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Sharon Parker is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, and a John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Curtin Faculty of Business and Law.

Research Focus - Great Work Design for All

Sharon is passionate about improving the quality of people’s work.  She founded and now directs the Centre for Transformative Work Design, which is a research centre funded by the Australian Research Council, Curtin University, and other industry and competitive grants.

The vision of the Centre for Transformative Work Design is to “transform work, through work design, to create better lives for workers, more effective organisations, and a flourishing society".

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Examples of research conducted in the centre

  • What is the role of work design in delivering the benefits, or mitigating against the detriments, of radical change in work and society?

  • What is the role of work design in accelerating individual learning and development, including preventing cognitive decline? 

  • Which work designs optimize psychological growth across the lifespan?

  • How can work design enable coordinated agility within and across teams - reconciling the tension between control and flexibility – to achieve teams that are both efficient and innovative?

  • Which global, national, organisational, and individual processes shape, and are shaped by, work design?

  • What knowledge, skills, and motivation help stakeholders to design good work?’

  • How can work be designed to accommodate the needs of mature workers? 

  • What makes work healthy, both in the short term and in the longer term?”

As an example of one of the six research streams, Centre researchers are developing a 20 year longitudinal research study called Working Across Lives and Careers, which will track workers’ job designs, mental health, career experiences, attitudes, personalities, and identities as work changes into the future.

As part of the Centre, Sharon has developed the SMART work design model to help get research findings into practice. She also co-developed with colleagues the Thrive at Work initiative, which is a comprehensive model and set of implementation tools for improving mental health at work.

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Research Focus - Proactivity or "Making things Happen"

Sharon conducts research on proactivity in the work place. Being proactive at work is about using initiative, taking charge, and ‘making things happen’. This active form of behaviour is increasingly important in today’s challenging work environments, yet it is behaviour that is hard to foster and all too easy to undermine.


Sharon conducts research on topics such as: What is proactivity? When is it important? How is it important?  If it is important, how do we promote it? Can proactive behaviour cause harm? Are some people more proactive than others?

  • Worker learning and development

  • Job performance

  • Work teams

  • Job insecurity

  • Safety at work

Other Research

Sharon conducts research on many other topics including:

  • Future of work due to technological transformation

  • Stress at work

  • Personality development

  • Employee perspective taking

Research Grants

Sharon has received more than $40 million in competitive grants.

See current and ongoing grants


2020 $94,000 Parker, S. K., Gilbert, J., & Butcher, S. FIFO Worker Mental Health and Wellbeing Research. Industry grant.

2019 $1,404,352 Jorritsma, K., Griffin, M., Parker, S. K., Wilson, M., Boeing, A., Hosszu, K., Cham, B. Optimising crew endurance and performance: Mitigating transitional work systems design risks for a future maritime platform. The Defence Science and Technology Group of the Department of Defence.


$11,580 Orchard, M., Finnerty, D., Jorritsma, K., Parker, K., & Adams, K. (2019). Thrive at Work Industry Engagement: Assessment findings and recommendations. Perth, Western Australia.

2017-2022 $500,000 NHMRC Partnership Centre For Health System Sustainability. The Australian Institute of Health Innovation. With the Department of Health, and others

2017-2019 $550,000 Thrive at Work Strategy. Government of Western Australia, Mental Health Commission. With K. Jorritsma, and others.

2017-2021 $416,949 A dynamic and temporal perspective to optimise to team resilience. Defence, Science, and Technology Group, Human Performance Research Network (HPRnet). CIs: Gucciardi, D., Ntoumanis, N., Crane, M., Ducker, K., Peeling, P., Parker, S.K, Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., & Quested, W.

2017-2021 $1,061,551 Future submariner performance and endurance implications for a crewing concept. Defence Science and Technology Group. CIs: K. Jorritsma, Griffin, M.A., & Parker, S. K.

2017-2024 $27,250,000 ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CE170100005). CIs: Piggott (Director); McDonald; Anstey; Keane; Parker; Sherris; Baird; Bateman; Clarke; Cumming; McKibbin; Woodland; Fang; Mitchell; Nazroo.

2016-2021 $5,870,256 Transformative work design for health, skills and agility. ARC Laureate Award ($2,917,224, ARC, FL160100033) plus matched funding from UWA/ Curtin.

2016-2021 $200,000 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Award. $100,000 from ARC; $100,000 from UWA.

See full list of research grants.

Career Background


Sharon received her PhD from the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom) in 1994. Following a couple of research positions at the University of Sheffield, she took on various roles including the position of Associate Dean (Research) at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales Business School.

Between 2006 and 2009, Sharon was the Director at the Institute of Work Psychology back at the University of Sheffiled and upon her return in Australia, she joined the University of Western Australia Business School as a Professor of Organisational Behaviour. Sharon was awarded an ARC Laureate Fellowship in 2016 and subsequently founded the Centre for Transformative Work Design.

Today, Sharon is a John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Organisational Behavior at Curtin University and the Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design at the Future of Work Institute (Curtin University).

PhD supervision

Read more

Ph.D. Supervision


2018 - present

  • Cheryl Yam
    (80% with Dr Yukun Liu) Too much of a good thing? Autonomy and role clarity at work

  • Jia-Xin Tay
    (75% with Dr Ramon Wenzel) Work characteristics and employee well-being: generating insights usindata-driven research methods


2020 - present

  • Lucinda Iles (60% with Dr Daniela Andrei)

  • Eva Zellman (60% with Dr Daniela Andrei)

Successful PhD completions


  • Anu Bharadwaj (20% with Dr Patrick Dunlop, Dr Lisette Kanse & Dr Leon Straker) Investigating autonomy as an antecedent of moral disengagement. Currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Future of Work Institute

  • Georgia Hay (30% with Dr Alex Luksyte) The effect of occupational context and culture on work design cognitions. Currently a Forrest Research Foundation Fellow at the Centre for Transformative Work Design.

  • Bin Wang (55% with Dr Yukun Liu) It may not be as bad as you think: the use of social media at work and its effects.

  • Fangfang Zhang (Primary supervisor, 80%) The role of job crafting in promoting employees' person-job fit, well-being and performance Co-supervisor: Prof. Marylene Gagne (20%)Currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Transformative Work Design

  • Zijun Cai (1st supervisor; completed 2018)

  • Joseph Carpini (1st supervisor)- completed 2018

  • Huw Flatau-Harrison (3rd supervisor) – completed 2018

  • Francesco Cangiano (1st supervisor)- completed 2017

  • Sonia Raghav (2nd supervisor with Cristina Gibson)- completed 2017

  • Rachel Percy (co-supervisor, with Kerrie Unsworth and others)

  • Patrick (Ian) Boudville (2nd supervisor)

  • Andrea Steele (co-supervisor, completed Feb. 2016)

  • Chiahei Wu  (1st supervisor) 2013 [Recipient of the BHP Billiton PhD Prize]

  • Carolyn Axtell (1st supervisor)

  • Tom Calvard (1st supervisor)

  • Uta Bindl (1st supervisor)

  • Karoline Strauss (2nd supervisor)

  • Judith McCormick (1st supervisor)

  • Catherine Collins (1st supervisor)

  • Nick Turner (1st supervisor)

Successful Masters by Research completions

Shen-Yang Lin (2015) “Understanding the psychological processes of innovating from failure”

PhD committees - Nancy Kohn, Tracey Pillinger, Catriona Wallace, Meredith Rogers.

I have supervised approximately 25 masters students in their major research projects, including one student from the Masters in Organizational Psychology course, Psychology Department, UNSW, and several from the Masters in Occupational Psychology course at the Institute of Work Psychology.

Career highlights

Sharon was named among the world’s most influential scientists and social scientists in the 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list released by the Web of Science Group, and the only female in Australia appearing on this list in the field of Economics and Business.

Sharon is an Honorary fellow at the University of Western Australia, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Sheffield where she was previously Director at the Institute of Work Psychology.

She is a recipient of the ARC’s Kathleen Fitzpatrick Award, and the Academy of Management OB Division Mentoring Award.

Sharon was nominated for the Centre for Management Consulting Excellence Consulting Research Awards 2020 for the paper 'Remote managers are having trust issues',
published in Harvard Business Review 30 July 2020.

The Centre for Management Consulting Excellence facilitates the sharing of academic research and practitioner experience in the field of management consulting both in the UK and internationally. The Research Awards recognise and encourage research that is of potential value in management consultancy.


Professional contributions

Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences

Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Past Associate Editor for Academy of Management Annals

Past Associate Editor of Journal of Applied Psychology


PhD supervision


Teaching and executive education

Sharon has delivered executive education and workshops on topics such as leadership, design thinking, work redesign, self-management,  proactivity, and organisational change; the design and development of organisational leadership programs;  and the development of leadership evaluation processes and measures. 

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