PhD Candidate: Social Unsafety in Organisations

PhD Candidate: Social Unsafety in Organisations

Published Deadline Location
24 May 10 Jun Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you intrigued by questions concerning social safety in the workplace, and are you interested in conducting sociological research that will increase our understanding of this societal problem? Then the Sociology Department is looking for you! We offer you the opportunity to develop and carry out your own PhD project within the areas of expertise of supervisors Dr Bas Hofstra, Dr Ashwin Rambaran and Prof. Niels Spierings.

The project will be funded by a Starters Grant from the research institute Radboud Social Cultural Research (RSCR) awarded to Dr Bas Hofstra and Dr Ashwin Rambaran. Social unsafety (encompassing a host of undesirable behaviours) in the workplace is a widespread phenomenon in many organisations, which comes at great costs for both employees (low well-being, low motivation, poor performance, attrition) and organisations (loss of trust and reputation, and high turnover). The research project aims to understand the causes and consequences of social unsafety in the workplace through a sequential mixed methods design combining insights from sociology, psychology, network science, and organisation science. Particular focus is on social unsafety prevalence, why some groups (i.e. marginalised groups) are targets for social unsafety, possible ameliorating factors, and its consequences.

What are the causes of social unsafety, and what are its consequences, and for whom? Organisation research emphasises the role of structure (lack of resources, power differentials), culture (interpersonal communication, accountability), and system (procedures and regulations). However, how do these contextual factors work out for individual people? And does this differ between persons with different backgrounds? People monitor, process and respond differently to socially safe versus threatening situations in their social environment, but how this differs is largely unknown. For instance, the undesirable impact of social unsafety can be countered by resources such as social support and the performance of colleagues, but these resources are unlikely to be equally distributed across all employees. Often (intersectionally) marginalised groups are disadvantaged in this respect.

While there is some insight into the causes and consequences of social unsafety in the workplace, our understanding is still limited, as most research is descriptive or practical. While these studies can be useful to scope the size of the problem or find solutions for a single organisation, they are less useful for developing and testing theories that pinpoint the causes (and their relative impact) and consequences of social unsafety. Such theories are needed to draw reliable and valid conclusions for the general population of organisations and employees. Importantly, theory and research do not differentiate between the processes in organisations for marginalised groups of people, including people with intersecting identities.

As a PhD candidate you will contribute to these research gaps, and apply a sequential mixed-methods design in which an intersectional descriptive paper is followed by a qualitative theory generating study using focus studies, which feed into explanatory quantitative studies, using existing large-scale survey data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) using multilevel analysis to discern explanations and outcomes at the individual and organisational levels. In addition, you will contribute to teaching Bachelor’s students within the Sociology Department (10% of your working time).


Radboud University


  • You hold a Master's or Research Master's degree in Sociology, Social Psychology, Organisational Science or a related discipline.
  • You have experience with quantitative methods, in particular with various forms of regression analysis.
  • You have an affinity, and preferably some experience, with qualitative research methods, in particular in-depth interviews or focus groups.
  • You have good written and spoken English language skills as required for scientific publishing.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 or 5 years.

  • We will give you a temporary employment contract (0.8 FTE 5- year contract - 1.0 FTE 4- year contract) of 1,5 years, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, your contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4-year contract) or 3.5 years (5-year contract).
  • You will receive a starting salary of €2,770 gross per month based on a 38-hour working week, which will increase to €3,539 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Support Service. The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our support for international staff page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the statutory 20.

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


The research programme of the Sociology Department is part of the research institute Radboud Social Cultural Research (RSCR), which brings together the disciplines of sociology, gender and diversity studies, and anthropology and development studies. The Sociology Department offers a Bachelor’s programme and a Master’s programme and is also involved in an interdisciplinary Research Master’s programme in the Social and Cultural Sciences. Both the research institute and the education institute are part of the Faculty of Social Sciences, one of the largest faculties at Radboud University.

The Sociology Department has developed an innovative research programme and a well-established educational curriculum focusing on aspects of inequality, social cohesion and inclusion/exclusion. Research in the department is open to various (inter-)disciplinary perspectives in order to contribute productively to the analysis and better understanding of challenging societal questions. The research programme of the Sociology Department was recently evaluated and assessed as ‘very good’ by the disciplinary Sociology assessment committee. The Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes consistently rank among the best Dutch Sociology programmes in the Elsevier ranking.

PhD candidates at the Sociology Department are part of the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) graduate school and participate in conferences and courses on theory, paper writing and societal impact together with PhD candidates (and staff) from the universities of Groningen (RUG), Utrecht (UU) and Amsterdam (UvA).


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. €2770 per month
  • University graduate
  • 24.046.24



Houtlaan 4, 6525XZ, Nijmegen

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