Professor Vera Trappmann

Professor Vera Trappmann


I joined Leeds University in 2015 as an Associate Professor in Work and Employment Relations. Prior to this I was a Junior Professor of European Studies at Magdeburg University in Germany.
I obtained my PhD at the European University Viadrina in 2009 after completing a Diplom in sociology at Bielefeld University and a Master degree in Russian and East European Studies at Stanford University. I held postdoctoral appointments at FSU Jena (2009), Osnabrueck University (2011), and Duisburg-Essen University (2014). I was invited as an international visitor to Warsaw Academy of Sciences (2011), Toulouse Business School (2011), Jagiellonen University Cracow (2006).


  • Director of Sustainability for LUBS
  • Member of the Executive Board of Priestley International Centre for Climate

Research interests

My research engages with the comparison of labour relations across Europe. My main research interests focus on the dynamics of organisational restructuring and its impact on working biographies,and organized labour. Precarious work plays a prominent role here. Further I am interested in trade unions and their role around environmental sustainability, climate change and degrowth. My work is often comparative in nature and has been funded by the UKRI Research Council; European Commission, the German Research Foundation, Hans-Boeckler Foundation, Otto-Brenner Foundation, Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, Polish-German Science Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service, German Ministry of Research and Education, Federal states and trade unions.

A dominant strand in the past has been the research of socio-economic changes in Central and Eastern Europe. I co-led a prestigious DFG funded project on business elites and the varieties of capitalism in Central Eastern Europe. The study involved partners in three European countries, during 2008-2013. Research from the project was published in a book published by Routledge under the title Business Leaders and New Varieties of Capitalism in Post-Communist Europe edited by myself, Katharina Bluhm, and Bernd Martens.

Other major studies in this area included the portray of the steel industry in Poland (funded by the German Ministry of Science and Education), published with Palgrave under the title Fallen Heroes in Global Capitalism. Workers and the Restructuring of the Polish Steel Industry. Recent policy reports include studies on trade unions in Poland for the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation.

I have published one monograph, 2 edited volumes, over 35 journal articles and book chapters, over 16 reports, and presented papers at conferences and workshops in over 15 countries.
I am currently on the international advisory board of Work, Employment and Society and an editorial board member of Warsaw Forum of Economic Sociology, and Topic Editor for Sustainability.

My current research interests cover two different areas. First, I study precarious working conditions among young workers and how they experience and contest precarity. This includes work on platforms. Second, I want to understand the role of labour within climate change and the impact of climate change and the need for zero carbon emissions on work. I have set up an interdisciplinary network of Leeds University scholars at the interplay of work, employment, economics and environment adressing these questions.

Research Projects

With colleagues from CERIC we are developping the Leeds Index of Platform Labour Protest More info here: Follow us on Twitter: Just Transition in the UK Just in transition - a Global Exploration, is a project funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation that studies just trasntiion policies and debates in 12 countries.


Previous projects

I was principal investigator of the project PREWORK "Young precarious workers in Poland and Germany: a comparative sociological study on working and living conditions, social consciousness and civic engagement", funded with 800.00 EUR by the German Science Foundation and the Polish Science Centre

As a fellow-up, we developped REPOP, a project that  investigates the relation between precarity and right-wing populism in Poland and Germany, funded with 69.000 EUR by the German Polish Science Foundation, 7/2019-07/2021.

I have been working on a Research England Strategic Priorities Fund to study “The worker voice in Just Transitions to a low-carbon economy: building evidenced based policy making in Yorkshire and the Humber.”

External roles

I am a Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Transforming the Foundation Industries Network and Member of Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission Research & Evidence Panel.


  • PhD, European-University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)
  • MA, Stanford University
  • MA, Bielefeld University

Student education

I have previously been Deputy Director of the MA Programme Human Resource Management. I have taught at numerous universities in several countries and I like to think of teaching as a way of challenging the way we think "things have to be". Currently I teach on different modules:

MA HRM/ MscConsulting: Sustainable Futures
MA HRM: Global Perspectives on HRM and Employment Relations
MA HRM: Human Resource Management
MA HRM: International Employment Policy and Labour Mobility
BA HRM: Global Perspectives on HRM and Employment Relations
BA HRM: Business and Society (Social Theory)
BA HRM: Business and Society (Combined)

Research Supervision
I am experienced in doctoral supervision. I am currently supervising 4 PhD students. I am interested in supervising projects related to:

  • Globalisation, restructuring and employment relations outcomes
  • Comparative studies of workplace restructuring and its impact on workers lives
  • Comparative studies of labour relations
  • Precarisation of work and life
  • Trade unions strategy for renewal, in particular for greening the economy
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainability and climate change
  • Young workers
  • Platform work

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change

Current postgraduate researchers