Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Research
  3. Research activity
  4. Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures

Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures

Societies and workplaces are experiencing profound change, driven by developments in technology, shifts in geo-political power and the climate emergency.

Rapid technological advances in computing, robotics and communications are revolutionising work, in more traditional manufacturing and industry but also in the service and platform sectors. Much of everyday working life is now automated, with the trend set to continue into knowledge-based and more skilled forms of work. Piecemeal, project-based or precarious work is becoming ever more normalised, raising all kinds of questions about the validity of established concepts of management, leadership and resistance beyond more traditional employment relations.

Meanwhile, as a menacing spectre on the horizon - and already ravaging significant parts of the planet, particularly the developing world - the climate emergency and the unequivocal need to make the world carbon neutral as soon as possible raises the urgent question of how to create sustainable economies and societies in a way that secures the future of the planet and all humans, animals and wildlife that inhabit it. 

This potent cocktail of forces and trends is with us and it is now only a matter of how organisations choose to respond - either in ways that disempower or in ways that offer a more empowering future for all members of society. The Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures (REEF) academic centre of excellence is committed to the latter through pursuing research that:

  • furthers the egalitarian ethos of The Open University by exploring the potential for organisational innovations that empower
  • engages with diverse practice communities, be they employers committed to empowering futures, social movements seeking to shift social and political paradigms, labour organisations fighting for workers’ rights, civil sector organisations enriching awareness of injustices and new possible futures, or policymakers grappling with how to raise prosperity, productivity and wellbeing
  • pioneers innovative research in the field of organisation studies and in interdisciplinary study

Research update from the Director of REEF


REEF in detail

Themes People Research


Events

The 19th International Studying Leadership Conference

In a world where the climate crisis threatens to destroy our planet, precarious work and lives are ubiquitous, extremist politicians befuddle and bedazzle and technological developments radically challenge the assumptions and ontological status of organisations, leadership and society...now is the time to think big about how leadership can change the world for better or for ill.

Important notice

This event is currently postponed until further notice.

More details of the conference including how to submit a paper or workshop idea will be publicised here in the coming months. In the meantime, for any queries regarding the event, please contact Owain Smolovic-Jones.

Find out more about our past events.


Contact us

To stay informed about REEF and to find out about any upcoming events, please contact us.