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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

A. Research Groups, Fields, and Focus

i. The HRM Research Group

A major growth area of research activity within Coventry Business School (CBS) since 1996 has been within the area of Human Resource Management (HRM). The HRM Research Group draws on the expertise of a pool of scholars teaching in postgraduate management programmes and consists of :

Dr Geoffrey Wood (Director)
Mr Graham Godfrey
Ms Geraldine Hammersley
Mr Tony Mallier
Dr Kamel Mellahi
Dr David Morris
Dr Maxine Robertson
A common theme of the Group’s work is its focus on the challenges of HRM in the late 1990s and early 2000s in the context of a globalised world economy. The Group’s work has resulted in numerous articles in major academic journals, articles in practitioner journals, and conference papers. Over the period under review, and in addition to the outputs submitted, Group members were also responsible for 2 books, 12 book chapters, and 17 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

ii. Current HRM Research Group Projects

The HRM Research Group is currently engaged in a number of ongoing research projects encompassing a wide range of issues concerned with the role of people within work organizations. These fall into a number of distinct categories: Alternative management strategies (such as TQM, involvement and participation); international and comparative HRM; trade union renewal, occupational stress and health management, and ageing workforces. Current issues being investigated include HR practice within the Middle East (Mellahi), trade union renewal (Wood); the impact of new forms of work organization in the motor and textiles industries (Morris, Wood, Hammersley); leading edge research on the regional dimension of ageing workforces (Mallier); human resource development in transitional economies (Wood); and contemporary TQM practice (Hammersley, Godfrey). The research activities are funded from a range of statutory and private sector sources. There is considerable room for prospective graduate students to become actively involved in several of these projects.

iii. Linkages with UK and Overseas Universities

Much of the work conducted by members of the Group is collaborative in nature, centering around linkages with practitioners and academics at national and major overseas universities. The Group is committed to contributing to the policy and practice of HRM in the United Kingdom, both through locally based research and international comparative work. More specifically, within the UK, members of the Group are engaged in long-term collaborative work with academics at the Centre for European Human Resource Management and the Centre for Strategic Trade Union Management at Cranfield University and the Seafarers' International Research Centre at University of Wales, Cardiff. The joint projects with Cranfield concern trade union governance in South Africa and the United Kingdom, although other areas of research collaboration are currently being explored. In a research project to be sponsored by the Seafarers International Research Centre, the Group will be investigating Human Resource Development within the shipping industry in southern Africa.
The Group is committed to maintaining existing research linkages with a number of major overseas Universities. Most notably, members of the Group are engaged in long-term collaborative research projects with academics at McGill University (Montreal, Canada), Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa), University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), and Waikato University (Hamilton, New Zealand). We believe that these linkages provide the basis for innovative comparative work, and for the valuable cross-fertilization in the employment of the most recent theoretical advances and research tools. More specifically, we believe we have made a significant contribution to explaining the continued strength of employee collectives in transitional economies. We are actively exploring the possibility of developing new linkages with other major international universities.

iv. Methods and Funding

The Group’s research work is based on a wide range of different methodologies, most notably participant observation, in-depth interviews and quantitative surveys. It should be noted that within the United States, research within the humanities tends to be considerably more quantitative than is the case within the United Kingdom. As a result of our linkages with McGill, we are making increased use of the most recent techniques for statistical data analysis, which, we believe will enrich the discourse of HRM research within the UK. Currently, significant research funders include the National Research Foundation of South Africa and SIRC at the University of Wales. We are currently in the process of soliciting additional research funding from a number of domestic and overseas sources. Recently, a grant application has been forwarded to the ESRC, together with Professor Chris Brewster’s Centre for European Human Resource Management of Cranfield University.

The Group is dedicated to enhancing the profile of the School as a centre for international excellence in the area of HRM. Our strategy hinges around the maintenance and expansion of our international research linkages, on enhancing our funding base, ongoing high quality applied and empirical work, and by continuing to publish in the major academic journals in the field to enrich both policy and practice.

B. Related work

Related work has been submitted into the Politics UoA 39, dealing with the activities of trans-national firms. However, the researcher involved is also actively engaged in joint work with members of the HRM Research Group. See for example: Frynas, G., Beck, M. and Mellahi, K. 2000. „Maintaining Corporate Dominance after Decolonization: The First Mover advantage of Shell-BP Nigeria“, Review of African Political Economy, 27,85: 407-426 (ISSN 0305-6244). The Group accepts the essentially multi-disciplinary nature of research in the management sciences, and has conducted extensive research on the process of macro-economic adjustment, labour market reform and democratisation in Mozambique, Angola, South Africa and Kenya (see also Section E).
C. Support for Research

At University level, support for research is emphasised in the University’s Mission Statement. Research policy is determined by the Academic Board with advice from the Research Committee, chaired by the Pro-Vice Chancellor with special responsibility of research. A University Research Degrees Committee approves research degree arrangements. Institutional monitoring of research occurs in several ways. The Research Committee receives annual reports on University funded research activity whilst the Research Degrees Committee receives annual and stage reports on research studentships and provides courses in research supervision of research students for inexperienced staff.

Coventry Business School (CBS) as a whole values research activity in its own right and as an essential underpinning to teaching, particularly at the higher levels. CBS is a major provider of professional and academic courses in HRM. It is also vital in the development of an inquisitive and challenging academic atmosphere within the school. The HRM Research Group has recently launched a dedicated seminar series, and a series of occasional papers.
D. Facilities for Research

CBS has invested heavily in electronic databases to provide as much access as is possible to journal articles at the desk-top. Research active staff are provided with all the ICT facilities they require to conduct their work. Staff are also provided with computer access to the electronic library and the School's extensive computer systems from their homes. All research students have high quality office space within the CBS building. Researchers are given practical help with data collection and analysis through providing help with surveys, interview transcriptions and related work.

Much of the Group’s research work is undertaken in collaboration with industry. In particular the outputs reported in the RA2 include work on human resource development, employee involvement and knowledge management carried out in close collaboration with major commercial organisations (see for example, publications by Hammersley, Robertson and Wood).

E. Interdisciplinary Work

The Group is fully committed to promoting interdisciplinary work and this has led to joint publications with experts in other cognate disciplines (see, for example, Wood, G. and Haines, R. 1998, „Tentative Steps towards Multi-Partyism in Mozambique“, Party Politics, 4,1: 107-114 (ISSN 1354.0688)). The Group is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between democratization and labour market reform in transitional economies.

F. Relations with End- Users

The Group is fully committed to conducting research of wider economic and social relevance; full details on consultancy and other linkages are provided in Section 6 of this form. See also the external reports of D. Morris listed in RA2.


Research is promoted and developed in HRM in a number of ways. Research active staff have their activities recognised within schedules of work in the form of reduced requirements to undertake teaching or administrative activities. Such arrangements are normally agreed between staff and their subject leaders during appraisal interviews. Some staff are also given full leave from other duties to complete major pieces of research work.

All staff are encouraged to attend conferences particularly if they are presenting papers. Where new researchers are involved the experience of participating in a reputable conference may be an end in itself. For more experienced researchers conference participation is seen as part of the route towards developing publishable work.

Internally, the School runs a number of research seminar series, in addition to the programme of dedicated seminars in HRM. All research students are expected to give at least one seminar per year to their peers and academic staff outlining progress with their work. Active researchers within the school also give staff seminars on their work. These are supplemented by an active programme of seminars by external academics.


Within the overall research aims of contributing to the body of management knowledge and supporting high quality teaching CBS has set the following objectives:
¨ To emphasise the importance of research qualifications and credentials in the appointment of staff
¨ To improve research identity by forming further research groups
¨ To reward high achievement
¨ To support a strong research interest in young and newly-appointed staff
¨ To continuously improve the research infrastructure
¨ To develop significant clusters of well-trained research students
The roots of the Group can be seen in the 1996 RAE submission and its current activity and standing represent major progress since then.


In 1996 we included five researchers within our UoA 43 submission who were listed under the heading "Management". Two left the University shortly after the census date (Leonard and Pinnington). One (Finlay) is now working in other research areas. However five of the researchers now included under the Human Resource Management heading (Hammersley, Godfrey, Mellahi, Morris and Robertson) have been with CBS for a significant period of time and have developed their careers in HRM research.

The work reported in 1996 under "Local Economic Development" is now submitted to UoA 35. The 1996 submission also included three staff under the heading of "Purchasing and Supply Chain Management". Two of these were young researchers who left CBS to take up posts within prominent research groups at 5 ranked universities. These staff losses, together with the move of two other young researchers in the area to significant posts elsewhere, led to a decision to reduce our commitment to the Supply Chain Management Centre although this is still very active within the University from an engineering management perspective and CBS staff (cf. Saunders) still contribute to it. Significant progress has been made since 1996. This is evidenced in a number of ways:
¨ The much higher degree of focus of the current submission; there is now an active Group working on a sufficiently defined set of issues to enable them to feed off each other in a highly positive way.
¨ The majority of outputs listed in the RA2 are now in peer reviewed journals of high quality.
¨ There has been significant externally funded research (for example the projects on Working Hours of Junior Doctors and Managing Emergency Admissions in the NHS, which has assisted in the identification of viable policy options)
¨ CBS staff are now working both independently and in collaboration with colleagues from major research groups elsewhere.
¨ There has been a major increase in successful research degree completions; in the 1992-1996 period there were just three in CBS as a whole. In the 1997-2000 period there have been seven in the HRM area alone. These students have significant research outputs in their own right, for example refereed conference papers and joint articles.

Teaching in Management received a rating of 22 in the recent QAA exercise; this was partially due to the extent to which the Group’s research activities resulted in innovative course offerings.

Research work not reported in RAE 2001, but which is currently being developed in CBS, includes concentrations on sports industries, marketing, and management and business education. We expect work in these areas to be submitted in any subsequent RAE.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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