Project Workplace Exclusion

Understanding physiological responses to daily acts of workplace exclusion [PhD Project]

This project focuses on studying (mal)adaptive physiological responses to subtle acts of exclusion. It aims at developing behavioral interventions that are effective in combating workplace exclusion and promoting inclusion. In order to create transformative, systemic change, we need to gain more insight into inclusive behaviors and train our managers, employees, peers, and students to act and react more inclusively. This project is part of the Adaptive Societies, Organizations, and Workers theme.

Inclusion as a societal challenge

The detrimental effects of social exclusion on individuals, organizations, and society are well documented. Being excluded can jeopardize psychological and physical health outcomes and can impede work and career outcomes. Despite well-intended diversity and inclusion initiatives, recent social movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter indicate that exclusion is still widespread. Exclusion today often takes the form of subtle daily acts of exclusion, called micro-exclusions. Transforming towards a more inclusive society thus inevitably means targeting micro-exclusions.

Inclusion as a scientific challenge

How micro-level exclusive behaviors shape experiences of workplace exclusion, and the role that physiological responses play in this, is largely absent from the academic literature. This interdisciplinary project will contribute significantly by solving a substantial part of the mechanistic puzzle that links subtle acts of workplace exclusion to (mal)adaptive physiological responses (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system). Understanding the mechanistic processes explaining the link between mind and body is a prerequisite when designing interventions that improve inclusive behaviors. Based on a more integrative understanding of how exclusion is experienced, responded to and coped with by targets and bystanders, we aim to develop and test a training program that helps foster inclusive behaviors. 

The research team

Sanne Nijs is Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University. She is interested in talent management, talent development, inclusion and diversity. She studies workplace exclusion and the (un)favorable work and career outcomes they generate.

 Stefanie Duijndam is Assistant Professor at the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University. She is the manager of the Behavioral Physiology Research Lab (GO-Lab) and has unique expertise in researching multimodal responses, i.e. the subjective experience, behavioral expression, and physiological responses of adults.

Hans van Dijk is Associate Professor at the Department of Organization Studies, Tilburg University. He is a leading researcher in the field of diversity and inclusion and studies the role that micro-level exclusive behaviors may play in fostering experiences of exclusion and sustaining social inequalities.

Marloes van Engen is Associate Professor Transformation Management at SHRM, Radboud University. She is an expert in the field of diversity, inequality, and inclusion and has experience in conducting intervention studies on inclusive micro-behaviors.

 Charissa Freese is Endowed Professor at the Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University. She has a chair in Inclusive HRM and Social Security and is the director of the People Management Center, a platform for co-creation between science and practitioners in the HRM field.

Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.