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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

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Leadership...Rebooting | The 19th International Studying Leadership Conference

As the world recovers from a pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us, it is worth taking some time to reflect on whether leadership studies is as relevant as it could be to the problems of our world.

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