MIRS will be holding their final meeting of the academic year on Thursday 12 May, 6pm-7.30pm, when Professor Peter Turnbull (University of Bristol) will be presenting on his recent work on industrial relations and activist-scholars in the neoliberal business school (see below). We are planning to hold the meeting in person (in G34, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School) with a social event afterwards, and the meeting will also be accessible remotely. The registration link is below, and let us know via the Eventbrite form whether you’d like to attend in person or remotely – the meeting may be held solely as an online event depending on numbers able to attend in person, but we will confirm and finalise this by Friday 6 May.


A Zoom link will be sent to those attending remotely prior to the event.

We look forward to seeing some of you then.

Stephen Mustchin

Secretary, Manchester Industrial Relations Society

What do (industrial relations) academics do? Activist-scholars in the neo-liberal business school 

Peter Turnbull, University of Bristol 

According to the late Willy Brown, a “long tradition of evidence-based policy on employment relations appears to be in jeopardy”, not least because, as Keith Sisson has pointed out, those who run our business schools fail to support industrial relations (IR) research, running the risk that “these schools will soon have nothing whatsoever to say about the fundamental challenges confronting British business.” To be sure, business schools rarely “shout from the rooftops that the employment relationship is of fundamental importance” (Sisson, 2019: 578), but IR scholars appear to be ‘at home’ in the business school, certainly when compared to critical management studies (CMS) scholars (Parker, 2015), and they have adapted far better to the challenges of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Based on interviews with forty-seven IR business school scholars, purposively selected to include early career and more ‘established’ researchers, women and men, and most notably those who submitted impact cases for REF2014, we demonstrate that activism is not only still possible but highly productive. IR researchers are not only active in terms of research outputs and impact beyond the academy, but also in relation to their teaching and leadership/citizenship within the business school. Our clarion call is to support early career researchers whose activist ambitions ‘carry many risks that were less threatening to job security in the era of social democratic state pluralism’ (Stewart and Martínez Lucio, 2017: 549).