Professor Kerrie Unsworth

Professor Kerrie Unsworth


Dr Kerrie Unsworth is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Leeds University Business School. People spend most of their waking hours during most of their life at work, so Kerrie's main interest is in how we can make work-life work for everybody. With a background in psychology and a keen interest in making the world a better place, her aim is to help people and organisations find the best solutions for productive, fulfilling and socially responsible workplaces.

More specifically, Kerrie studies and teaches topics such as motivation, creativity, pro-environmental behaviours, leadership, inclusion and well-being. Underlying each of these is an interest in understanding how we juggle the different priorities we have as individuals and how we juggle the different priorities that occur across relationships.

Kerrie obtained an Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Queensland in 1994 and a PhD from the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield in 2001. She has won over £1 million in funding and has been cited over 4000 times in academic journals. Her work has appeared in prestigious journals across a number of disciplines including , Academy of Management Review, Global Environmental Change, and Reliability Engineering & Safety Systems. Finally, Kerrie is currently an Associate Editor at Human Relations and an Editorial Board member of Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management Studies, and Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 

Research interests

Kerrie’s research focuses on how we juggle our goals, tasks and identities and the effect this has on motivation and particular behaviours such as leadership, collaboration and pro-environmental behaviour. She has a strong belief in the need for both rigour and relevance. As such, although her research is varied in that it includes both qualitative and quantitative methods, it is always in-depth and focused on how it can make a difference to the world.

Together with her colleague, Dr Elisa Adriasola, she has developed a tool to help people gain a thorough awareness of who they are, what they do, and how their values can enable them to achieve their potential. Moving beyond traditional, and largely inadequate, methods of personal analysis, Goal Hierarchy maps out multiple levels of a person’s life. What do they believe in? What are their aims? What must they achieve on a day-to-day basis? This can help with leadership development, teamwork, organisational culture, well-being, and inclusion. To get more details click here: If you are interested in using this for research in your organisation, please contact Kerrie.

Kerrie's current projects include:

  • Workplace CSR and pro-environmental behaviour – What can a company do to increase socially-responsible and pro-environmental behaviours in its employees? What happens when being a good employee means not being as green/socially responsible as you could be? How can you have it all?
  • Leadership & identity juggling – Can you be a leader and a friend? How can you be a leader when you don't fit the stereotypical leader identity; and how does that relate to inclusion? How does leadership develop when you are juggling benevolence and power identities?
  • Social entrepreneurship - How do social entrepreneurs juggle their financial and social goals?
  • Employee engagement and motivation - How can organisations improve employee engagement while respecting the employees' other goals? How can we increase motivation for specific tasks (such as creativity) or specific identities (such as being a leader) while taking into account a person’s other tasks, goals and identities?
  • Collaboration & organisational goal juggling - How much does an organisation's, and a collaborative relationship's, effectiveness improve when their goals are made salient? How do individuals' goals fit into the organisation's goals?
  • Physiology and organisational behaviour – How does our body’s physiology (e.g., heart rate variability) affect how we behave at work?

If you are interested in answering any of these questions - or similar - in your own company, please contact Kerrie.

Student education

Kerrie teaches in the areas of leadership, organisational behaviour and research methods. She works with undergraduate students, postgraduate coursework students, postgraduate research students, and in executive education.

Research groups and institutes

  • Workplace Behaviour Research Centre
  • Socio-Technical Centre

Current postgraduate researchers