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Dr Varuni Wimalasiri

Dr Varuni Wimalasiri

Senior Lecturer in Innovation

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Streatham Court, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK

Varuni Wimalasiri is a Lecturer in Innovation. In her research, she applies principles in psychology to understand problem-solving and decision-making and has a special interest in risky (error-prone) environments.

Varuni joined Exeter Business School in 2010 as a Lecturer in Innovation. She undertook her PhD at The University of Nottingham, where she looked at safety knowledge sharing in high-risk environments. She was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship by the University of Nottingham to undertake her PhD.  Varuni continued her research work through a post-doctorate, funded by the Economic and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) at Loughborough University, under the supervision of Professor Kevin Daniels, looking at Innovation in design in the UK Medical device industry. She has also been involved in various other projects looking at problem-solving and some of these work contexts include: the UK oil and gas, nuclear and the medical sectors. In addition to the EPSRC she has also had funding from the UK Railway Safety and Standards board for her research.  Varuni’s current research interests focus on Organisational Creativity with a special interest in error prone and complex organisational systems.  Varuni started her lecturing career in late 2009 at Plymouth University before coming to Exeter. Varuni teaches in the areas of creativity and innovation, organisational psychology and human factors.  She welcomes any inquiries from potential PhD candidates who are interested in conducting research within her areas of interest (please see ‘research’ for more details). 

Qualifications

BSc, MSc, PhD, CPsychol

Research

Research interests

  • Applied (occupational / organisational) psychology
  • Cognition in organisational contexts
  • Sensemaking
  • High-risk (error-prone and complex) work contexts
  • Creativity and innovation in high-risk contexts
  • Behaviour and decision making in clinical work and environments
  • Mixed methods

Dr Wimalasiri‘s research interests are driven by wanting to understand organisational behaviour and processes through the lens of applied psychology. More specifically, her research work and interests are in the areas of problem-solving and decisions making in risky and complex organisations.

She uses mixed methods of enquiry in her work and her approach to qualitative methods is couched strongly in psychological theory. She has used a variety of methodologies to understand how people solve problems under complex and/or uncertain conditions (e.g. cognitive mapping; diaries etc.).

Previous major research grants include grants from the Railway Safety and Standard Board and the Economic and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Dr Wimalasiri has worked with both the public and private sectors in the UK and in south-east Asia. Her current work looks at decision-making and creativity within clinical environments.

Research projects

  • ‘Decision-making behaviour in clinical settings and its transfer to trainees’, funded by Plymouth University Business School, Seedcorn Fund (2010)
  • ‘Designing for Innovation and Safety’, with Daniels, K. et al, funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (2008)
  • ‘Nature of safety-related knowledge sharing in the UK Railway Industry’, with Cox, T and Jones, D, funded by The Railway Safety and Standards Board / The University of Nottingham (2002)

Other funding

  • Drurie, R, Ashwin P,Keedwell E, Wyatt K, Wills, A, Griffin J, Chappell, K, Wimalasiri V and Craft A (2011), The relations between creativity in mathematical and biological systems, creativity as mental process and creativity in the social world, Bridging the Gaps (EPSRC): The Exeter Science Exchange Application for funding.
  • Funding for national seminar series for BAM special interest group (SIG) in Organisational Psychology, with Billsberry, J, funded by British Academy of Management (2009)

Key publications | Publications by category | Publications by year

Key publications


Daniels K, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne A, Storey D (In Press). Linking demands-control-support model to innovation: the moderating role of personal initiative on the generation and implementation of ideas. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84(3), 581-598.
Daniels, K, Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne A (In Press). Problem solving and well-being: Exploring the instrumental role of job control and social support. Journal of Management
Daniels K, Beesley N, Cheyne A, Wimalasiri V (2008). Coping processes linking the demands-control-support model, affect and risky decisions at work. Human Relations, 61(6), 845-874. Abstract.

Publications by category


Journal articles

Wimalasiri V, Daniels, K, Beesley, N, Cheyne, A (In Press). Affective Well-Being and Within-Day Beliefs about Job Demands’ Influence on Work Performance: an Experience Sampling Study. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Daniels K, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne A, Storey D (In Press). Linking demands-control-support model to innovation: the moderating role of personal initiative on the generation and implementation of ideas. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84(3), 581-598.
Daniels, K, Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne A (In Press). Problem solving and well-being: Exploring the instrumental role of job control and social support. Journal of Management
Wimalasiri V, Beesley N, Cheyne A, Daniels K (2010). Social construction of the aetiology of designer error in the UK oil and gas industry: a stakeholder perspective. Journal of Engineering Design, 21(1), 49-73. Abstract.
Daniels K, Beesley N, Cheyne A, Wimalasiri V (2008). Coping processes linking the demands-control-support model, affect and risky decisions at work. Human Relations, 61(6), 845-874. Abstract.

Conferences

Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K (In Press). Control, Support and Designer Problem-Solving: Relationships to Cognitive Error, Affect Well-Being and Performance. Institute of Work Psychology Conference.
Wimalasiri V, Wimalasiri V (2011). When rebelling against the system becomes a good thing: lessons from the banking crisis. 15th Annual conference of the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) conference.
Wimalasiri V, Wimalasiri V (2011). When rebelling against the system becomes a good thing: lessons from the banking crisis. 15th Annual conference of the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) conference.
Daniels K, Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne AJT, Cohen L, Hislop D (2010). Problem Solving and emotion: Regulation in action. British Psychology Society, Division of Occupational Psychology Conference.
Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels KJ, Wimalasiri V (2008). Behind Regulation: the Designers Perspective. British Psychology Society, Division of Occupational Psychology Conference.
Wimalasiri V, Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K (2008). Is it Safe Enough Not to Think About Safety? the Paradoxical Impact of Positive Safety Climate and Socio-Cognitive Factors on Safety Critical Design and its Implications for Managers. British Academy of Management.
Wimalasiri V, Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K (2007). Attributing Causes for Error: a Study Comparing Designers and End-Users in the Offshore Industry. British Psychological Society, Division of Occupational Psychology Conference.
Daniels K, Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Wimalasiri V (2007). Coping with Problem-Solving Demands: Examining how Control and Support Influence Cognitive Error and Risky Decisions in Nuclear Design Work. the 13th European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology.
Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K, Wimalasiri V (2007). Risk and the Design Engineer. European Association of Work and Organizational Psychologists.

Publications by year


In Press

Wimalasiri V, Daniels, K, Beesley, N, Cheyne, A (In Press). Affective Well-Being and Within-Day Beliefs about Job Demands’ Influence on Work Performance: an Experience Sampling Study. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K (In Press). Control, Support and Designer Problem-Solving: Relationships to Cognitive Error, Affect Well-Being and Performance. Institute of Work Psychology Conference.
Daniels K, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne A, Storey D (In Press). Linking demands-control-support model to innovation: the moderating role of personal initiative on the generation and implementation of ideas. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84(3), 581-598.
Daniels, K, Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne A (In Press). Problem solving and well-being: Exploring the instrumental role of job control and social support. Journal of Management

2011

Wimalasiri V, Wimalasiri V (2011). When rebelling against the system becomes a good thing: lessons from the banking crisis. 15th Annual conference of the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) conference.
Wimalasiri V, Wimalasiri V (2011). When rebelling against the system becomes a good thing: lessons from the banking crisis. 15th Annual conference of the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) conference.

2010

Daniels K, Beesley N, Wimalasiri V, Cheyne AJT, Cohen L, Hislop D (2010). Problem Solving and emotion: Regulation in action. British Psychology Society, Division of Occupational Psychology Conference.
Wimalasiri V, Beesley N, Cheyne A, Daniels K (2010). Social construction of the aetiology of designer error in the UK oil and gas industry: a stakeholder perspective. Journal of Engineering Design, 21(1), 49-73. Abstract.

2008

Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels KJ, Wimalasiri V (2008). Behind Regulation: the Designers Perspective. British Psychology Society, Division of Occupational Psychology Conference.
Daniels K, Beesley N, Cheyne A, Wimalasiri V (2008). Coping processes linking the demands-control-support model, affect and risky decisions at work. Human Relations, 61(6), 845-874. Abstract.
Wimalasiri V, Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K (2008). Is it Safe Enough Not to Think About Safety? the Paradoxical Impact of Positive Safety Climate and Socio-Cognitive Factors on Safety Critical Design and its Implications for Managers. British Academy of Management.

2007

Wimalasiri V, Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K (2007). Attributing Causes for Error: a Study Comparing Designers and End-Users in the Offshore Industry. British Psychological Society, Division of Occupational Psychology Conference.
Daniels K, Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Wimalasiri V (2007). Coping with Problem-Solving Demands: Examining how Control and Support Influence Cognitive Error and Risky Decisions in Nuclear Design Work. the 13th European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology.
Beesley N, Cheyne AJT, Daniels K, Wimalasiri V (2007). Risk and the Design Engineer. European Association of Work and Organizational Psychologists.

External positions

  • Member of the Division of Occupational Psychology, British Psychological Society
  • Committee member of the Southwest Branch of the British Psychological Society

Dr Wimalasiri‘s teaching interests are in the area of innovation, particularly within applied psychology, high reliability and change contexts. Her specialisms include:

  • Applied (occupational / organisational) psychology
  • Creativity and innovation
  • High-risk work environments
  • Organisational change
  • Ethics Officer

Taught modules

Modules

2016/17

Information not currently available