The role of line managers in negotiating order and attendance on the food retail shop floor : a comparison between the UK and Cyprus food retail sector

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the role of line managers in managing attendance at work, within grocery retailing, providing a comparison between the UK and Cyprus. It explores the sector's political economy, discusses the impact on workplace attendance, explores the manifestations of attendance in the labour process, and examines the role of line managers in managing absence. The empirical evidence draws on qualitative research from four case-study grocery retail organizations in the UK and Cyprus and reports on 91 semi-structured interviews with HR managers, store managers, line managers, union representatives and shop-floor employees. The research evidence highlighted a drop in absence in all the case study organizations. In both countries, the economic crisis, the absence management process and the role of the line managers were major drivers for the employees' decision to attend work regularly, consenting to the attendance control and the shop floor regimes. The labour process analysis adopted in this study suggests that non-attendance as a form of industrial conflict is regarded as muted, while consent to regular attendance is built. Nevertheless, the data illustrated a latent behaviour by workers, across the four organizations, utilizing silent and individual actions to battle over workplace attendance. The research also highlights the role of line managers in managing attendance at work, as well as in negotiating the shop floor order. The thesis discusses the versatile role of the line managers in managing both attendance and the shop floor order, across the four case study organizations. The study also illustrates that the line managers were subjected to forces of control, holding limited authority and discretion. However, they developed tactics to cope and gain control within these processes. The main contributions of this research are the similar organization of food retail work within the UK and Cyprus, the employees' consent to regular attendance, and the 'Rebels of the clock' thesis, which suggests the emergence of 'game playing', as an expression of industrial conflict. Finally, the versatile role of line managers in coercing and negotiating both workplace attendance and shop floor order is suggested, while these actors used informal actions to gain discretion and overcome the top-down control on their role within the attendance management process.
Date of Award6 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde

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