Research Profile

Elaine O'Brien


Elaine O’Brien is a Chartered Psychologist (BPS) and lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour at University College Cork (UCC).  She is Co-Academic Director of the MSc in HRM and Higher Diploma in HRM. Elaine holds a BSc (Hons) Occupational Psychology (University of Ulster), MSc in Organisational Psychology (UMIST) and PhD (UCC).   Prior to joining UCC Elaine gained considerable industrial experience in both public and private sector organisations working as a HR professional and Senior OD Consultant. Her current research interests lie in the area of Emotional Labour, Employee Resilience and Employee Engagement. Recent engagement with industry includes an examination of diversity, inclusion and engagement practices in a leading multi-national company.  Elaine's work is published in high ranking Journals including Journal of Management Studies, Human Relations, Journal of Business Ethics and International Journal of Human Resource Management.

Research Interests

Current research interests lie in area of Occupational & Organisational Psychology.  Specifically I am interested in the interrelated areas of Emotion at work; Emotional Labour; Employee well-being and Engagement and Psychological Capital.  With employment becoming increasingly precarious and demanding, I am interested in exploring employee experiences of work and how organisation and HRM practices can be arranged to promote work that diverse individuals experience as meaningful, expressive and dignified.  


Peer Reviewed Journals

(2017)'From tell-tale signs to irreconcilable struggles: The value of emotion in exploring the ethical dilemmas of human resource professionals'
Linehan, C. and O'Brien, E. (2017) 'From tell-tale signs to irreconcilable struggles: The value of emotion in exploring the ethical dilemmas of human resource professionals'. Journal of Business Ethics, 141 (4):763-777 [DOI] [Details]
(2018)'The Last Taboo?: surfacing and supporting Emotional Labour in HR work'
O'Brien, E. & Linehan, C. (2018) 'The Last Taboo?: surfacing and supporting Emotional Labour in HR work'. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29 (4):683-709 [DOI] [Details]
(2014)'A balancing act: Emotional challenges in the HR role'
O'Brien, E. and Linehan, C. (2014) 'A balancing act: Emotional challenges in the HR role'. Journal of Management Studies, 51 (8):1257-1285 [Details]

Professional Activities

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
British Psychological Society Chartered Member/
University Forum for Human Resource Development Member/
Chartered Insitute of Personnel and Development Associate Member/

Conference Contributions

(2016)Institute of Work Psychology Conference,
Linehan, C. and O'Brien, E. (2016) Faking it to make it? Challenging the need to bring the authentic self to work via a study of emotional dissonance. [Oral Presentation], Institute of Work Psychology Conference, Sheffield , 21-JUN-16 - 23-JUN-16. [Details]
(2008)Irish Academy of Management,
Gubbins, C., Linehan, C. & O'Brien, E.; (2008) The emotional labour of HR managers to build social capital. [Oral Presentation], Irish Academy of Management, Dublin , 01-SEP-08 - 03-SEP-08. [Details]
(2008)Irish Academy of Management,
Linehan, C. & O'Brien, E. (2008) The Insincerity of Trying to be Sincere: Learning the Emotion Display Rules to be a HR Manager. [N/A], Irish Academy of Management, Limerick . [Details]
(2008)Irish Academy of Management,
O'Brien, E. (2008) Emotional Labour in the Human Resource Profession – Management Prescribed or Employee Driven?. [N/A], Irish Academy of Management, Limerick . [Details]


 EmployerPositionFrom / To
SX3, Viridian Group PLC Senior Management Consultant/
Parity Solutions Plc HR Consultant/
Craigavon Area Hospital Group Trust HR Manager/
Mentor Economic Development Consultants Consultant/


2011University College Cork PHDCommerce
1992UMIST MScOrganisational Psychology
1987Univerisity of Ulster BSC (HONS)Occupational Psychology


Simon Community
Training Needs Analysis of Northern Ireland's Homeless Young People
NI Business Development Agency
Review of Community Business Programme
Training & Employment Agency and FAS
Feasibility Study - International Youth Development Centre
NI Equal Opportunities Commission
Review of Equality of Access to Training Provision in Northern Ireland

Journal Activities

 JournalRoleTo / From
International Journal Of Human Resource Management Referee-

Teaching Activities

Modules Taught

 Term (ID))TitleLinkSubject
2019Contemporary Issues in HRM MG6317Contemporary Issues in HRM

Contact details

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School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K