People, Organisations and Work

People, Organisations and Work (POW) brings together academics who undertake critical interdisciplinary research that contributes to the promotion of positive and sustainable organisational environments and fulfilling and rewarding work. 

While POW initially emerged from the HR and Leadership group in Plymouth Business School, it extends to colleagues working in a range of disciplines. We are therefore keen to attract members, and form collaborations with interested academics, from different disciplines as well as those based in other institutions. 

People, Organisations and Work research group lead – Professor Richard Saundry

POW is led by Richard Saundry, Professor of Human Resources Management and Employment Relations at Plymouth. Richard's main research interests revolve around the management of workplace conflict and he has conducted a number of research projects in this area funded by Acas and the Government. He was recently the principal organiser of an ESRC Seminar Series – Reframing Resolution – Managing Conflict and Resolving Individual Employment Disputes in the Contemporary Workplace. He has also conducted research into trade union revitalisation and union learning receiving funding from the ESRC, TUC and UNISON.

Good Work Is… academics take the workplace into the classroom

The growth in the use of zero-hours contracts, the rise of the ‘gig economy’ and the rapid develop of automation has raised questions over the future of work at the centre of the policy agenda. The government’s recent review into ‘Modern Employment’ chaired by Matthew Taylor made a series of recommendations designed to underpin ‘good work’ in the face of these challenges. But what does the next generation of workers want to get out of work and employment when they enter the labour market? This is one of the questions that researchers from the People Organisations and Work (POW) research group (part of iSPER) will be seeking to answer when they visit schools across the South West to discuss the hopes and fears of students.

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Resolving conflict in the NHS – Plymouth researchers working with NHS employers

Plymouth academics Professors Richard Saundry and Duncan Lewis addressed senior NHS managers on the need to combat bullying harassment and develop more strategic approaches to managing workplace conflict, in an event in Birmingham. The workshop, ‘Fight, flight or resolution? Managing conflict in the NHS’, organised jointly by NHS Employers and Plymouth’s Institute for Social, Policy and Enterprise Research (iSPER), attracted over 80 delegates from around the UK.

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Professor Duncan Lewis

Professor Duncan Lewis

Plymouth Professor addresses Scandinavian audience about bullying and harassment at work

Plymouth’s Professor Duncan Lewis was recently invited to speak at an event in Copenhagen, Denmark run by NIVA and the Universities of Copenhagen and Aalborg. NIVA is a specialist education provider of occupational health funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. 

Duncan spoke to a range of researchers from Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and Luxembourg on the challenges of researching and understanding bullying and harassment in relation to discrimination at work. He said: 

"This was a terrific opportunity to engage with researchers who have a common interest in occupational health across a range of European countries. I was delighted to be invited to speak by colleagues from the University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University."

Featured news - Fathers face negative bias over quest for work-life balance study suggests

Fathers face ‘forfeits’ when applying for part-time employment and in the workplace, with questions over their commitment and suspicion regarding their quest for a work-life balance, a new study suggests. The research, which was led by Jasmine Kelland, Lecturer in Human Resource Management and a member of iSPER's POW research group, found that whereas mothers face 'penalties' in the workplace and fathers reap 'benefits' in relation to full-time employment, the reverse also exists when it comes to part-time work. 

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POW projects

POW members are, or have, delivered a number of research projects in such areas as  conflict management, workplace bullying and the roles and characteristics of leaders. These include studies undertaken in the UK, some of which are funded by ACAS, as well as work undertaken internationally. 

More details on POW projects

Featured project - HR structures and the management of workplace conflict

University of Plymouth research team: Professor Richard Saundry and Drs Virginia Fisher and Sue Kinsey

This project has been commissioned by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to explore the impact of different structures of HRM on the ways in which conflict is managed and resolved. In particular it seeks to identify whether certain approaches to HRM either facilitate or hinder early and informal approaches of conflict resolution. The results of the project will inform the development of Acas guidance and advice over these matters as well as providing key insights to participating organisations and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD).

POW is working to develop research in the following key areas:

  • equity, inclusivity and fairness
  • leadership, ethics and sustainability
  • resolution, representation and voice
  • critical practice and people management.

Through its inter-disciplinary approach POW will seek to:

  • Generate high quality, critical and applied research in the fields of HRM, leadership, employment relations, employment law, organisational theory and work psychology.
  • Disseminate its work to a wide audience through the publication of research findings, workshops and seminars and through this seek to influence policy and practice.
  • Co-ordinate the development and submission of bids for external funding.
  • Build and develop links with practitioners and policy makers.
  • Provide a supportive and inclusive environment for the development of research careers.