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The University of Southampton

MANG6177 Employee Relations

Module Overview

Employee relations is an ambiguous term, but one widely used in academia and amongst practitioners. Employee relations as an area of study and practice evolved from industrial relations, and has as its primary focus conflict in the employment relationship, employment and labour law, and unions and collective bargaining. Perhaps for this reason it is sometimes seen as irrelevant in the modern era of globalization. However, management, from line management to chief executives, have often found to their shock that in reality such matters can be crucial. The module explores the terrain of employee relations, building from the UK to wider OECD and international experience. It examines the historical development of the national employee relations contexts within which organizations operate and the continuing diversity of these national contexts in the face of the apparent pressures of globalization. The module also considers the implications of employee relations contexts for management and for organizational performance, and assesses whether managements may actively deploy partnership approaches to secure collective employee voice without conflict. As the module develops, students will apply the concepts, frameworks and approaches it introduces to develop their knowledge of a particular national context assigned to them, collecting and critically interpreting evidence from publicly available sources.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the place of conflict in the employee relations approach to examining the employment relationship;
  • the main actors in employee relations;
  • the nature and organizational implications of unions, collective bargaining, works councils and joint regulation in different countries in the EU, OECD and beyond;
  • the nature and organizational implications of legal or statutory regulation of the employment relationship;
  • the forces shaping unionism and joint regulation across countries;
  • the space for active management in a jointly regulated context, in terms in particular of partnership;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate organisational approaches to employee relations;
  • plan for and organise key employee relations activities;
  • consider the manner in which union presence and joint regulation may be most appropriately and effectively managed and responded to;
  • professionally influence or advise on the management of employee relations in organisations located in different national and industrial contexts.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop in-depth and critical evaluation skills, using multiple and competing perspectives in constructing arguments;
  • work in, and contribute effectively to, contemporary organizations by pursuing individual goals;
  • develop effective policies and practices with appropriate sensitivity and responsiveness to context, regarding e.g. employee relations;
  • evaluate the role and significance of qualitative and quantitative evidence in gauging linkages between contexts or practices and outcomes, including performance.


• What is employee relations and where do unions and social regulation come in? • Manifest conflicts, collective & individualized. • The comparative historical development of joint regulation and its explanation. • Cross-national comparative employee relations systems, from joint regulation to employment law. • The implications of joint regulation for management and for organizational performance. • Management-union partnerships, from procedure to substance.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Case studies • Directed reading • Small and large group discussions Learning activities include • An individual assignment • Case study problem solving • Directed reading • Action learning set discussion

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Blyton and Turnbull (2004). The Dynamics of Employee Relations. 

MacMillan library reference HD 6971 BLY, 7 copies (also available as library electronic resource)’ provides the best introduction to/foundation for the module sessions, although there are alternatives. However, the principal readings are journal articles available electronically via library e-journals assigned session by session through the module.. 



Set exercises - non-exam


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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