Affan Bokhari

Supervisors: Dr Ruchi Sinha (Principal Supervisor), Dr Chad Chiu (Co-Supervisor), Dr Deanne Den Hartog and Professor Jackie Coyle-Shapiro (Advisors).

Affan BokhariAffan has a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) from Aston University (United Kingdom). He has over five years of experience working in HRM roles in multi-national and inter-governmental organisations. Affan is a member of an academic honour society (Beta Gamma Sigma-?GS) as well as an associate member of Europe’s largest association of human resource management professionals (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development -CIPD). Before joining the PhD program at UniSA, Affan was a full-time academic faculty at a national university where he taught management courses on Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour.

Affan’s research interests include leadership, power/status dynamics and team innovation. He is particularly interested in exploring how "Charismatic Leadership” can be a double-edged sword with two different and contradictory potentials for influencing team performance: 1) a positive potential of empowering followers through visioning and confidence creation and, 2) a negative potential of creating a Narcissistic/Machiavellian team climate with a low learning orientation. Affan’s research attempts to comprehensively discriminate the leader cognitions and behaviours that could give rise to these two potentials.

Most organisations implicitly or explicitly select and reward charismatic leadership style in their top management leaders. Affan’s research is extremely relevant for organisations as it attempts to identify the tipping point for when charismatic leadership is likely to become destructive and potentially harmful for follower development and organisational innovation. The findings from his PhD research study will help HR managers in several ways as it will provide evidence-based insights: a) to aid the development of personnel selection methods that screen leaders on the dark potential; b) to aid leader training, particularly on how leaders can balance the positive and negative potentials of charisma and c) on how charismatic leadership influences team innovation in organizations.

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.

May Young Loh

Changing PSC in the workplaces: Developing a PSC intervention
Supervisors: Professor Maureen Dollard, Professor Christian Dormann, Dr Sarven McLinton; Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Mohd Awang Idris; Advisor: Mr. Lucas Finch

May Young LohMay is a PhD candidate and interested in how to promote psychological safety at workplaces. Her research mainly focuses on the Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC), job design, and occupational health and well-being. Before joining UniSA, she worked as a research assistant at the University of Malaya, Malaysia for an Australia-Malaysia joint research project funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Her previous research examined the role of PSC in reducing the impact of the demanding and low resourceful work environment. She has published several research papers in psychosocial risk management among frontline healthcare workers.

Her PhD research project aims to put theory into practice, by examining the mechanisms of how to promote a psychologically-safer working environment. By using a participatory approach, her research will involve designing and implementing an organisational intervention that helps to improve the workplaces. The study will be conducted among both Australian and Malaysian healthcare workers. She is also working with Sydney Water by providing suggestions and recommendations for their PSC development project.

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.

Emily Miller

Exploring education for South Australian high school students from refugee backgrounds: a mixed methods examination of high school practice
Supervisors: Associate Professor Tahereh Ziaian (lead), Dr Helena de Anstiss, Dr Melanie Baak, Dr Margaret Secombe

Emily MillerEmily is currently working as a researcher across a number of projects investigating experiences in Australia for young people from refugee backgrounds. She has a background working with high school students in a range of roles, including as a teacher. Her current work focuses on various aspects of resettlement that affect people with refugee backgrounds, particularly young people, such as education, employment and access of services. Emily is interested in exploring effective pathways to access and equity for students in pursuing their aspirations. Her PhD focuses on this topic, and is connected with an ARC Linkage project entitled, "Pathways to active citizenship: Refugee youth and their transition from school to further education, training and employment".

Michelle Oppert

The Engineering Workforce: A mixed-methods examination of psychosocial factors pertaining to successful ageing in the workplace
Supervisors: Professor David Cropley, Professor Maureen Dollard & Dr Valerie O’Keeffe. Advisors: Professor Roni Reiter-Palmon & Mr Markus Bensnes

Michelle OppertMichelle has Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology (UniSA) and a Diploma in Counselling (ACAP) and holds a keen interest in psychosocial wellbeing in the workplace and the benefits that arise from a positive workplace climate including, but not limited to, problem-solving, knowledge, creativity, psychosocial safety and how age impacts these factors.
Michelle’s first project examined aged care workers’ capacity for person-centred care and was assessed using qualitative interviews.

Her PhD is examining a different reference group of workers, engineers, and explores the various factors pertaining to successful ageing in the workplace. The significant increase in the ageing population is impacting all facets of society and requires active examination and problem resolution. Retaining older workers in productive employment is forecast to be a major issue facing governments and organisations as the world enters Industry 4.0 where work will become more cognitive with creativity, problem-solving and communication presenting as key worker attributes required by organisations to enhance innovation.

Using mixed-methods, Michelle has collected her primary data and is currently analysing and reporting on her findings. The project is exploring the key psychosocial factors that impact the work environment and successful ageing within it, specifically from the point of view of engineers. Her work also includes a review of the value of creativity, a critical component of engineering work. Her PhD aims to contribute to the body of knowledge on the ageing workforce and will interpret the findings to address what engineers, and ostensibly other professionals, can offer the workplace as they age.

Michelle also works as a Research Assistant. After the completion of her PhD in 2020, she looks forward to continuing researching and providing applied findings to both academia and industry.

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-Ana Maier

Will you forgive me? The moral licensing of social enterprises
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. 

She has recently begun her PhD focusing on the moral licensing effect of social enterprises. She is interested in extending the moral licensing framework to understand when observers are willing to grant a moral license to social enterprises. She chose a mixed-method design in her research to gain a dual perspective (founder and observer perspectives) on the licensing of organisations.

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.