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

University of Plymouth 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

University of Plymouth 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

Autism in the academy

University of Plymouth Principal Investigator: Margaret Prior 

It is now recognised that a proportion of higher education students identify as autistic, Aspergers or similar. However, to date little or no attention has been paid to the fact that some autistic students go on to become autistic academics - and indeed that this has been the case for many years.

This project, which was supported by a small research facilitation grant awarded by the Faculty of Business, aims to set the record straight and give a voice to autistic academics. Drawing on the results of a qualitative survey and 20 interviews, the research explores the experiences of autistic academics as teachers, researchers and employees in higher education. It aims to advance understanding, not only of autistic academics but also more generally of autism at work.

Some of the early findings of the project were published in this article on The Conversation.

Managing Conflict in the Contemporary British Workplace

University of Plymouth 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

University of Plymouth 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 organisational 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

Professor Duncan Lewis 

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.

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).