Professor Chris Rees

Research interests


  • the sociology of work and employment
  • company law and UK corporate governance reform
  • board-level employee representation and voice
  • employee consultation and partnership employment relations
  • Labour Party policy on work, employment, and industrial strategy
  • materialist / radical pluralist ER, realist ontologies, labour process theory, critical realism


  • trade union approaches to corporate social responsibility
  • company-level employee participation across Europe
  • critical perspectives on employee engagement
  • the diffusion of employment practices in MNCs and cross-border mergers
  • employee involvement in lean production and TQM systems

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in undertaking doctoral research in any of these broad areas.

Some of my research outputs are available on Academia (and under the 'Publications' tab above).

You can also find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.


I lead both undergraduate and postgraduate modules in human resource management. These aim to equip students with a critical and contextual understanding of contemporary issues and debates, drawing from employment relations, the sociology of work, and political economy. We examine: the nature of the employment relationship and the regulation of work; connections between management practices and economic/political trends, labour markets, product markets etc; core areas of HR policy such as employee reward, employee voice, managing performance, and managing conflict; as well as topical issues such as emotional labour, the rise of the gig economy, 'good work' and the dignity of labour, health and well-being at work, and debates around automation and the future of work.

Personal profile

I joined Royal Holloway in 2008, having previously been a lecturer at Kingston University and a trade union research officer. I studied industrial relations at the University of Warwick in the 1990s and sociology at the University of Bristol in the 1980s. 

My research has included externally-funded projects on: employee involvement in lean production and TQM systems; employment practices and internal politics in cross-border MNC mergers; European information and consultation processes; employee voice and employee engagement; trade unions and corporate social responsibility in Europe; direct participation and partnership employment relations; corporate governance and board-level workforce engagement. I am currently collaborating with the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA) on a study of governance, work and voice in large UK firms. I am also doing some policy-related work on corporate governance reform for Labour Business.

The above projects have been funded from a variety of sources - including the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK government Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the European Commission, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), and employer consortia.

My research has been published in a number of reports and in a range of academic journals - including AI and Society, Business and Society, Economic and Industrial Democracy, Employee Relations, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Human Resource Development International, Human Resource Management, Human Resource Management Journal, Industrial Relations Journal, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Journal of Industrial Relations, Organization Studies, Personnel Review, Public Management Review, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, and Work Employment and Society.

I am co-editor with Lutz Preuss and Michael Gold of Corporate Social Responsibility and Trade Unions: Perspectives Across Europe (2015), and co-editor with Tony Edwards of International Human Resource Management: Globalization, National Systems and Multinational Companies (2006, 2010, 2017). I am currently co-editing a Research Handbook on the Sociology of Work (part of this series).

I was on the Associate Editorial Board of the journal Work Employment and Society for several years, and I am now on the Editorial Board of Human Relations. I am also a member of the BSABUIRA and SASE.

Thanks for reading this far! 

Educational background

PhD - University of Warwick

MA Industrial Relations (distinction) - University of Warwick

BSc Sociology (first) - University of Bristol

before all that ... Kidderminster FE College / Stourport High School

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