Research overview

The aim of the Institute’s research programme is to combine scientific quality with practical relevance.

In scientific terms the emphasis is on developing and testing theory about the effects of work on employee well-being and performance, and doing so using rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods, with particular emphasis being placed on the use of longitudinal and change studies.


As well as drawing upon a range of sub-disciplines of psychology and management, work is conducted in collaboration with other disciplines appropriate to the topic under investigation such as:

  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Economics
  • Computer Science

Practical relevance is ensured by focusing research on work practices and issues of contemporary and emerging significance, and conducting empirical studies within and in collaboration with industrial, commercial and public organisations.

View our current research projects

Research projects

The Institute has contributed to core areas of work psychology and related areas including:

  • Job redesign
  • Training and learning
  • Teamworking
  • Emotional labour
  • Job stress
  • Knowledge capture
  • New forms of work organisation
  • Human resource management
  • Employment Relations
  • Health Organisation

Here we detail some of the IWP’s current research projects:

Start-up Journeys for Social Good

The number of individuals and collectives who aim to create social good through entrepreneurial methods is growing, yet we know very little about the process of developing ideas into social ventures. Start-up Journeys for Social Good is a research project designed to help us understand and improve the process of starting up ventures for social impact. The research project tracks social entrepreneurs as they develop and evolve their ideas over time and how the process can be positively influenced.

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Evaluating and improving learning effectiveness in organisations

This project has two broad themes. The first is to develop and test theoretical frameworks to evaluate the impact of learning activities in organisations. The second is to identify the factors that influence the effectiveness of individual / team training and development initiatives and organisational learning practices. Using a range of methodologies, the aim is to provide practical guidance and tools to help organisations enhance the efficacy of their learning activities.
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Developing employee creativity and organisational innovation

Improving the quantity and quality of innovation is an increasing concern for organisations. This project sets out to explore strategies for enhancing employees´ ability to generate new ideas and the organisation´s capacity for implementing those new ideas. There is a particular focus on creativity training interventions and we have developed a new approach (the `CLEAR IDEAS´ model) which is being piloted as a method of increasing the innovation skills of employees.
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Emotion Regulation of Others and Self (EROS)

How do people change their own feelings and the feelings of their colleagues? These are the sorts of questions that researchers at the Institute of Work Psychology are investigating in a 4-year project (2008-2012) “Emotion Regulation of Others and Self (EROS): A Collaborative Research Network” awarded an ESRC large grant (£2.1 million). Led by IWP, the project is a collaborative venture – involving investigators from the Universities of Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester, Reading, and Wolverhampton – that aims to answer fundamental and applied questions concerning the nature and effects of emotion regulation.
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Unacceptable Behaviour, Health and Well-being at Work

Work-related violence carries many risk implications for both employees and employers. The effects of work-related violence are felt both in employees’ health and well-being and at organisational level, for example, through staff absences. Using an innovative approach, the broad aim of the research is to advance and diffuse knowledge of the causal relationships between work-related violence and well-being outcomes for employees. The research, funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), aims to uncover the most important moderators and mediators of these causal relationships. The ultimate aim is to identify targets for the development of interventions to limit the risks to employees’ health, from work-related violence.
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Business-driven Social Change - A Systematic Review of Evidence

First evidence suggests that business can be a force for good, positively impacting communities, our environment and society. This systematic review will synthesize the best available evidence to date on how businesses can create positive societal change towards more sustainability. This project is funded and intellectually supported by the Network for Business Sustainability (nbs.net), Canada.
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Social Entrepreneurs as Lead Users for Service Innovation (SELUSI)

SELUSI is an international and interdisciplinary research project funded by the European Commission under Framework Program 7, SSH with 1.5 Mio. Euro. SELUSI aims to advance the knowledge base on social entrepreneurship and social innovation through a large-scale panel survey of European social ventures, case studies as well as lab and action-oriented field experiments. From this unique blend of fundamental and applied research, we aim to distill new public policy insights that can inform EU and national policy-making with respect to the competitiveness of the service sector, the roles of social ventures and service innovation. We also experiment with strategies how companies and social entrepreneurs can collaborate to create sustainable and social service innovations.
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Quality and Safety in the NHS: Evaluating Progress, Problems and Promise

This is a multi-method, multi-institution project funded by the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme. Based at Aston University, it evaluates how organisational culture and behaviour related to quality and safety in the NHS has changed in the light of recent policy initiatives including the White Paper of July 2010. Using a variety of surveys and case studies, it will produce sustainable learning about how to secure a focus on quality and safety.
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Staff Satisfaction and Organisational Performance: Evidence from the NHS Staff Survey

This is an 18-month project, analysing existing data to determine links between staff attitudes and behaviours and organisational performance in the NHS. It examines areas such as staff engagement, communication, stress, violence and bullying, linking these with outcomes such as patient satisfaction, mortality rates, financial performance and infection rates in NHS trusts, with the aim of producing actionable findings for NHS managers and policymakers.
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From metrics to meaning: Culture change and quality of acute hospital care for older people

A three-year study funded by the NHS NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research Programme. The project focuses on organizational culture and patient care in one area of the NHS where the importance of culture and the need for cultural change has already been identified as central to the delivery of improved care: Acute health services for older people.
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Working at a Distance

This research stream is concerned with the impacts and effectiveness of virtual and mobile work. It involves a range of projects in different work contexts aimed at understanding the role that technology mediated communication and collaboration has on well-being and the way people work.
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Motivation, Well-being and Behaviour

This project is identifying principal sources and correlates of well-being and motivation in work and other settings. It focuses particularly on processes within a person rather than merely influences from the environment, for example examining job-related wants and continuing personality dispositions in relation to different forms of well-being.
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The Management of Careers in and out of Organisations

This is a collection of related projects involving several IWP staff and doctoral students. All are at different stages. It includes the development of organisational career capital; the experience of leaving education and trying to enter the labour market; how people in work to which they are unsuited cope with this; the career development of people over 50 years old; designing jobs that meet people’s career needs; and the contribution of leisure activities to career development.
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Thriving in the Workplace

‘Thriving in the workplace - supporting people at the age of 55 years and over in satisfying and productive work’ (Thriving at 55+) is a two-year research programme funded by Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships, FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF.
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Leadership Within and Between Groups

This research focuses on psychological processes within and between small dynamic groups, such as teams or divisions, and larger social categories ranging from organisations to ethnic and national groups. This line of research is framed largely by the social identity theory of leadership (Hogg, van Knippenberg & Rast, 2012a) and the theory of intergroup leadership (Hogg, van Knippenberg & Rast, 2012b). Multiple research projects are currently underway examining (a) the conditions under which deviant, peripheral, or non-prototypical leaders can become influential within their groups; and (b) how leaders transcend conflict-charged intergroup relations to build or negotiate followers’ commitment to an overarching and unitary group vision, then motivate collective organisational action in realization of that vision. These projects have direct implications for organisational leadership and performance, as well as social change and mobilisation.