Prajit Deb

Strength of HRM: Measuring the missing link between HRM policies and their effectiveness
Supervisors: Professor Cheri Ostroff, Dr Yoshio Yanadori, Dr Shruti Sardeshmukh

Prajit Deb’s previous studies include a Bachelor in Business, an MBA and a Bachelor of Management (Honours), all at UniSA. Prajit is currently finalising his PhD proposal for his panel presentation in early 2016.

Previously, Prajit worked full time for over ten years in organisations in various managerial positions and noticed gaps that exist between the organisation’s implemented HR practices, as seen by the leaders, and how they are differently interpreted by employees which can lead to mismatched behaviour and subsequently sub-par results. Prajit’s honours year research experience highlighted this extant gap within the literature as well.

Prajit’s PhD study focusses on the factors that help reduce gaps between leaders and employees so they are on the same page in how they interpret the HR practices. On the part of the leader, gaps should be reduced when leaders foster trust among employees, are visible and clear in implementing the practices, provide employees with opportunities to voice and make suggestions, and have similar values to those of employees. From the employee perspective factors such as group cohesion, the degree of trust in their leaders and feedback seeking behaviour will be examined. The HR function can help reduce gaps by implementing HR practices in a way that makes them highly salient and visible to leaders and employees. The results of the study should provide insights in how to reduce these gaps to maximise organisational effectiveness.

Azmiri Mian

Indigenous business networks: A social exchange and social capital analysis
Supervisors: Professor Carol Kulik, Professor Anthony McDonnell

Azmiri MianAzmiri Mian has over 18 years of experience in human services, both in government and non-government agencies in disability employment, aged care quality and compliance and Indigenous health sectors. She has worked in policy development, strategic management and human resource management capacities. Her last position was working in Aboriginal Health and developing the agency’s Indigenous health programs. With a limited Indigenous workforce there were some complexities in achieving organisational goals, and many questions unanswered. Hence the PhD. Her research area is in social exchange processes in organisational networks in a large Indigenous organisation. The study has the potential to develop a cross-cultural research program to address key issues in developing and retaining a globalised workforce by understanding why social networks develop, and how they can be exploited to increase organisational outcomes.

Azmiri has worked in various projects, such as barriers to employment for people with disabilities, the importance of cultural festivals for Indigenous Peoples’ well-being, as well as looking at how quality management systems and practice standards are not often aligned and creates issues in organisational sustainability. As a qualified social worker, Azmiri still keeps close to her professional roots. She has a Bachelor and Master in Social Work, and a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology). Azmiri has developed a commitment to Indigenous health, education and employment. She is dedicated to educating others to learn and be involved in Indigenous life and economic outcomes.

Amy Parkin

Digital Communication and Work Stress in Universities: A Multi-level Study.
Supervisors: Professor Maureen Dollard and Dr Silvia Pignata. Advisor: Mrs Jenny Hardy

Amy ParkinAmy is a PhD candidate with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours). Her honours research investigated how Psychosocial Safety Climate theory operates under conditions of job insecurity. Amy’s main interests are workplace digital communication, Psychosocial Safety Climate, workplace psychosocial risk factors and work-related psychological health.

She has recently begun her PhD focusing on digital communication and work stress in Australian universities. Digital communication within organisations has become more frequent and research is needed to determine the effect this is having on employees’ psychological and physical health. Her PhD is connected with an ARC Discovery grant entitled, “Digital Communication and Work Stress in Universities: A Multi-level Study”.

Belinda Rae

Tough moves and soft turns: Managing employee behaviour with emotional displays
Supervisors: Professor Carol Kulik, Dr Sanjee Perera, Dr Sukhbir Sandhu

Belinda RaeBelinda has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (UniSA) and is interested in the ways people communicate. In her first research project, she interviewed employees about how they told their bosses they were going to quit – and how their bosses reacted to the news. That experience showed her that communication between managers and employees is particularly challenging. Since joining CWeX as a PhD student, Belinda has been learning more about gender differences in communication. She notes ‘It’s not an even playing field: What works for men can seriously backfire for women.’
Belinda is in the final year of her Ph.D. entitled ‘Tough moves and soft turns: Managing employee behaviour with emotional displays’.

Her research program encompasses three studies (an interview study and two experiment studies) investigating the consequences that result when managers display strong emotions (e.g., anger or disappointment) in the workplace. Preliminary findings from Belinda’s research show that compared to their male counterparts, female managers constrain their emotion displays. This suggests they are sensitive to the prescriptive gender stereotypes employees hold about women being warm, and to the negative consequences of violating those stereotype expectations. And that sensitivity might serve them well - results from the experiments suggest that showing little emotion (neutral condition, compared to anger and disappointment) helped to protect female managers’ sense of warmth and improved their outcomes.
Belinda looks forward to continuing her research in workplace diversity, communication, and management at the completion of her Ph.D.

Ruth Sims

Individual and organisational followership expectations and behaviours and their contribution to performance and wellbeing
Supervisors: Professor Ingrid Fulmer, Dr Sanjee Perera, Professor Deanne Den Hartog, and Ms Erma Ranieri

Ruth SimsFollowership is the focus of Ruth’s PhD research. Effective leadership is recognised as important in achieving organisational outcomes. However, leadership is unlikely to be sufficient without followership. It is not yet clear what effective followership is or the contribution it makes.

Ruth’s research employs a mixed methods approach to explore followership from the perspectives of both followers and leaders through interviews and to test whether congruence between followers’ and leaders’ followership expectations is significant for outcomes of follower wellbeing and performance through a survey. Data collection is being undertaken within the South Australian public service. A better understanding of followership will have practical implications including the selection and recruitment, recognition, and development of employees with followership as well as leadership capabilities.

Ruth’s previous professional experience is in management, communication, and organisational development within the higher education sector with postgraduate studies across leadership and organisational development and human resources management. She holds a Masters Degree in Educational Management. Ruth is an active member of the Australian Human Resources Institute and is currently an AHRI State Councillor.

Vidya Vishnu

Supervisors: Dr Gerry Treuren and Dr Mary Bambacas.

Vidya VishnuVidya has completed an MBA with specialisation in Human Resource Management and Marketing and holds a Bachelor’s degree in commerce (B.Com, specialisation in Taxation) from Mahatma Gandhi University, India. Having worked as an executive in the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and after a career break of 5 years, she recently joined UniSA to pursue a PhD. Her area of interest is the organisational citizenship behaviour of migrant employees in the aged care sector. In particular, she is exploring the reasons for their behaviour and especially why they choose to leave the industry.


Gayathri Wickramasinghe

Supervisors: Dr Ruchi Sinha (Principal Supervisor), Dr Chad Chiu (Co-Supervisor), Professor Cheri Ostroff (Advisor) and Professor Deanne Den Hartog (Advisor).

Gaya, who has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) and a Master's degree, joined the Centre for Workplace Excellence as a PhD student in 2016, after working for several years in the higher education and not for profit sectors. As her research interests mainly revolve around power, informal hierarchies and team conflict, particularly in relation to employees in knowledge intensive industries, in her PhD research project, she explores how task experts with different areas of core functional knowledge working together in teams with less hierarchical differentiation among its members, engage in expertise sharing as they work towards team goals.

Gaya is particularly interested in learning how task experts working in such contexts establish and signal their expertise to their peers and also how they acknowledge the relevance of the peers' expertise as they work together - what types of influence processes do such task experts use  to establish their expertise and thereby gain the peers' concurrence? What type of communication patterns and processes work in such contexts and what does not?  Using a mixed method research design that includes an exploratory interview study followed by two experimental studies, she seeks to understand  how interpersonal communication processes aid and disrupt knowledge sharing in functionally diverse teams.  As an output of her study, Gaya hopes to identify successful team work processes in relation to expertise sharing and communication that would enable peers working in such teams to work collaboratively together, minimising debilitating interpersonal issues.

Julia-Anna Maier

Social enterprises challenges and possibilities

Supervisors: Professor Carol T Kulik (Principal Supervisor), Dr Sanjee Perera, Associate Professsor Sukhbir Sandhu (Co-Supervisors)

Julia-AnnaJulia-Anna is a full-time PhD candidate with a Social Worker master’s degree in counselling and Case management. She worked for the German government at the department for child protection near Munich. In this role, her responsibilities include working with families focusing on child protection, custody cases and supporting children during those challenging life situations. Her bachelor thesis focused on gender stereotypes and the development of male and female roles in German children's books and was awarded for the best bachelor thesis in the year 2013/2014 from the Forum Soziale e.V Mainz. Further, in her master thesis, she made a historical analysis of female social workers in Germany during National Socialism. Her research interest followed qualitative interviews with a female social worker and survivor of the German concentration camp.

On weekends, Julia-Anna works with traumatised young girls in a therapeutic home for a not-for-profit organisation in Adelaide.

Her main interests are gender stereotypes, gender diversity in organisations, social enterprises and organisational behaviour. 

Her PhD research focuses on social enterprises' challenges and possibilities. Julia- Anna's PhD project examines founders' experience leading social enterprises and their challenges along the way.

Jia Romy Menghao

LGBTQ+ young adults’ resilience and everyday information mastering on social media
Supervisors: Associate Professor Tina Du (Principal Supervisor), Dr Diane Velasquez (Co-Supervisor)

Romy is a PhD candidate with a bachelor’s degree in information management and information system and a master’s degree in library and information science. She has always been passionate about human information behaviour and working with marginalized communities. In 2019, she started her PhD project investigating the information behaviour of LGBTQIA+ young adults on social media and its influence on their wellbeing and resilience. Using qualitative research methods, she explores the lived experience of LGBTQIA+ community by collecting and analysing the first-hand narrative data and second-hand online forum data. Her research interests include community informatics, health information seeking behaviour of marginalized communities and information mastering on social media.

Kathryn Stephenson

A Multidimensional Employee Cynicisim Scale: Developing a Theoretically Sound and Empirically Valid Measurement Tool
Supervisors: Dr Ruchi Sinha (Principal Supervisor), Professor Maureen Dollard, Dr Amy Zadow (Co-supervisors)


Kathie Stephenson

Kathryn is a PhD Candidate at UniSA Business and a committed member of CWeX. She has a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours). Kathyrn received first-class honors for her research work with the Australian Centre for Child Protection. She also received the Chancellor’s Letter of Commendation recognising her honors research and for being in the top 5% of students in her field/division of study.  Kathryn is also a Vice-Chancellor and Presidents Scholarship Recipient, an award given to the top commencing PhD Candidate in each academic unit.


Kathryn’s PhD research focusses of understanding employee cynicism and developing a theoretically sound and empirically valid tool to measure employee cynicism. Four in five employees are disengaged at work, costing organisations over $8 trillion yearly due to decreased productivity (Gallup, 2021). One in every two employees exhibits some form of cynicism. Cynicism can be contagious and toxic in workplaces. What Kathryn has found so far is that cynicism is not just an abstract negative emotional state but includes specific feelings of hopelessness, disillusionment accompanied with behaviours of withdrawing and stepping away. Kathryn’s empirically valid and novel measurement tool will allow organisations to identify cynicism early and to reduce productivity loss and the damage caused when it remains unidentified and spreads. The tool will also pave the way for more rigorous future theoretical and empirical advancement on this topic.

In addition, Kathryn is directly working on a project with the SA Department for Education on understanding how to create productive climates to improve well-being and engagement in education. She loves learning new things, thinking outside the square, problem-solving, and travel.  Kathryn brings real-world experience to her research from her time working in local government, finance, small business, and management. Her overseas volunteering with NGOs is also a testament to her care and concern for vulnerable populations and her compassion towards helping others.

After her PhD, Kathryn looks forward to continuing her scientific research in organisational behaviour and justice.