Professor Karina Nielsen

Chair in Work Psychology

Room: B.028
Phone: +44 (0)114 222 0983
Prof Karina Nielsen  

Karina joined the Institute of Work Psychology at the Sheffield University Management School in October 2016. Prior to this, Karina was Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology at the University of East Anglia, UK.

Karina completed her PhD in Applied Psychology at the University of Nottingham, UK in 2003 and then returned to her native Denmark to work as a researcher, senior researcher and professor at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen.

Since 2003, Karina has been Principal or Co-investigator on more than 15 externally funded research projects, and has published over 50 refereed journal articles.


Karina's research interests fall in the category of changing organisations. Her main strand of research is that of participatory, organisational interventions. She has developed and tested models for how organisations can design, implement and evaluate organisational intervention that aim to promote employee well-being through changing the way work is organised, designed and managed. Karina is particularly interested in evaluation design. She has developed evaluation methods that may help researchers and organisations understand what works for whom in which circumstances.

Karina's second strand of research involves understanding how restructuring influences employee well-being. Restructuring often has a negative impact on employee well-being and she studies how restructuring can be implemented such that it achieves its objectives and at the same does not have detrimental effects on employee well-being.

Finally, Karina's third strand of research focuses on leadership and well-being. She explores how the leadership of line managers can help create a good environment for their employees giving them the opportunity to develop and thrive in their jobs. She is particularly interested in exploring the conditions for "good" leadership.

In her research, Karina uses qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research designs.

PhD Supervision

Karina is interested in supervising students in topics related job design and well-being. She supervises in topics related to bottom-up job redesign, e.g. job crafting and top-down job redesign, i.e. the changes we can make to the way work is organised, designed and managed to improve employee health and well-being.

Karina has widespread expertise in supervising PhDs in evaluation. This includes the evaluation of individual-level interventions such as leader and employee training and how such training can successfully be transferred to daily working life and the evaluation of organisational interventions to understand what works for whom in which circumstances.

Karina also supervises on leadership and well-being and she invites students who are interested in exploring the dark side of leadership. She is interested in supervising students who want to explore how leaders can ensure high performance at the same time as ensuring employees' well-being.

Many of Karina's PhD students have published their work in high impact journals.

Examples of recent keynote lectures

Designing, implementing and evaluating participatory organizational interventions to improve employee wellbeing. 2018, DOP annual conference. Stratford-Upon-Avon. See also:

Getting to Grips with Organizational Interventions: What Works for Whom under Which Circumstances? 2016, European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology. Athens, Greece. See also:

Improving well-being at work: How can we make our interventions work? Interactive keynote with Professor Michael Leiter. 2016, International Conference of Work Psychology. Sheffield, UK.

Models for managing work-related stress: an international perspective. 2016, Closing conference INAIL. Rome, Italy.

Managing for well-being – Best practice and perspectives on the management standards. 2015, Faculty of Occupational Medicine Autumn Conference, Royal College of Physicians. Dublin, Ireland.

Organisational intervention to improve the psychosocial work environment: Implementation issues. Semi-plenary session. 2015, International Commission of Occupational Health. Seoul, North Korea.

The ability of line managers to make or break an intervention. 2015, European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology. Oslo, Norway. See also:

The role of line managers making changes happen. 2014, WAOP. Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Organizational interventions: The ability of leaders to make or break an intervention. 2013, OHP Summer Institute. Halifax, Canada.

How can we organize and implement workplace health promotions to ensure a successful outcome? 2013, HELIX International Conference. Linkoping, Sweden.

Grants at Sheffield University

Name of project





The Improvements in Organizations Network:Understanding the demands for designing, implementing and evaluating changes in organisations from a multi-disciplinary perspective


SEK 448,200



Solving the productivity puzzle: Ensuring sustainable return to work for workers with common mental disorders

ESRC Productivity Insight Network


Principal Investigator


ESTEEM - European Safety Training and Evaluation supporting European Mobility



Principal investigator


Psychosocial work environment during organisational changes - an intervention project

National Research Fund for the Working Environment

DKK 3.800.000.



Are we in the same boat? Leader and employee perceptions in connection with health promoting

AFA Insurance

SEK 3.448.000.



New developments in organizational interventions, new evaluation models – a Nordic multi-disciplinary approach.

NOH-HS (Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences)

SEK: 437.000

Senior expert


Qualitative research study on organisational-level interventions reducing the negative effects of restructuring on employees in large company establishments



Senior expert


Previous Key Principal Investigator Grants

Out of mind, out of sight? OSH leadership for distributed workers. Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. £103,293.

Resource: Good management, employee participation, work environment, well-being, and productivity/readiness for change in Nordic companies. Nordic council of ministers, 900.000 DKK.

Participatory interventions from an organisational perspective (PIOP). National Work Environment Research Fund. 3.852.677 DKK.

Managing teams. National Work Environment Research Fund, 3.095.616 DKK.

Professional Activities, Recognition and Other Information

Work & Stress Top Paper Award 2008. Awarded to Karina Nielsen et al for their paper entitled 'Success or failure? Interpreting and understanding the impact of interventions in four similar worksites' published in Work & Stress, Volume 20, 2006.

Best Practices Intervention Competition Awards 2009: Honorable Mention. Awarded to Karina Nielsen & Raymond Randall for their paper: Does participation mediate the effects of team implementation on employee well-being and job satisfaction? A longitudinal field study. Awarded by: American Psychological Association.

Early Career Achievement Award 2009. Awarded to Karina Nielsen. Awarded by American Psychological Association.

Eusebio Rial-González Innovation & Practice Award in Occupational Health Psychology from the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology (EAOHP) and European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

See also:

Editorial work

Associate Editor: Work & Stress, Applied Psychology: An International Review.

Editorial board member: Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, The Leadership Quarterly, Human Relations, Journal of Business and Psychology, Occupational Health Science.

Current chairs/boards

Chair of the Research Forum and member of Executive Committee. European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology

Associate member Society of Organizational and Industrial Psychology

Research affiliate Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) - a research centre of excellence funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. CPH-NEW is a joint interdisciplinary initiative of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Connecticut.

Research affiliate Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.

Member of ENOP – the European Network for Work and Organizational Psychology Professors in Europe. Member of the CoCo – coordinating committee of ENOP.