WHOLE - Research on organizational and social work environment

A group of people sitting in a dark room listning to a speaker.
Photo: Stefan Blomberg

WHOLE stands for Work, Health, Organization, Leadership and Experience. In a number of research projects under WHOLE umbrella, we study how different organizational factors can be linked to the organizational and social work environment, for example leadership, organizational structure, feedback and reward systems and relations. We study this over time to better understand how they are related and affect each other. We analyze how different organizational factors affect the individuals' work experience, health and well-being, but also negative exposure at work (for example exposure to workplace bullying)

Central to WHOLE is a close collaboration with organizations and companies who actively want to work with and improve their organizational and social work environment. During the development of measures, instruments and analytical methods, we worked with three different types of organizations, a large government agency, two municipalities and a large private company. With the help of these organizations, we have over a number of years developed an instrument which includes measures of different aspects of the organization and how it works as well as the employees’ experiences of their work situation, and health and well-being.

A reliable measuring instrument for investigating organizational and social work environment

We now have a reliable and valid measuring instrument that can be used to investigate in depth the organizational and social work environment. We have developed over 40 scientifically tested factors and indicators for different aspects of the work environment that give a good picture of an organization's working environment and conditions for being well-functioning. The instrument originally builds on both empirical evidence from a large number of investigations into organizational and social work environment using semi-structured interviews as well as clear theoretical foundation. The process of creating a measuring instrument based on this started in 2011 and from 2015 onwards, we have carried out about ten surveys in organizations that have been part of the development process. After the development phase we have investigated several more organizations. When we collect data from an organization, we also return the results to the participating organization in a clear and manageable format so that it is possible to work on and improve their organizational and social work environment based on what the results show. From measurement two onwards, we also examine what has happened in the organization and show changes in important areas.

Research funds

In recent years, WHOLE has been granted research funding on three occasions, totalling over 12 million Swedish Kronor in research grants (project leader Professor Michael Rosander). The latest research project began in January 2024, funded by Forte (”An ethical infrastructure to reduce the risk of workplace bullying: The importance of psychosocial safety, justice and conflict management linked to group identification, bystanders and personality”). Like previous research projects, this one also focuses on bullying, but also on sexual harassment and discrimination. We investigate various aspects of the organisational and social work environment and health related to exposure longitudinally, with two surveys approximately nine months apart. The project will collect two types of data; data from a representative sample of working professionals in Sweden (via Statistics Sweden) and data from a number of different companies and organisations. We will begin data collection in spring 2024 in some organisations, but it will continue throughout 2024, with the SCB survey starting in autumn 2024. Follow-up surveys will be conducted nine months after the initial survey in all participating organisations and companies, as well as in the SCB sample.

Previously, WHOLE was granted research funding for a research project on workplace bullying (AFA Insurance, 2017–2020). In that project, data was collected longitudinally (2017 and 2019) from a representative sample of working individuals in Sweden, a random unbound selection (via Statistics Sweden). Data from the representative sample has also given us the opportunity to produce reference values for the factors and indicators that we have developed, so that all organizations that participate can know how their organization positions themselves in terms of the organizational and social work environment in relation to other organizations in Sweden. In 2019, WHOLE received additional research funding. This time from Forte and the research project “Negative social exposure at work – organizational risk factors, consequences and how to mitigate”. It will go on until June 2024.

International collaborations

So far, we have around 30 publications of various types, including books, chapters, reports, and primarily scientific articles, and many more are on their way. We actively collaborate with researchers from, e.g., the University of Bergen and from the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki.

More organizations and companies are welcome to participate

We are currently collecting new data from various companies and organisations. This presents an opportunity for more organisations and companies to not only contribute data to the research but also to receive results that help in developing their organisational and social work environment. If you are interested and would like to know more about what this involves, you are welcome to contact us.
Michael Rosander, michael.rosander@whole.se

Stefan Blomberg, stefan.blomberg@whole.se




Blomberg, S., Rosander, M. & Einarsen, S. V. (in press). Role ambiguity as an antecedent to workplace bullying: Hostile work climate and supportive leadership as intermediate factors. Scandinavian Journal of Management.

Nielsen, M. B., Einarsen, S. V., Parveen, S., & Rosander, M. (2024). Witnessing workplace bullying – A systematic review and meta-analysis of individual health and well-being outcomesAggression and Violent Behavior, 75, 101909. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2023.101908


Rosander, M., & Nielsen, M. B. (2023). Workplace bullying in a group context: Are victim reports of working conditions representative for others at the workplace? Work & Stress. https://doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2023.2283222

Rosander, M., & Nielsen, M. B. (2023). Is there a blast radius of workplace bullying? Ripple effects on witnesses and non-witnesses. Current Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-023-05340-3

Rosander, M., & Nielsen, M. B. (2023). Perceived ability to defend oneself against negative treatment at work: Gender differences and different types of bullying behaviours. Applied Psychology, 72(4), 1430–1448. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12443

Rosander, M., Hetland, J., & Einarsen, S. V. (2023). Workplace bullying and mental health problems in balanced and gender-dominated workplaces. Work & Stress, 37(3), 325–344. https://doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2022.2129514  

Rosander, M. (2023). Könsperspektiv på mobbning i svenskt arbetslivet [Gender perspectives on bullying in Swedish working life]. In H. Sandmarks (Ed.), Ett hälsofrämjande arbetsliv? Utmaningar och möjligheter [A health-promoting working life? Challenges and opportunities] (pp. 81–107). Studentlitteratur.

Rosander, M., & Salin, D. (2023). A hostile work climate and workplace bullying: Reciprocal effects and gender differencesEmployee Relations, 45(7), 46–61. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-03-2022-0127

Rosander, M. & Nielsen, M. B. (2023). Witnessing bullying at work: Inactivity and the risk of becoming the next targetPsychology of Violence, 13(1), 34–42. https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000406

Nielsen, M. B., Rosander, M., & Einarsen, S. V. (2023). Witnessing workplace bullying — protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual health and well-being outcomesSystematic Reviews, 12(1), 119. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-023-02288-0

Zahlquist, L., Hetland, J., Notelaers, G., Rosander, M., & Einarsen, S. V. (2023). When the going gets tough and the environment is rough: The role of departmental level hostile work climate in the relationships between job stressors and workplace bullyingInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20, 4464. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054464


Blomberg, S. (2022). Beware of non-supportive leaders. Moderating effects of supportive leadership on the risks and effects of workplace bullying [PhD Thesis]. Linköping University.

Rosander, M. & Blomberg, S. (2022). Workplace bullying of immigrants working in Sweden. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 33(14), 2914–2938. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2021.1891113

Rosander, M., & Nielsen, M. B. (2022). Workplace bullying and tiredness at work: A cross-lagged prospective study of causal directions and the moderating effects of a conflict management climate. Journal of Occupational Health, 64(1), e12327. https://doi.org/10.1002/1348-9585.12327

Rosander, M., Salin, D., & Blomberg, S. (2022). The last resort: Workplace bullying and the consequences of changing jobsScandinavian Journal of Psychology, 63(3), 124–135. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12794

Blomberg, S. & Rosander, M. (2022). When do poor health increase the risk of subsequent workplace bullying? The dangers of low or absent leadership supportEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 31(4), 485–495. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2021.2003781


Rosander, M. (2021). Mental health problems as a risk factor for workplace bullying: The protective effect of a well-functioning organizationAnnals of Work Exposures and Health, 65(9), 1096–1106. http://doi.org/10.1093/annweh/wxab040 

Rosander, M. & Nielsen, M. B. (2021). Witnessing bullying at work: Inactivity and the risk of becoming the next target. Psychology of Violence. https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000406 

Nielsen, M. B., Rosander, M., Blomberg, S., & Einarsen, S. V. (2021). Killing two birds with one stone: How intervening when witnessing bullying at the workplace may help both target and the acting observerInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 94(2), 261–273. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-020-01575-w


Rosander, M., Salin, D., Viita, L., & Blomberg, S. (2020). Gender matters: Workplace bullying, gender, and mental healthFrontiers in Psychology, 11, 560178.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560178

Blomberg, S. & Rosander, M. (2020). Exposure to bullying behaviours and support from co-workers and supervisors: a three-way interaction and the effect on health and well-being. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 93(4), 479–490. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-019-01503-7


Rosander, M., & Blomberg, S. (2019). Levels of workplace bullying and escalation – a new conceptual model based on cut-off scores, frequency and self-labelled victimizationEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(6), 769–783. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432x.2019.1642874