The changing systems of British industrial relations, 1954-1979: Hugh Clegg and the Warwick sociological turn

2014-06-25T12:31:25Z (GMT) by Peter Ackers
With hindsight, the appointment of Richard Hyman to the Warwick Industrial Relations (IR) group marked a new direction for the academic field. The 1960s Oxford IR group had already begun to borrow from sociological research to better understand and reform the workplace. Alan Fox was emerging as a sociologist. However, it was only after Hugh Clegg had established the Warwick Industrial Relations Research Unit (IRRU) that workplace sociology became a fully indigenous part of British IR, illustrated by both Hyman's Marxist analysis and Eric Batstone's qualitative factory studies. This article charts the development of Oxford/Warwick social science through the shifting content of the three ‘System’ texts. IR pluralism proved unsuccessful as public policy reform, but Clegg's Warwick research programme fostered a theoretical and empirical engagement between pluralism and radical sociology that revitalized the field. Alongside Clegg's post-Donovan determination to study management, this new intellectual dynamic facilitated the 1980s emergence of a sceptical and empirical tradition of IR-shaped HRM in British business schools.