Organisational legacy and employee relations in UK shipbuilding

Bonathan, Nicola Fleming (2024) Organisational legacy and employee relations in UK shipbuilding. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2024bonathonphd.pdf] PDF
Download (1MB)


Shipbuilding on the River Clyde in Glasgow has long been a source of fascination for historians and social scientists alike, due to its connections to the industrial heritage of the city and the associations with the wider industrial legacy across the UK. In the 1970s, shipbuilding became synonymous with industrial action, with the events of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in gaining notoriety around the world as a display of successful workforce militancy, solidarity and defiance. This study offered the opportunity to gain an insight into this unique context from an organisational studies perspective, some fifty years on from the events of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ action. This study was undertaken to explore the impact of organisational memory on contemporary employee relations, to help understand the extent to which events of the past impact on the organisational present. This study also sought to investigate empirically the multiple factors at play within the contemporary employee relations environment. Theoretically, this study contributes to the conversation across a number of areas; firstly, it provides a contribution to the conceptualisation of organisational legacy. It also provides a contribution to the study of organisational memory, especially memory as a social construct. The recent literature on “organisational ghosts” suggests a need for more studies which investigate the concept to help understand the tangible role that the past can play in the organisational present; this study adds an additional perspective to this research. Through the theoretical lens of labour process theory, organisational legacy, memory and “organisational ghosts”, this research also examines the impacts of individualism and workforce differentiation and unpacks the complexities of employment in shipbuilding today. This research was conducted as a single case study, with a focus on qualitative data. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, and a researcher reflective diary. The data was thematically analysed, and theoretical contributions subsequently derived from the emergent themes. The findings contribute to the organisational legacy literature, detailing several significant components which impact on organisational legacy and memory: history, identity, storytelling and organizational spaces. The findings also contribute to the growing body of literature on organisational ghosts; exploring aspects of temporality and spatiality to help explain the ways in which the past, present and future interact in organisations. This study adds an additional perspective to the discussion on contemporary employment relations, outlining the changing role of trade unions, and the challenges presented by workforce division and differentiation. Finally, this thesis presents some implications for labour process theory, articulating the need for a more open debate about the future of work and sustainability of current work structures.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Keston-Siebert, Professor Sabina and Cumbers, Professor Andrew
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84315
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 08:44
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 08:49
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84315

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year