Employee Profile

Irina Nikolova

Associate Professor - Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour


Irina Nikolova, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at BI Norwegian Business School. She holds a PhD in psychology from Open University of the Netherlands, and has been involved in research and teaching in the Netherlands, UK and Belgium. Her research focuses on organizational change, including digitalized workplaces and employee adaptation, leadership (e.g. engaging leadership, leader-member exchange), organizational climate (e.g. learning climate, job insecurity climate) and smart cities. Her work has been accepted for publication in journals such as Journal of Vocational Behavior, Human Relations, Work and Stress, European Management Journal and Journal of Personnel Psychology. She is a course responsible and lecturer in the master of science and bachelor programs at BI.


Vanderstukken, Arne; Nikolova, Irina, De Jong, Jeroen & Ramioul, Monique (2021)

Exploring types of telecommuters: A latent class analysis approach

European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology Doi: 10.1080/1359432X.2021.1952989

Despite initial evidence on employees’ motives for telecommuting, studies so far never investigated if and how distinct telecommuting motives might co-occur. In the current study (N wave 1 = 1297 employees; N wave 2 = 564 employees), we use Latent Class Analysis and identify three classes reflecting three specific combinations of telecommuting motives: the job requirement class (telecommuting because one has to), the efficiency class (telecommuting to cope with deadlines and pressure) and the work-life balance class (telecommuting to have a healthy balance between work and family/leisure). Our analyses show that employees belonging to the same class also tend to share a certain context (in terms of job characteristics such as speed of work and autonomy). Furthermore, the telecommuting motive classes predicted outcomes six months later: Whereas we found no significant associations between the job requirement class and the study outcomes, employees in the efficiency class reported more vigour and less emotional exhaustion, and employees in the work-life balance class reported more vigour, less emotional exhaustion and more job satisfaction. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Nikolova, Irina; Caniëls, Marjolein & Curşeu, Petru Lucian (2021)

COVID-19 rumination scale (C-19RS): Initial psychometric evidence in a sample of Dutch employees

International Journal of Health Planning and Management Doi: 10.1002/hpm.3165

Objectives Starting with the spring of 2020, COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. Due to its threatening nature, along with the rapid rise in contamination and mortality figures, the spread of the virus has caused a considerable rise in individuals' anxieties. To enable the assessment of the COVID-19-triggered individual rumination, we developed and tested a COVID-19 Rumination Scale (C-19RS). Design and Methods Demographics (i.e., gender, age and education) and several items assessing the proximity of one's exposure to the virus (i.e., whether one's family and close friends are affected) were evaluated as antecedents of C-19RS that provided evidence for the criterion validity of the scale. A sample of 523 Dutch employees working in different companies and sectors completed the online survey in March 2020. Results Results showed that women, older individuals and workers with lower educational level ruminated considerably more about COVID-19. In keeping with prior theoretical and empirical work on stress and coping, we established that COVID-19 ruminative thoughts can unlock withdrawal coping reactions (i.e., self-handicapping) and drain individual's energy (i.e., causing emotional exhaustion), whereby providing evidence for the predictive validity of the new instrument. In addition, we examined how the COVID-19 rumination evolved during the nearly 3-week period of the data collection, a time-frame that coincided with the introduction of the national restrictive measures in the Netherlands. Results showed a drop in the level of rumination, which might be indicative of potential habituation with the stressor. Conclusions The results supported the sound psychometric qualities of the scale.

Nikolova, Irina; Caniëls, Marjolein, Schaufeli, Wilmar B. & Semeijn, Judith Hilde (2021)

Disengaging Leadership Scale (DLS): Evidence of Initial Validity

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH), 18(6) Doi: 10.3390/ijerph18062824 - Full text in research archive

The main goal of this study was to develop a scale for measuring Disengaging Leader-ship (DEL) behaviors and to provide preliminary evidence for the validity of this new instrument. Developing such new measures is needed given current concepts that tap into negative leadership behaviors are rarely based on a sound theoretical framework. Drawing on the core premises of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) regarding employees’ basic needs and, more specifically, building on its more recent extended framework, including employees’ needs frustration, we derived four dimensions that constitute Disengaging Leadership behaviors (coercive disengaging leadership, isolating disengaging leadership, eroding disengaging leadership, and demotivating disengaging leadership). To examine the factor structure and psychometric properties of the new Disengaging Leadership Scale (DLS), Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), and reliability analyses were conducted. Results supported the hypothesized four-factor structure of the DLS and showed that this factorial structure remained invariant across employees occupying blue-collar, white-collar, or managerial positions. Finally, we successfully tested convergent, divergent, and construct validity of DLS. We established that DEL is associated with employees’ needs frustration and with their experiences of emotional exhaustion. It is concluded that the DLS has sound psychometric properties and can be used in future research on the dark side of leadership.

Van den Brand, Wilfred; Stynen, Dave, Wognum, Ida & Nikolova, Irina (2021)

Bevorderen van innovatief werkgedrag door transformationeel leiderschap: de mediërende rol van psychologische veiligheid en teamleren

Gedrag & Organisatie, 34(2), s. 148- 179. Doi: 10.5117/G&O2021.2.001.BRAN

Deze studie onderzoekt op individueel niveau en teamniveau de mediërende rol van psychologische veiligheid en teamleren in de relatie tussen transformationeel leiderschap (TFL) en innovatief werkgedrag (IWG). Er werd een cross-sectioneel surveyonderzoek uitgevoerd onder medewerkers van drie media- en marketingbedrijven in Nederland, waaraan in totaal 164 medewerkers participeerden, afkomstig uit 39 werkteams. Door middel van multilevel padanalyse werden de data op zowel individueel niveau als teamniveau geanalyseerd. De onderzoeksresultaten tonen aan dat TFL positief samenhangt met IWG en haar dimensies ideeëngeneratie, ideeënpromotie en ideeënimplementatie, op zowel individueel niveau als teamniveau. Op individueel niveau werd sequentiële mediatie door psychologische veiligheid en teamleren vastgesteld in de relatie tussen TFL en ideeënpromotie en ideeënimplementatie. Op teamniveau werd sequentiële mediatie door psychologische veiligheid en teamleren vastgesteld in de relatie tussen TFL en ideeënpromotie. Door het multilevel design en de keuze voor mediatoren die het sociale proces onderliggend aan IWG reflecteren, draagt deze studie bij aan het beter begrijpen van de manier waarop TFL innovatief gedrag in de werkcontext kan bevorderen.

Van Hootegem, Anahi; Nikolova, Irina, Van Ruysseveldt, Joris, Van Dam, Karen & De Witte, Hans (2021)

Hit by a double whammy? Trajectories of perceived quantitative and qualitative job insecurity in relation to work-related learning aspects.

European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology Doi: 10.1080/1359432X.2021.1891890

The aim of this study was to identify developmental patterns of job insecurity, taking into account quantitative as well as qualitative job insecurity, and to examine if these groups vary with regard to different work-related learning aspects, that is, occupational self-efficacy, learning from supervisor and colleagues, and acquired knowledge and skills (KSAOs). We conducted latent class growth analysis using three-wave data of 1366 Dutch employees. Five job insecurity patterns were identified: (1) high stable (n = 132), (2) moderate-low stable (n = 555), (3) low stable (n = 217), (4) decreasing (n = 357) and (5) increasing (n = 105). In every class, the change pattern was similar for quantitative and qualitative job insecurity. Those in trajectories with high initial levels of job insecurity had lower initial levels of occupational self-efficacy, learning from others, and KSAOs than those with low initial levels of job insecurity. Additionally, job insecurity trajectories differed in the development of occupational self-efficacy over time. The findings indicate that there are distinct trajectories of the combination of quantitative and qualitative job insecurity, and that these demonstrate a substantial amount of heterogeneity concerning work-related learning.

Nikolova, Irina & De Jong, Jeroen (2020)

Keeping up with the pace of change: a recipient-centered perspective on change and its outcomes

Griep, Yannick & Hansen, Samantha D. (red.). Handbook on the Temporal Dynamics of Organizational Behavior

We discuss organizational change (OC) events from the recipient’s perspective, and stipulate that these events account for a range of different learning and well-being outcomes. We offer a typology of change derived from two facets of employee change experiences: frequency and impact. We propose that each change event can trigger different learning and stress-related outcomes, and offer a theoretical rationale explaining why we deem it likely that each change event will be associated with specific outcomes. We further theorize that time will play a significant role in how change affects employees, and suggest that the duration of the exposure to change (in addition to the change frequency and impact) will largely account for employee change experiences and change-related outcomes. In addition, we discuss how the sequence of occurrence of change events and the prior change experiences (i.e., the recipient’s evaluation of the prior change experience as rather positive or negative) may determine how current change events will be approached. We conclude the chapter by elaborating on the challenges that lie ahead, and propose avenues for future research based on the theoretical propositions made in this contribution. You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Curşeu, Petru Lucian; Semeijn, Judith Hilde & Nikolova, Irina (2020)

Career challenges in smart cities: A sociotechnical systems view on sustainable careers

Human Relations Doi: 10.1177/0018726720949925

Smart cities are a modern reality in an increasingly digitized and fast changing world; and, as multidimensional, multilayered and interconnected career ecosystems they bring a number of challenges for the development of sustainable careers. What are the systemic roots of these challenges, and how can we deal with them to support the emergence of sustainable careers? We draw on a sociotechnical approach, supplemented by a dynamic person–environment fit perspective, to describe two systemic challenges tied to the development of sustainable careers in smart cities, namely: (1) an unbalanced fit, in that the highly digitized context fits best with highly educated and information and communications technology (ICT) literate citizens working in knowledge intensive organizations; and (2) a volatility of fit, associated with the complex and fast-changing smart urban context. Based on the sociotechnical analysis, we put forth three suggestions for addressing these challenges and creating a sustainable career ecosystem focused on: (1) the continuous development of ICT literacy, knowledge, talents and skills; (2) citizen participation and career communities; and (3) network-centric organizing of sustainable careers that could alleviate some of the challenges associated with the parallel development of sustainable careers and smart cities.

Vanderstukken, Arne; Nikolova, Irina & Ramioul, Monique (2019)

Technical literacy, communication literacy and skill development in virtual teams: Validating a scale and finding facilitating conditions

Presses Universitaires de Namur.

Nikolova, Irina; Schaufeli, Wilmar B. & Notelaers, Guy (2019)

Engaging leader – Engaged employees? A cross-lagged study on employee engagement

European Management Journal Doi: 10.1016/j.emj.2019.02.004

Nikolova, Irina; Van Dam, Karen, Van Ruysseveldt, Joris & De Witte, Hans (2019)

Feeling Weary? Feeling Insecure? Are Workplace Changes all Bad News?

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) Doi: 10.3390/ijerph16101842www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph

Nikolova, Irina; Van der Heijden, Beatrice, Låstad, Lena & Notelaers, Guy (2018)

The ‘Silent Assassin’ in your organization: Can job insecurity climate erode the beneficial effects of a high-quality leader-member exchange?

Personnel Review Doi: 10.1108/PR-09-2017-0266

Doorn, Yvonne; Van Ruysseveldt, Joris, Van Dam, Karen & Nikolova, Irina (2016)

Understanding well‐being and learning of Nigerian nurses: a job demand control support model approach

Journal of Nursing Management

Nikolova, Irina; Van Ruysseveldt, Joris, Van Dam, Karen & De Witte, Hans (2016)

Learning climate and workplace learning: Does work restructuring make a difference?

Journal of Personnel Psychology

Nikolova, Irina; Van Ruysseveldt, Joris, De Witte, Hans & Van Dam, Karen (2014)

Learning Climate Scale: Construction, reliability and initial validity evidence

Journal of Vocational Behavior

Nikolova, Irina; Van Ruysseveldt, Joris, De Witte, Hans & Syroit, Jef (2014)

Work-based learning: Development and validation of a scale measuring the learning potential of the workplace (LPW)

Journal of Vocational Behavior

Van Dam, Karen; Nikolova, Irina & Van Ruysseveldt, Joris (2013)

Het belang van ‘leader-member exchange’ (LMX) en situationele doeloriëntatie als voorspellers van job crafting.

Gedrag & Organisatie

Nikolova, Irina; Van Ruysseveldt, Joris, De Witte, Hans & Syroit, Jef (2013)

Well-being in times of task restructuring: The buffering potential of workplace learning

Work & Stress

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
2015 Open University of The Netherlands PhD
2011 Tilburg University MSc in Leadership and Psychology
Work Experience
Year Employer Job Title
2020 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Associate Professor
2017 - 2020 Open University of The Netherlands, Faculty of Management Assistant Professor
2017 - 2017 KU Leuven, Faculty of Psychology & Educational Sciences Researcher
2016 - 2017 Norwich Business School Assistant Professor
2015 - 2015 Research Institute for Work and Society, KU Leuven Researcher & consultant