Centre for Work, Organisation and Society

Research students

SBE PhD student Gaby Wolferink

Gaby Wolferink

Recent PhD graduate Gaby Wolferink's work focused on the effect of volunteering on communities

Current Doctoral Students

Mark Langdon
Supervisors: Prof John Arnold and Dr Eva Selenko
Dissertation Topic: 'Assessing the impact of Jobcentre Plus adviser interventions enhanced through behaviour change theory'

Giulia Leghissa
Supervisors: Dr Dan Sage and Dr Dainty (Civil and Building Engineering)
Dissertation Topic: 'Making the zero carbon standard home: Understanding Project-Firl innovation in UK house building'

Chrissi McCarthy
Supervisors: Dr Dainty (Civil and Building Engineering), Thompson and Dr Sarah Barnard
Dissertation Topic: 'The relationship between organisational justice and equality and diversity policies in large main contractor organisations in the UK'

Ghazal Vahidi
Supervisors: Dr Sarah Barnard and Prof John Arnold
Dissertation Topic: 'Representations of career in the printed media over 30 years'

Araz Zirar
Supervisors: Dr Clive Trusson and Dr Alok Choudhary
Dissertation Topic: 'Analysing the possibility of applying Lean administration in Iraqi Kurdistan'

Recent Graduates

Abrar Alenzi 
Dissertation Topic: 'The influence of personal connections on human resource management, knowledge sharing and innovation in Kuwait: The mediating role affective commitment'

Gottfried Catania 
Dissertation Topic: 'The effects of goal-setting on (un)ethical behaviour in the Maltese financial services industry'

Hannah Evans
Dissertation Topic: 'The role of personality in shaping work-life boundary management and mobile technology use among home teleworkers'

Maggi Evans 
Dissertation Topic: 'Organizational talent, individual career, exploring the nature and role of formal and informal career conversations in the workplace'

Jamie Ferrell

Karen Maher
Dissertation Topic: 'Analysing the links between operational effectiveness for the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) and firefighters’ fitness and wellbeing'

Sandeep Mysore 
Title of Dissertation: 'Innovations in outsourcing: The emergence of impact sourcing'

Sarah Todd
Dissertation Topic: 'Service manager role identities, perception of power and the impact on improvements through patient and public involvement'

Sara Turner
Dissertation Topic: 'A post-structuralist analysis of creativity, power and trust in the inter-organisational collaborations between entrepreneurial SMEs and large bureaucratic organisations in the video game industry'

Gabrielle Wolferink
Dissertation Topic: 'This is not working: An ethnographic exploration of the symbolically violent nature of everyday unemployment and job searching practices'

CWOS brings together academics from a number of different disciplines to conduct research and contribute to practice across diverse issues in the management of people and the social and psychological relations of work and organisations. Members of the centre carry out distinctive work across many contemporary topics of importance to work, employment, organisations and society. These include: organisational psychology; working identities and workplace equalities; career management; work-related health and wellbeing; the sociology of work, technology and organisations; and issues in international HRM, labour and employment.

Applications are invited from prospective PhD students interested in working with well-established researchers in the School of Business and Economics. Colleagues are available to supervise PhD research in a wide range of topics. 

Currently suggested topics, with provisional titles, include:

1. Graduate Identity and Employability

This project, set broadly in the field of the psychology of work and careers, investigates the relationship between identity and employability.  Building upon the notion that work represents part of who we are; this project will focus on whether knowing better who one is professionally will help navigate transitions in one’s career better and enhance employability. Work has been exposed to significant change in recent years, in terms of professional formation and career entry, structures of employment, and employee-organisational relationships. Yet, the formation of professional identity and related employability remain surprisingly under-researched. Candidates will be working in the context of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Society, with researchers developing the topic areas of employability and identity.

2. Understanding the Student Psychological Contract in Business and Management

There are increasing concerns that the contemporary, millennial student population have a different set of experiences and expectations to their predecessors which do not match what is currently available. Hence this research may inform future curriculum design, initiatives to enhance student engagement, how we communicate with our students and our understanding of student culture and motivation. This research may be suitable for an experienced academic, qualified to master's level, who is already working in a higher education context who wishes to study part-time. It may also be suitable for someone teaching in higher education business and management who wishes to transition into an educational development role, or who wishes to develop a body of research based on pedagogic practice. 

3. Employability and CPD: Sustaining Professional Careers

Applications are invited from prospective PhD students interested in working with researchers in the Centre for Work, Organisation and Society. Students will also have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the soon-to-be-established Responsible Management Research Interest Group (RM-RIG). As the 21st century progresses, professional work in advanced economies has become more difficult to sustain. Routine and non-routine tasks are potentially within the scope of robotic process automation, transactional and more cerebral work can be commodified in the global knowledge-based economy, while the increasing pace of change challenges professionals’ ability to keep up to date. In turn, this creates concerns about sustainability of professional knowledge and the ‘talent pipeline’ of individuals entering professions and developing careers. This research therefore aims to consider new theoretical and practical perspectives on continuing professional development (CPD) and employability, with the practical aim of supporting the sustainability of professional knowledge and professional careers. Methodologically, there is scope for longitudinal study, research in an international context, and sequential mixed-methods investigations. It is suitable for any area of professional work where CPD is a requirement hence may be multidisciplinary to include (for example) business and management, engineering, law, or professions related to medicine.  

4. The Experience of Graduates on the Autism Spectrum Navigating the Labour Market after University

Increased support put in place in recent years across the University sector is likely to have contributed to many young people with autism spectrum conditions graduating with good degrees from good universities.  As such, as they engage with the labour market, they are likely to encounter tensions between the advantages in the labour market associated with being privileged graduates and the disadvantages known to exist in the labour market for people on the autism spectrum. The project offers the potential to conduct a longitudinal study of the experiences of undergraduates and graduates as they engage with the labour market over a period of time.  The study will particularly suit somebody with an educational background in sociology, psychology and/or human resource management. This proposed PhD research project will address the question: “How do undergraduates on the autism spectrum experience their transition from university into the labour market?”.

5. Work, Organisations, and Social Responsibility: 21st Century Challenges

Many questions arise in contemporary work and organisational research in regard to accelerated technological change and corporate risks. Questions concerning new forms of exploitation, exclusion and labour market inequalities join other sets of questions concerning environmental sustainability and social responsibility. These questions all raise important challenges in regard to the substantive responsibilities and accountability of business organisations to the societies (and planet) on which they depend. Efforts to respond to these concerns – especially in view of the failure of CSR (corporate social responsibility) as conventionally understood, to mitigate them – include exploration of institutional resources in democratic societies. These resources, such as substantive forms of employee participation and voice can help to regulate and beneficially constrain organisational action.

This proposed PhD research project will inquire into the uses – real or potential – of organisational democratic resources to help regulate, that is, set rules, constrain and direct, organisational activity. It aims to enquire into a general question: How can organisations improve recognition of and take substantive action toward social and environmental responsibilities? Or, put very grandly, can the social life of organisations regulate organisational economy, improve work practices and societal relations and help save the planet?

Go to the online application form
See full details on our PhD programme

Visit the School's PhD topics page for specific supervised unfunded topics.