PhD candidates

Gayathri Wickramasinghe

Gaya, who has completed a Bachelor of Arts & a Master's degree, joined the PhD program at UniSA Business School (Management) in 2016 and is currently working under the supervision of Dr Ruchi Sinha & Dr Chia-Yen (Chad) Chiu. Her research interests revolve around understanding how individuals negotiate power/ status positions in informal hierarchies, particularly in teams working in the healthcare sector. Given the current trend for flatter organisational structures and the popular belief that the inclusion of a lot of experts in a team would enhance the productivity as well as the prominence of the team, Gaya's dissertation titled, "How high power individuals deal with high-status individuals in teams: the role of dominance versus deference" explores how team members with varying bases of power (expertise versus relational competence) negotiate power expressions in the presence of shifting power hierarchies.

Belinda Rae

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

Belinda 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 (2019) of her Ph.D. entitled ‘Tough moves and soft turns: Managing employee behaviour with emotional displays’. Her research program encompasses 3 studies (an interview study and 2 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.

Prajit Deb

Strength of HRM: Measuring the missing link between HRM policies and their effectiveness (Supervisors: Professor Cheri OstroffDr Yoshio YanadoriDr 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 KulikProfessor Anthony McDonnell)

Azmiri 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.



Ehsan Nikookar

Modelling and Improving Supply Chain Resilience (Supervisors: Dr Yoshio YanadoriProfessor Susan Freeman; Advisor: Professor Cheri Ostroff; Associate Supervisor: Dr Andreas Wieland)

Ehsan Nikookar is a doctoral student and active member of the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX).

Ehsan’s professional and academic background is in strategic management and supply chain management. He came to UniSA’s PhD program and joined the CWeX family after three and half delightful years studying and conducting research in Finland and Germany. The outputs of his research have already been published in the leading journals and conference proceedings in supply chain management.

His current academic interests lie at the intersection of supply chain management, organisational behaviour and strategic management. He commenced his academic journey at the UniSA Business School in 2015 with a great passion for solving the supply chain disruption and resilience challenges. To this end, his current industrial-oriented research project seeks to build a bridge between supply chain resilience and individual-level factors inspired from organisational behaviour literature. 

Ehsan has an extensive career history with some of the best-known companies in the manufacturing sectors. Prior to academia, Ehsan worked in car and steel manufacturing companies, where his duties included developing, implementing, and monitoring strategic plans and policies to achieve organisational goals and objectives.


Ruth Sims

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

Followership 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

Vidya 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 the UniSA School of Management 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. Her research is supervised by Dr Gerry Treuren and Dr Mary Bambacas.


Affan Bokhari

Affan 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.

Affan’s PhD supervisory panel include Dr Ruchi Sinha (Principal Supervisor); Dr Chad Chiu (Co-Supervisor); Dr Deanne Den Hartog and Professor Jackie Coyle-Shapiro (Advisors).