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ESRC PHD ‘COLLABORATIVE’ STUDENTSHIP - Living wage Wales: Exploring the drivers to and barriers against the growth of the living wage standard in Wales (in collaboration with Citizens Cymru Wales)

Cardiff Business School

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About the Project

In 2019, the Welsh Government published findings of an independent commission (Fair Work Commission, 2019), which highlighted a key role for paying the Living Wage (LW) in creating fair work. This report is published against a background of broader public policy support for the LW within Wales (Welsh Government 2018). This studentship will collaborate with Citizens Cymru to examine ways in which the LW can be promoted further and will focus on 3 key research questions:

Research Questions
1. What factors contribute to the patterns of accreditation in Wales?
2. What approaches are used in other regions that can be learnt from to further promote the LW in Wales?
3. How can the tools and approaches used by civil society organisations be harnessed to promote voluntary regulation?

Regulation of the employment relationship has increasingly become private, voluntary and ‘soft’ in its nature. There is much research exploring the effectiveness of voluntary regulation (Bendell 2005; Newell 2000; Utting 2002), but far less understood, about the motivation of employers to choose to sign up to such voluntary standards. In the case of the LW, despite there being much public support within Wales, the levels of accreditation are modest in comparison to other parts of the UK. The reasons for the differences in levels of take up of this voluntary form of regulation are not fully understood. Equally, the role of Civil Society Organisations as key actors in the field of voluntary standards is indisputable (Heery et al. 2012; Hutter & O’Mahony 2004), but whilst the extent of their presence in the employment is increasingly understood, the way they play that role is not.

Anticipated Methods
Stage one will involve an analysis of employment in different regions and also identification of key stakeholders in the promotion of the LW throughout the UK. This may involve interviews with key participants. We envisage that the second stage would involve the PhD student undertaking training and participant observation with Citizens Cymru, and where appropriate other related organisations, to gain a full understanding of the methods used by this civil society organisation. The project will then develop ‘profiles’ of effective practice. It is envisaged these will be drawn from regional, national or, even potentially, international examples of successful initiatives. The aim is to identify an evidence base of ‘what works’ for effective voluntary regulation and how this relates to specific contexts.

Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second class honours degree, or appropriate Master’s degree. Both the University and the ESRC Wales DTP value diversity and equality at all levels and we encourage applications from all sections of the community.

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time Doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant.

Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Business Studies with a start date of October 2020:

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from ESRC PHD ‘COLLABORATIVE’ STUDENTSHIP - Living wage Wales: Exploring the drivers to and barriers against the growth of the living wage standard in Wales (in collaboration with Citizens Cymru Wales).

A completed application form should be submitted no later than 3rd February 2020.

Please include:
1. Covering Letter
2. Academic Qualifications
3. Two References
4. CV
5. Research Proposal (maximum 1000 words), taking into consideration the working title of the project.

Mae’r rhaglen hon ar gael drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg yn unig. I wneud cais am wybodaeth yn Gymraeg, cysylltwch â’r Tîm Recriwtio Ôl-raddedigion ([Email Address Removed]).

This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

Cardiff Business School, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales, invites applications for funded PhD study. The ‘collaborative studentships’, involve liaison with a non-academic organisation, often at many key stages of the research programme. They will commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,009 p.a. for 2019/20 for full-time students); and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant.

Full awards (fees plus stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements.


Bendell, J., 2005. In Whose Name? The AccountAbility of Corporate Social Responsibility. Development in Practice, 15(3/4), pp.362–374. Available at:

Cardiff Business School, 2017. Cardiff Business School: The Public Value Business School .

Fair Work Commission, 2019. Fair Work Wales.

Heery, E., Abbott, B. & Williams, S., 2012. The Involvement of Civil Society Organizations in British Industrial Relations: Extent, Origins and Significance. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 50(1), pp.47–72. Available at:

Hutter, B. & O’Mahony, J., 2004. The Role of Civil Society Organisations in Regulating Business, LSE.

Newell, P., 2000. Managing multinationals: the governance of investment for the environment. Journal of International Development, 13(7), p.907.

Strauss, G. and Whitfield K., 1998. Researching The World Of Work: Strategies And Methods In Studying Industrial Relations. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Press

Utting, P., 2002. Regulating Business Via Multistakeholder Initiatives: A Preliminary Assessment, Geneva.

Welsh Government, 2017. Welsh Government Pay Policy Statement 2018

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