-108.

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2016) Skills in the Age of Over-Qualification: Comparing Service Sector Work in Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Research interests/expertise

The political economy of skill

Skills policy

Workplace innovation

Job quality

Low wage work

Automation and the future of work

Areas of teaching

Employee Resourcing (postgraduate)

Dissertation supervision

Qualifications

BA (Hons) Politics (University of York) 1987

MA (econ) Political Theory (University of Manchester) 1989

PGCE (University of East Anglia) 1991

Courses taught

Employee Resourcing module (MA/PGDip)

Membership of professional associations and societies

HEA Associate Fellow (2016)

Projects

Jonathan is currently researching the impact of digital automation on jobs, skills and wider job quality, and is the principal investigator on a Leverhulme-funded research project entitled 'Digital technologies and job quality: do trade unions make a difference?' (£160,633, May 2020-January 2023). The study draws upon interviews with trade unions in selected sectors in Norway and the UK.

He is also conducting a project looking at the role of third sector organisations in helping the unemployed into work which examines the scope for a 'co-designed' approach to developing personalised packages of support, along with the role of employer engagement.

Conference attendance

Jonathan has presented numerous papers at a range of international conferences including the International Labour Process Conference, SASE, BUIRA, and the Work, Employment and Society conference.

Key research outputs

Key recent research outputs include:

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2019) ‘Rethinking country effects: robots, AI and work futures in Norway and the UK, New Technology, Work and Employment, 34(3): 208-225.

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2018) ‘Hard times in latte land? Analysing pay and working time in the café industry in France, Norway and the UK’, Economic and Industrial Democracy, published on line November 2018

Payne, J. (2018) ‘LE(a)P in the dark? Devolution, local skills strategies and inclusive growth in England’, Journal of Education and Work, 31(5-6): 489-502.

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2018) Licensed to skill? The impact of occupational regulation on fitness instructors, European Journal of Industrial Relations, 24(1), 91-108.

Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2016) Skills in the Age of Over-Qualification: Comparing Service Sector Work in Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Consultancy work

  • In September 2020, I gave advice to members of a team within the Department of Education (DfE) working on the forthcoming Further Education white paper interested in the role of FE in supporting employer demand for, and use of, skills.
  • In November 2018, I presented research on the impact of robotics in the food and drink processing sector to the Norwegian food workers’ union (NNN) annual conference in Oslo.
  • In June 2018, I presented research on the impact of robotics/AI on work and employment in the UK and Norway to a roundtable audience including the social partners in Norway.
  • In June 2017, I was invited to a roundtable discussion with the Chief Secretary of the Treasury and Economic Advisors on ‘The future of occupational regulation and its impact on the UK labour market’, to draw on my expertise in this area.
  • In July 2016, I was an expert advisor and reviewer for the Government Office for Science Foresight Team’s Review of skills and lifelong learning in Britain.
  • Provided feedback to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research on apprenticeships in Norway and the UK (1999 and 2002).
  • Feedback on the Finnish Workplace Development Programme used to inform discussions within the Finnish Ministry of Labour (2003).
  • Unpublished report on Recognition of Non-Formal and Informal Learning in Norway used as a basis for an overarching OECD report on RNIFL.
  • Discussions with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on the 2009 skills strategy, Skills for Growth.
  • Advice to key Scottish policy makers/stakeholders on skills utilisation policy in Scotland through the running of a high-level ministerial policy seminar (2011),
  • Advice to the Scottish Funding Council and the Skills Committee on the future development of its programme of skills utilisation projects (2011).

Current research students

  • PhD Student (part-time) John Kimberley ‘Edward Cadbury – Paternalistic employer or Quaker-inspired pathfinder of British industrial relations pluralism and women workers’ champion?' (first supervisor).
  • PhD Student (part-time) Adele Brown ‘Leicester’s loyals: Causes of graduate underemployment in Leicester and implications for the economic and social value of local graduates to the city.’ (second supervisor)

Externally funded research grants information

'Digital technologies and job quality: do trade unions make a difference?', Leverhulme Research Grant, 2020-2023, principal investigator with Caroline Lloyd (Cardiff University), award: £160,633.

'Days of Future Past? The impact of robots on work in the UK and Norway', British Academy small grant, 2017-2019, co-investigator with Caroline Lloyd (Cardiff University), award: £9,640.

Internally funded research project information

"Co-designing pathways to decent work? A case study of two third sector projects in England working with the long-term unemployed, economically inactive and young people who are NEET", Business and Law Research Fund, November 2020-April 2021, co-investigator with Dr. Peter Butler.

 

Professional esteem indicators

Editorial board member of the British Journal of the Sociology of Education and the regular reviewer for the Industrial Relations Journal. In addition, I review submitted papers to wide range of key journals including New Technology, Work and Employment, Human Relations, and the Journal of Education and Work.

 

Search Who's Who