POW Projects

Below is a selection of some of the projects currently being undertaken, or recently completed, by members of the POW research group. The projects highlight some of the key research interests of the group including conflict management, workplace bullying and the roles and characteristics of leaders. 

The Role of Embodied Practices in the Realisation of Agency in Social Movement Organising

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Professor Donna Ladkin 

This study introduces a cartographic approach to tracking embodied relations which impact on the creation of radical agency within social movement organising. In response to the need for greater attention to the micro-political processes through which agency is realised, this study highlights the heretofore ignored role of bodies and embodied interactions in realising social change. Using the social movement Black Lives Matter as a case study, the study seeks to create both theoretical insight and a new analytic method for attending to the often fleeting dynamics core to social change activism.

Irish Workplace Behaviour Survey

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Professor Duncan Lewis

This study aims to establish the prevalence of negative acts in the workplace in a nationally representative sample of Irish employees, replicating the British Workplace Behaviour Survey (BWBS) conducted in 2008 where Professor Lewis was a co-investigator. In addition to the survey, three case studies of large employers will also be developed and four practitioner workshops will be held. Aside from Professor Lewis, the research team also involves academics from NUI Galway and the University of Limerick. The study is funded by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Find out more information about the project

Organisational Silence: A 10 Nations Comparison Study on Employee Silence and Potential Antecedents and Consequences

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Dr Lucas Monzani

In a cross-cultural study, the research team examined employees’ tendency to remain silent along with selected potential antecedents and consequences (eg health). With respect to the antecedents, they were particularly interested in the relationship between differentially motivated silence (i.e., silence based on fear, resignation, prosocial and opportunistic motives) and the cultural dimensions defined in the Globe study (House et al, 1999).

The available scales and findings regarding the relevance of specific cultural dimensions will be of use for internationally engaged companies who want to know about the prevalence of the silence motives either in their diverse workforce or in the countries they do business in. The research team validated measures for differentially motivated types of employee silence in ten samples. This is the first study to examine which distal and proximal cultural dimensions relate to which forms of silence.

Managing Conflict in the Contemporary British Workplace

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Professor Richard Saundry

Professor Saundry led a consortia of academics from the Universities of Warwick, Leeds and Central Lancashire on a project funded by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). Based on focus groups and interviews involving over 150 managers, HR practitioners, union representatives and employment lawyers, the research argues that tensions over the management of performance have become the main focus of workplace conflict. In addition, while conflict can have damaging effects on employee well-being and productivity, the research questioned whether front-line managers have the skills and confidence to resolve difficult HR issues effectively and at an early stage. The research pointed to the need to adopt more strategic and systematic approaches to the management of workplace conflict.

Download a copy of the final research report.

The Role of Leadership Networks in Keeping High Risk Organisations Safe

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Professor Donna Ladkin

This study examines the ‘in between’ leadership practices which are vital in keeping high risk organisations safe. Based on research at the Easington and Zeebrugge based Gas Receiving Terminals of a Norwegian gas distribution company, the study uses social network analysis to explore the interplay of formal and informal leadership practices and the organizational structures that support them in promoting organisation-wide safe operations. Initial findings indicate the key role played by leadership which is distributed throughout the organisation.

Workplace Bullying and Mistreatment Partnership for Prevention

Plymouth University Research Team: Professor Duncan Lewis and Dr Lucas Monzani

This research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC - 2015-2018), examines workplace bullying and mistreatment using international and integrative perspectives for prevention. The team brings together interdisciplinary researchers across Canada, the UK, Germany and Denmark, as well as Canadian decision-makers and policy analysts, to generate large datasets. 

Find out more information about the project.

Identity leadership Going Global: Results from an International Validation Study of the Identity Leadership Inventory

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Dr Lucas Monzani

The social identity approach to leadership has had increasing impact in recent years. Many studies have highlighted the effectiveness of prototypical leaders — for example, they are typically trusted more, secure more follower support and have greater leeway to make decisions. More recently, To identity prototypicality (or 'being one of us'), three further dimensions of identity leadership have been identified (Haslam, Reicher & Platow, 2011): identity advancement ('doing it for us'), identity entrepreneurship ('crafting a sense of us') and identity impressarioship (“making us matter“). All four dimensions have recently been operationalised with the Identity Leadership Inventory (ILI; Steffens et al, 2014). 

This ongoing international project applies and validates the ILI scales by gathering data from all six continents and more than 20 countries with over 3800 participants. The ILI has been translated (using back-translation methods) and used in online surveys along with other measures of leadership (LMX, transformational and authentic leadership) and employee attitudes and (self-reported) behaviors (eg satisfaction, identification, citizenship behaviors) in 15 different languages. 

Preliminary findings of ILI-Global confirm the validity of the ILI across cultures. The four dimensions of the ILI are distinguishable and that they contribute to the prediction of work-related attitudes and behaviors above and beyond other influential leadership constructs. 

Leader Character and Well-being: Virtuous Leadership as a Route to Employee (and Leader) Eudaemonic Well-being

Plymouth University Principal Investigator: Dr Lucas Monzani

Character, competence, and commitment are the pillars that support virtuous leadership. Although much is known about the nature of competence and commitment, and how they relate to positive outcomes for leaders, followers, and their organizations, less is known about the nature and consequences of leaders’ character and virtues. Thus, exploring leader character opens new research directions for those interested in a leadership that goes 'beyond expectations'. Building on the foundational work of Peterson and Seligman, theory on leader character has steadily accumulated to the point that several integrative frameworks now exist. Hence, the time is right to explore how leader character relates to positive outcomes such as subjective well-being. To do so, we combined confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) with a ground-breaking analytical technique based on network theory. 

Preliminary findings of 197 leader-follower dyads (a) provide further evidence of the construct validity Leader character model proposed by Seijts, Crossan, Reno and Gandz (2015), and (b) present initial evidence on how leader character relates to positive outcomes, such as eudaemonic well-being.

HR Structures and the Management of Workplace Conflict

Plymouth University 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).