It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Professor David Marsden, who died unexpectedly on Tuesday 10 August 2021 following complications of cancer treatment. Our deepest sympathies are with David’s wife, Professor Alice Lam, and his son, Antony Lam-Marsden.
David joined LSE as a Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Relations in 1980. He had a long and distinguished career at LSE, first in the Department of Industrial Relations where he was promoted to Professor, and subsequently in the Department of Management. As his wife Alice has said, David ‘was ultimately an LSE man and totally dedicated to his work.’ This commitment shone through in his scholarship, his teaching and generous collegiality. As David’s close colleague Jonathan Booth put it, ‘David was not only a colleague, he was a friend, mentor, and champion for junior faculty and supportive to many others – from students at all levels to professional services staff.’
David was an original and creative scholar. A talented linguist, David excelled at cross-national comparison and thought deeply about the origins and durability of institutional diversity. In his influential book, A Theory of Employment Systems: Micro-Foundations of Societal Diversity (1999, Oxford University Press), David developed a novel theory of how institutions shaped work organisation and employment relations within firms. He had wide interests in employment relations, publishing important studies on youth employment and training, performance related pay, performance management and individual employee voice. David also made significant policy contributions, authoring numerous reports and acting as an adviser to the European Commission, the International Labour Organisation, the OECD, the World Bank, and to various UK trade unions. Throughout his work, David was concerned to improve conditions for ordinary people, in the workplace and society.
Not only did David publish in all the major industrial relations journals, he also founded two journals. David was a founding editor of Industrielle Beziehungen (the German Journal of Industrial Relations), and, together with Alex Hicks, he also founded Socio-Economic Review (SER), acting as editor from 2001-2006. Establishing journals is a rare accomplishment; these thriving journals stand as a lasting tribute to David’s intellectual enthusiasm and creativity. In addition, David served as an editor of Travail et Emploi (a research journal published by the French ministry of labour), was co-editor of the International Public Management Journal between 2005 and 2011, and served as general editor of the British Journal of Industrial Relations from 2012 until his death. His support for interdisciplinary work was expressed by his long-standing relationship with the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), serving as SASE President in 2002-2003 and acting as organiser for the network on “Labour Markets, Education, and Human Resources” over several decades, where he welcomed generations of young international scholars into SASE.
David was a dedicated teacher, who enjoyed taking students on an intellectual journey. For many years he taught Comparative Employment Relations and later Comparative Human Resource Management, sharing his sophisticated understanding of cross-national diversity with students. Most recently, David taught Negotiation Analysis, a labour of love which was deeply appreciated by students. He was rightly proud of his successful leadership of this course, for which he received an LSE ‘Excellence in Education Award’ in 2018.
David was also an active citizen of the Department and LSE. Among his many roles, he served as a Member of Council 2008-2013 and Vice-Chair of the Academic Board 2010-2013. He was also Head of the Department of Industrial Relations 2001-2004, and Faculty Group Lead of ER-HR from 2015.
David was hugely appreciated by colleagues not only as a scholar, but for his kindness, warmth and generosity. He was unfailingly considerate and thoughtful, fostering a culture of mutual respect and support. He nurtured and encouraged many young scholars. It was a privilege to work with David; he will be greatly missed.
In David we have lost an inspiring scholar, colleague and friend, who will be long remembered at LSE and across the scholarly community.