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Insight Development Grant awarded to Anika Cloutier

Posted by Mallory Rae on August 13, 2021 in News

Rowe School of Business researcher and assistant professor Dr. Anika Cloutier is one of several Dalhousie faculty members who have been awarded the SSHRC IDG Grant.

  • The SSHRC IDG grant will help Dr. Cloutier investigate whether employees’ mental health affects their likelihood of emerging into leadership roles.
  • Dr. Cloutier’s research focus is leadership, mental health and the work-home interface.
  • Her research also examines who ends up in formal leadership roles, who does not, and why, with the purpose of identifying barriers to leadership.


Dr. Cloutier’s research centres on the topics of leadership, mental health and the work-home interface with a specific focus on examining predictors of leadership. For example, she examines what causes leaders to engage in high quality leadership behaviours versus destructive behaviours with the aim of identifying how organizations can foster better quality leadership. She also considers who ends up in formal leadership roles, who does not, and why, with the aim of identifying barriers to leadership opportunities. The SSHRC IDG grant will be supporting Dr. Cloutier who will be working with Dr. Alyson Byrne of Memorial University and Dr. Julian Barling of Queen’s University to specifically investigate whether employees’ mental health affects their likelihood of emerging into leadership roles.

Dr. Cloutier was inspired to pursue this line of research through her casual observations of workplace behaviour. “One observation I consistently make is that people place considerable emphasis on the role of organizational leaders in our society. Organizational successes and failures are largely attributed to leaders; during times of crisis, we look to leaders for purpose, direction and support. We often discuss with one another who our leaders are, what attributes they possess and how they treat people in the workplace. This means that leaders matter significantly, and we care about who occupies these roles and who does not.” Dr. Cloutier and her colleagues are extending existing research that finds that gender, intelligence, personality and even genetics partially explain who ends up in leadership roles. The central theory guiding Dr. Cloutier and her colleagues is that employees with high well-being will be more likely to apply and be selected for leadership roles, while individuals with mental illness will be more reluctant to apply and will be denied leadership opportunities. The goal of Dr. Cloutier’s research is to understand the barriers to leadership ascent, as this would better equip organizations with targeted intervention strategies to engender a more inclusive workforce, at all levels of the organizational hierarchy.

Courses and Other Research

At the Rowe School of Business, Dr. Cloutier teaches courses on organizational behaviour and people management. These courses serve one central purpose to students and their degrees: to learn about the very important role of human behaviour in organizations. In her classes, students explore several causes of human behaviour at work, one of which is mental health. It is Dr. Cloutier’s hope that she can integrate findings from this study into these courses so that students can better understand how mental health influences workplace behaviours and why organizations should care about employee well-being.

Dr. Cloutier is currently working on three other research projects. First, along with Dr. Barling, she is conducting a daily diary study of how leaders’ lives at home spill over into their leadership behaviours at work. For the second research project, Dr. Cloutier is working with Dr. Byrne and Dr. Barling collecting longitudinal data to examine the impact of COVID-19 work-from-home measures on couples, who for the first time were forced to work together at home. The third research project is being done with Drs. Kyle Brykman, Dan Samosh and Erica Carleton. It investigates the role of mental health in voice and silence behaviours at work by examining whether weekly variations in mental illness symptoms affect employees’ willingness to speak up at work.