On leaving school Roger served an apprenticeship, as a maintenance fitter (see Times Higher Education, Jan 1st 1999), at Boots the Chemists in Nottingham. He left Boots in 1967 after winning a TUC (Trades Union Congress) Scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford. After two years at Ruskin, reading for the University`s Special Diploma in Social Studies, he won a 'State Scholarship for Mature Students' and moved to Wadham College, Oxford to read History and Economics.
On leaving Wadham, in 1972, he joined the Oxford Centre for Management Studies (OCMS) subsequently Templeton College, as a Research Associate. He initially worked for the late Lord (Bill) McCarthy, on a study of British trade unions. This research was funded by the Department of Employment and resulted in 'Change in Trade Unions' (Undy, et al Hutchinson 1981).
During his 40 years plus employment at OCMS and Templeton College (the forerunners of the Said Business School and Green Templeton College) Roger held all the main College posts, including Acting President, Vice President, Senior Tutor and Dean. When holding the positions of both Acting President and Dean (1991 and 1992), he represented Templeton College in negotiations with the University (VC and Chair of General Board) over the proposed new Business School. However, the tentative agreements reached in these talks regarding the College`s relationship with the new Business School were later ditched by the University (see Graves D, 2001 'Templeton the First Thirty Years' pages 126-128,).
As for research Institutions, in 1985 Roger founded and then became Director of the Oxford Institute for Employee Relations (OXIFER). By 1996 OXIFER had a membership of seven academics and an extensive research agenda including, inter alia, studies of: Performance Related Pay; Employment Relations in the Public Sector; the Impact of Labour Legislation on Trade Unions; and the work of ACAS. Roger was given the title of University Reader in 1996, after being made a University Lecturer in Industrial Relations in1994.
Between 1988 and 2016 Roger`s own research primarily focussed on: the Structure and Governance of Trade Unions; Labour Law as applied to Trade Unions; and the interface between Government and Trade Unions. The studies of trade union structure proved to be of significant value to SBS in 2015 when the School successfully included in its REF submission of 'Impact Cases' an article titled 'Changing the merger strategies of Trade Unions', Roger Undy, 2015, which drew extensively on Undy R (2008) 'Trade Union Merger Strategies' OUP.
At present (September 2016), with the assistance of research expenses provided by SBS, Roger is working on an article titled 'The Making of UNITE the union'. This will analyse an amalgamation which in 2007 created Britain`s largest Private Sector union, and subsequently led to UNITE the union playing a central role in the campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour Party.
A list of Roger`s publications, including 50 plus articles and five books, can be found on our Eureka website.
Throughout his 40 years in Oxford Roger has voluntarily supported, first, the Oxford University Branch of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and more recently, after a merger, the Oxford Branch of the University and College Union (UCU). For those unfamiliar with the formal system of Industrial Relations at the University of Oxford, the UCU is presently the union recognised for representing Oxford`s Academics and Academic Related Staff in both individual cases and at the University`s Joint Consultation Committee (JCC).
Roger was President of the Oxford UCU between 2009 and 2012 and has been (and still is) a UCU Case Workers. Also, in 2014 and 2015 he was one of the Oxford UCU`s members who met the Head of University HR to discuss proposed changes in Statute XII which, for the uninitiated, helps protect Academics` and Academic Related Staffs` terms and conditions of employment.
During his long spell at OCMS, Templeton College and the Said Business School Roger generally taught Industrial Relations to:
Executives and Senior Managers; Post-graduates; and Undergraduates.
Teaching Industrial Relations to Executives and Senior Managers usually involved developing and delivering tailor-made sessions of interest to participants on a wide range of Commissioned, Customised or Open Courses. Also specific courses were designed to meet the needs of specialists in Industrial Relations, including members of Templeton College`s Personnel Directors Forum (PDF) which for many years included, inter alia, the Personnel Directors of: the University of Oxford; Thames Water; Austin Rover; British Gas.
Parallel with the above teaching programmes research, funded by the Manpower Services Commission, was conducted into how organizations developed and trained their line managers in Employee Relations (covering: employee relations; communication and consultation; equality of opportunity, trade union representation; and disciplinary matters).This research, conducted over some five years, led to the publishing of 'Employee Relations Audits' ( Jennings, C, McCarthy WEJ, and Undy R, 1990, Routledge) . This book is currently [September 2016] being prepared for re-issuing by Routledge).
Post graduates interested in Industrial Relations could in the 1970s study the subject by reading for an MPhil or a DPhil in Management Studies. But in the febrile Industrial Relations context of the period when strikes, cost-push inflation and union behaviour dominated much of political and economic debate Oxford`s Social Studies Board agreed in 1983 to launch an MSc titled 'The Management of Industrial Relations'.
This new degree, which Roger directed for several years from within Templeton College, also brought together in the planning and teaching of the new MSc a number of experts (Industrial Relations Specialists, Labour Lawyers, Labour Economists and Industrial Sociologists) who had previously had little personal contact. However, the degree itself was relatively short-lived. As the number of days lost through strikes fell dramatically in the late 1980s, general interest in Industrial Relations declined. At the same time, across a number of Business Schools, interest grew in the competing field of Human Resource Management (HRM). In response the Oxford MSc was restructured and retitled an “MSc in “Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management”. Nevertheless, the number of students remained relatively small and the new degree was closed by SBS in 2006.
Undergraduates reading for PPE could also to take options dealing with Industrial Relations and Labour economics.
Outside of the above conventional areas of management teaching, Templeton College in late 1995 was offered the opportunity by Jonathan Powell`s Office (otherwise known as The Office of the Leader of the Opposition --- Tony Blair) to co-operate with Andersen Consulting in organizing and delivering a tailor made programme for New Labour`s Shadow Cabinet with the title 'Preparing for the Management of Change in Government'.
Roger, who was known to be sympathetic to the Labour Party and who, as an undergraduate, had been elected Chair of the University`s Labour Club, and later, in1974, stood for Labour in the General Election, was asked to co-direct this Programme (his joint director was Keith Ruddle of Andersen Consulting, and later a Fellow of Templeton College).
Hence, Roger and Keith joined discussions to design and conduct a pilot programme which was then held at Templeton College in October 1995. This was followed by a de-briefing in November 1995 which confirmed New Labour`s leadership`s commitment to the programme. This was followed by Tony Blair, in December 1995, approving another series of courses and in him offering all his Shadow Cabinet, and their teams, the opportunity to attend the 'Preparing for the Management of Change in Government' course. Each Shadow Cabinet team was then asked to be prepared, on attending the course, to tackle a project that would be applied if and when New Labour was in Government..
The 'project' based approach also helped spawn a series of 'Implementation Groups' which led to Roger joining the 'Groups' planning the 'Low Pay Commission' and the associated 'National Minimum Wage'. He was also, between December 1996 and March 1998 further involved with a group of academics, and by 1998 academics and Government Ministers, in preparing proposals for the introduction of Labour Legislation, including dealing with the controversial issue of Trade Union Recognition.
Saïd Business School
Executive Education Centre
University of Oxford