Derek Robinson (1932-2014)

K. Mayhew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter describes the contribution of Derek Robinson to academic labour economics and to public policy. His detailed research on local labour markets made an important early contribution to our understanding of the market imperfections which allowed employers significant discretion from external constraints—they were not simply wage takers. Robinson described how unions flourished in such environments, particularly in internal labour markets. Himself a committed trade unionist, he nevertheless believed that reform of industrial relations was needed. This motivated much of his work for the UK government. His central role in devising and implementing the incomes policy of the Heath administration in the early 1970s represented the high point of Robinson’s public service. He believed that incomes policies need not just be short-term measures to dampen inflationary pressures but potentially engines for change in wage-setting institutions and in attitudes to pay differentials.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Companion to Oxford Economics
EditorsRobert A. Cord
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-58471-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-58470-2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021


  • internal labour markets
  • incomes policy
  • trade unions
  • wage structure
  • pay differentials


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