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Transitioning to democratic work

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: NBS1

It has long been argued that the democratisation of workplaces can positively transform power relations at work (Raelin, 2020; Wolff, 2012; Parker et al., 2014), and improve employee voice (Rau and Koch-Gonzalez, 2018; Griffin et al., 2015). Democratic work practices of self-management, deliberative decision-making and democratic governance (Malleson, 2014; Kokkinidis, 2015; Kociatkiewicz et al., 2021), have long been argued to have the potential to transform working relationships by shifting ownership and control into the hands of workers (Malleson, 2013), and creating opportunities for them to learn to negotiate power and voice (Griffin et al., Forthcoming; Rau and Koch-Gonzalez, 2018; Parker et al., 2014). Yet often they fail (Basterretxea et al., 2020). Despite their intentions, organizations seeking to democratise often struggle with the process of transforming towards democratic structures (Puusa and Saastamoinen, 2021). Research is therefore needed to help understand how to support organizations transitioning to democratic work in a way that successfully redistributes power and voice.

The central ambition of this project is to develop methodologies to improve the capacity of UK organizations to overcome barriers to democratisation and transition to democratic work. It will do this through co-constructing methodologies, tools and interventions (Andriessen, 2007; Lee et al., 2018; Sharma and Kirkman, 2015; van Baarle et al., 2021) to support organizations seeking to democratise (Gronouwe et al., 2021), that are designed, tested and evaluated and can be transferred to other contexts. The project aims to work with and in organizations that are seeking to democratise to help develop approaches that can support their democratic transitions.

The candidate for this project should ideally have an interest in democratic work or alternative approaches to organizing, particularly from a Critical Management Studies or Organizational Studies viewpoint. Experience of working in these organizations would be desirable but is not essential. The project offers opportunities to develop interventions working with organizations attempting to democratise and learn from the process of engaging with and in organizations. It is envisaged that an interpretivist approach will be taken.

If you have any queries or want to discuss anything prior to your submission, please email the NBS PhD Programme Director and Course Leader, Dr. Ishan Jalan or NBS Associate Dean for Research, Prof. Alistair Bruce. We look forward to receiving your proposals

School strategic research priority

This research project aligns with the Centre for People, Work and Organisational Practice.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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