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Marilena Antoniadou and Mark Crowder, MMU Decent Work and Productivity Centre

21st January 2022

Book Launch: Decent Work, Opportunities and Challenges.  A collection of contributions from staff from their work at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The title of the book originated from an idea of Julia Rouse, one of our most iconic Professors and inspirational  leadersof our Research Centre, during a discussion about the name for the new Centre.  From a shortlist of three the one that immediately stood out was ‘Decent Work’.  This is controversial:don’t we want great work? And what does Decent mean?

There is still little consensus as to what “Decent Work” should be but the purpose of the book is to offer some answers while exploring different perspectives.   It also introduces readers to the work of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre of Manchester Metropolitan University.

The Centre felt that there was room for an additional voice: in the noise of the political debate about “Good Work” and “Good Jobs”, we often ignore that the labour market was undergoing radical transformations,  the global economy is in a four-decade long synchronised slowdown alongside huge population increases and, crucially, the number of ‘good jobs’ (jobs that give a measure of security of income to allow workers to plan for the future) being sufficient for only one third of the adult population around the world (Gallup, 2019). This is before we address the pandemic, and its effect on health and employment, and evidence that some employers are misusing the relentlessly increasing balance of power they are enjoying.

A unique aspect of the book is the integration of empirical real-life cases from experienced professionals and leading academics that offer readers a greater understanding of decent work issues and opportunities.   We explore issues surrounding Decent Work for individuals, organisations and society as a whole and what can be done to shape a decent future for workers and work.

There is special emphasis in the book on

  • the changing nature of the current workplace with a focus on the gig economy, precarious work and the informal economy, and influence this is having on organisations offering “Decent” work and the risk of this work being undermined.
  • An examination of contemporary human resource practices and evaluate their impact on productivity and the quality of working life
  • thelimits and extent to which current employment relationships enable workers to influence the quality of their work experience, and their productivity.
  • the extent to which the rewards available from work are both fair and equitable and drive worker productivity. The book draws and builds on the work of Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner
  • Research on sustainability issues that portrays how thinking and reporting has evolved in recent years to include staff/employees and a discussion on how this enables the co-evolution of wider sustainability action alongside enhanced decent work practices.

The principal aim of this book is to highlight a collection of key challenges in this emerging field and suggest ways to tackle these challenges.   The main intention is to promote and raise awareness of“Decent Work” and position the concept so that it addresses more forcefully important questions about the future of work, utilising high quality research.

The authors are members of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre, coming from disciplines including economics, labour market studies, organisation studies, sociology, psychology, career development and education.   Our hope is that you will find this book relevant to your existing or potential work, regardless of where you live, helping you understand the nature, challenges and opportunities of fair and decent working lives.

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