A new living contract? Cases in the implementation of the living wage by British SME retailers

Werner, Andrea and Lim, Ming (2017) A new living contract? Cases in the implementation of the living wage by British SME retailers. Employee Relations, 39 (6). pp. 850-862. ISSN 0142-5455

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Purpose of this paper: This paper aims to provide evidence for the motivations of SMEs for introducing the Living Wage, focusing on retail as one specific sector. It develops understanding of the strategic benefits and challenges these employers face in balancing financial, ethical and social considerations in small businesses.

Design/methodology/approach: The study employed mixed methods: a survey and semi-structured interviews. The interviews are presented as part of three case studies.

Findings: Findings indicate that employers were, for the most part, motivated by personal ethics and beliefs about fair wages and social justice. They suggest that SME accrue benefits from Living Wage accreditation such as reputational benefits and higher employee morale, but that there are also potential pitfalls of Living Wage adoption related to pay structure and incentives. The sustainability of the Living Wage emerged as an issue in terms of the long-term strategy and brand positioning of the companies involved.

Research limitations/implications: The nature of the research was exploratory and thus the study only allows for limited generalisation. Recommended avenues for further research include gathering data from different levels of organisations and from different stakeholders.

What is original/value of paper: This is the first paper to investigate the drivers for, and implementation of, the Living Wage in SMEs. The specific characteristics of SMEs – their ethos, low visibility, reliance on trusting relationships and limited resources, among others – make the study of why and how they choose to implement the LW very interesting. This study is the first to gather and analyse data from SME retailers and wholesalers that have implemented the Living Wage.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > International Management and Innovation > Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics group
Item ID: 22199
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Andrea Werner
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2017 14:26
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2018 10:50
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/22199

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