Homepage Slider

Research Impact

Members of the Department and regularly involved in impactful research. Recent examples include the following:
Zero Hours
  • A team from the Department of Personnel & Employment Relations were commissioned in 2015 by the Irish government to undertake the first national study of zero hours contracts - A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts among Irish Employers and their Impact on Employees. As part of the study, the authors analysed working hours data from the Central Statistics Office and carried out in-depth interviews with trade unions, employer organisations, civil society organisations, governmental departments, state agencies, and legal experts. The study paid particular attention to practices in four sectors – retail, health, education and hospitality. The study found no evidence of zero hours contracts, which has a specific definition in working time legislation, but did find evidence of zero hours work practices through ‘If and When’ contracts. These are contracts where someone is not guaranteed any hours of work by an employer and is only paid for hours of work done. The report concluded that there are legal deficiencies in the protection of people on ‘If and When’ contracts and made a series of recommendations including changes to employment legislation and improvements in national data collection tools.
  • The authors of the report are Dr. Michelle O’Sullivan, Dr. Tom Turner, Dr. Juliet McMahon, Dr. Lorraine Ryan, Dr. Jonathan Lavelle, Dr. Caroline Murphy, Mike O’Brien and Professor Patrick Gunnigle. Click here to download the report

Irish Defence Forces Report
  • In 2015, Dr Sarah Mac Curtain, Dr Juliet mac Mahon and Claire Harnett completed an extensive workplace climate survey for the Irish Defence Force. The remit was to investigate members’ levels of satisfaction with their employment in the Defence Forces, along with other factors such as commitment, leadership and perceptions of fairness and work life balance. The study explored the attitudes of Defence Forces personnel to their working lives across a wide range of areas. Overall, the study revealed that satisfaction with military life has fallen in comparison with a previous survey carried out in 2008. Many of the over 1,000 respondents from all ranks said they still enjoy their work and are proud of what they do, with over 60% indicating that they felt they were doing something worthwhile for their country. However, issues such as pay and commuting emerged as significant problems, with 27% considering leaving because of the commuting issue. The survey was carried out among 11per cent of the workforce and was representative of rank, gender, and location. The report includes a number of recommendations, such as managers increasing their daily engagement with members, more mentoring and coaching for leaders, and a review of opportunities for promotions
  • The Defence Forces Climate Survey 2016 report has been officially published by the Defence Forces and is available here
  • The researchers are now completing phase two of the study which involved in depth focus groups across the Defences forces including units overseas in the Golan heights

Employment practice in multinational companies
  • Over the past decade a number of complementary studies on various dimensions of employment practice in multinational companies (MNCs) have been undertaken by Department members.
  • The first such project focused on industrial relations in MNCs which had established at Greenfield sites in Ireland. Funded by the Department of Enterprise and Employment this study found that the MNCs studied largely implemented ‘home country’ practices, entailing significant union avoidance.
  • The second project entailed a study of employment practices in American owned MNC subsidiaries in four European countries (Germany, Ireland, Spain and the UK), funded in Ireland by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Irish Research Council. Part of an international research collaboration, key findings to emerge in Ireland were the differential impact of country of origin and host country effects on MNCs’ employment practices, the distinctiveness of US MNCs and their influence on the differing national business systems in which their subsidiaries were located. 
  • A third research project, “Employment Relations in Multinational Companies: Cross National Comparative Analysis”, entailed completion of the first large-scale representative survey of employment practices in MNCs in Ireland. This research project attracted funding from a variety of sources, primarily the EU Framework Programme 7, the Irish Research Council and the Labour Relations Commission. This work provides a baseline study which profiles the population of MNCs in Ireland on dimensions such as sector, scale, ownership and product diversity as well as providing detailed information on employment practices. The Irish study formed part of coordinated parallel surveys of employment practice in MNCs in 10 countries, involving some 15 universities and business schools in Australia, the Americas and Europe.
  • The fourth research project, entitled “Multinational corporations, sub-national governance and human resources”, was supported by the Irish Research Council. Key findings from this project included insights into how coalitions of actors coalesce at a subnational level to attract and embed multinational investment in a regional location, variation in the role and impact of these actors, the serendipity of clustering of MNCs in Ireland, the importance of understanding and managing micro-politics within MNCs and the impact of the recession on human resource management (HRM) and industrial relations. Again this work was part of collaborative parallel studies by research teams in Canada, Ireland, Spain and the UK.
  • Click here for further information on these research projects
  • Faculty involved include Prof Patrick Gunnigle, Dr Jonathan Lavelle, Dr Sarah MacCurtain, Prof Kevin Murphy, Dr Michelle O’Sullivan and Prof Tom Turner.

The Bright Side of Work
  • Dr Deirdre O’Shea with international colleagues from Germany, Canada and Chile are passionate that work should be a positive experience for workers. Since 2010, their awarding winning research has investigated the ways in which employees can be trained to change the ways in which they think about and experience work to enhance their well-being and engagement in work.
  • In Ireland, they have worked with various private and public sector organisations to design and deliver psychological resource-based interventions. For example, in 2014, they designed and delivered an intervention offered to over 700 staff of the Revenue Commissioners, Border, Midlands and West (BMW) region to tackle issues regarding staff morale.
  • For updates on the Bright Side of Work project, visit the project site: https://www.researchgate.net/project/The-Bright-Side-of-Work
  • For related research specifically focusing on the benefits of being grateful, visit: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Thesis-WELLBEING-BEGINS-WITH-WE-NOT-ME-PSYCHOSOCIAL-BENEFITS-OF-GRATITUDE-INTERVENTIONS
  • If you or your organisation are interested in finding out more about the project or becoming involved, please e-mail: deirdre.oshea@ul.ie