Research to improve bad bosses

An estimated 50 per cent of people will experience an abusive supervisor during their working lives - potentially causing anxiety, depression, and illness.

A researcher from the University of Waterloo studying the cause and prevention of bad boss behaviour is among those who received a federal grant announced Friday.

Professor Douglas Brown from the Faculty of Arts will receive an Insight grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) worth $246,000.

It will help him further his research about toxic bosses and address the gaps in understanding of their destructive behaviour, which costs the North American economy billions of dollars each year.

''Very little is known about why supervisors are abusive to their employees. What we do know is that they often don't realise the impact they're having on employees and my research is aimed at uncovering how to teach supervisors to resist behavioural impulses and substitute negative behaviour for something more positive, such as coaching,'' said Professor Brown.

Waterloo researchers received 30 Insight and Insight Development grants, totalling more than $4.7 million.

''These grants are long-term opportunities for researchers to further their work and foster research excellence and innovation at Waterloo,'' said D. George Dixon, vice-president, university research at Waterloo. ''The funding will also support one of Waterloo's world-class centres and institutes, the Water Institute, where internationally renowned researchers are tackling global challenges with world-wide impact.''

Professor Robert de LoŽ, of the Faculty of Environment and the Water Institute at Waterloo, will use his Insight grant to inspire new ways of governing water. He wants to change the way we think about water issues by exposing the connections between water and related areas such as energy, food, finance, security and trade.

''My research will focus on why we have been dealing with the same water problems for decades, with too little progress in many cases, and determining how we can reframe water issues to move forward,'' said Professor de LoŽ. ''This grant gives my team and me an extraordinary chance to step back, re-evaluate, and take a strategic approach to research that I hope will make a difference in water governance around the world.''

The goal of both the Insight and Insight Development grant programs is to support new approaches to interdisciplinary research on complex topics to mobilize research knowledge with the potential for intellectual, cultural, social and economic impact.