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People, Organizations & Entrepreneurship (POE)

POE Research Centre

The POE Research Centre brings together a hugely talented, multidisciplinary team of vibrant young academics, professors and senior staff who have a wealth of teaching and industry experience. Often classified as world-leading, our research focuses on human resource management, employment relations, organisational behaviour, performance at work, and entrepreneurship.  

Beyond this, we are united in our passion for understanding the human side of enterprise and we are committed to our contribution to the University’s cross-cutting research theme of Sustainable Societies.

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Who do we work with?

Our team are engaged in a number of world-leading research collaborations. We work with businesses, industry associations, public sector organisations, and policymakers. We have a solid track record of generating income and managing projects funded by leading research and industry bodies such as the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust.

How do we work?

Our research is delivered through collaborative R&D projects, business consultancy work and through executive training and education programmes. Our published work contributes to leading text and handbooks and a number of our staff serve as Editors or sit on international editorial boards for top-tier journals in the fields of Human Resources Management and Organizational Behaviour.  POE research also informs our study programmes within the School of Management to ensure all of our teaching is research-led.

Research Areas

Beyond the core focus of the POE research the group has continued to develop a number of inter-related themes of research excellence in employee selection, workplace innovation, trust in organisations, work-life balance and employee well-being. Staff members have particular expertise in five core areas of research strength.

1. Workplace innovation management

In this theme we study the precursors, processes, effects and outcomes of creativity and innovation in the workplace. This work is focussed at an individual and team level primarily, but we draw upon inter-disciplinary theoretical perspectives and groundings for this major research theme.

2. Trust in organizations

We focus particularly on trust development and dynamics at the individual and team levels, its impact on performance, and examine the determinants and consequences of trust and control strategies within team- and organisation-level trust development and repair.

3. Employment relations

We are interested in improving workplace relations, voice at work and the broader experience of work.  Some of our work centres on work organisation, work-life balance and low-paid work.

4. Well-being at work

We are particularly interested in well-being at work as an important core business strategy that can lead to greater resilience, innovation and productivity. Our research promotes an understanding of how certain work practices can have a positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of a business by focusing on key areas such as leadership, decision-making, teamwork, and innovation. 

5. Employee selection and assessment

We have particular expertise and experience in staff recruitment and selection processes, validation, fairness audits, and performance management outcomes. Taking both an organizational and an applicant perspective, this theme addresses all major selection predictor methods including interviews, assessment centres, and psychometric testing procedures.

NASA Jupiter Mission

Professor Ana Cristina Costa together with Professor Neil Anderson have worked with the NASA-Johnson Space Centre in Houston Texas, USA, advising space crew teams on developing and maintaining team trust in relatively small team sizes in extreme environments of long-duration missions, involving challenging conditions of isolation and confinement.

The research is a targeted literature review and a series of qualitative interviews with a list of experts working in such confined conditions over several months. A major output of this has been a comprehensive feedback report to NASA where both Professors Anderson and Costa presented this at the annual NASA Human Sciences Conference in Houston. We are currently working on how these key finding can contribute to shape the selection and training practices of NASA astronauts and other support technical staff for long duration space missions. We have published our report and elements of this work have recently been published in a 4-star paper published at the ‘Journal of Organizational Behavior’.

Spaceman on spacewalk by spacestation

The Forgotten Workers

Dr Andrew Smith’s current research, with Dr Jo McBride (Durham University), is entitled ‘The Forgotten Workers – low-paid multiple employment’.  This research project is the first UK study to critically investigate the working lives and work-life balance complexities of low-paid workers who have more than one job in order to make ends meet. We have conducted detailed qualitative interview with 50 low-paid workers, along with trade union representatives and managers. 

The team are currently working with employers and trade unions to develop policies and practices around low-paid and precarious employment. We have published our research report and have recently had an article published in ‘Work, Employment and Society’.  We have had our research cited in the House of Commons and House of Lords, and been featured on Radio 4, in the ‘Telegraph and Argos’ and ‘Personnel Today’.

Image showing Minimum Wage highlighted as text in a dictionary

Digital Service Transformation in UK Public Sector

Dr Amizan Omar investigates the role of actors and structures in institutionalising the digitally-enabled service transformation (DEST) in the UK public sector.

The impetus for this project came from the failure of a number of multi million pound DEST projects in the country. The research proposed a conceptual framework grounded on Institutional Theory and Structuration Theory concepts, derived from the analysis of four past DEST cases in the UK.  This framework was developed and used in a qualitative enquiry that explored the biggest welfare reform in history, i.e. the Universal Credit Programme through interviews, focus groups and review of documentary and parliamentary-select-committee-media evidence.

The findings offer insights into the deinstitutionalisation and structuration processes in the study of DEST institutionalisation, which facilitates better comprehension on the implementation of change in public institutions. The study concluded that actors and structures play important roles in structuring the DEST institutionalisation process as working practice in public institutions. Actors could manipulate structures of meaning, power and norms to promote desired actions in shaping practices that support DEST institutionalisation. The elements of this research have been published in peer reviewed articles and conference proceedings.

Job Centre window with sign saying Universal Credit is now online

POE Research Centre Staff