Frontier of control struggles in British and Irish public transport

Emma Hughes*, Tony Dobbins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Few contemporary studies of change in industrial relations use Carter Goodrich’s classic concept of the ‘frontier of control’ (FoC), especially in cross-national comparative research. Our study maps FoC struggles in two public transport organizations in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Qualitative methods generate significant insights into complex day-to-day workplace control patterns in these two cases. Despite changes in the frontier of control in both organizations over time, it is observed that employment relations in the Irish case are more cooperative than in the British. The frontier of control still matters, because workplace control regimes shape managerial ability to secure worker consent and are always potentially contestable terrains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-344
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors express gratitude to Richard Hyman and the anonymous reviewers who provided helpful feedback. They also thank all the people who kindly participated in the research case studies. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Autonomy
  • conflict
  • frontier of control
  • Ireland
  • public transport
  • UK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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