Sustainable Education and Employment in the Knowledge Economy (SEEK)

Members of our research group



Post-doctoral researcher

Teaching assistant & PhD canditate

PhD candidate

Teaching assistant

Description of research group

Knowledge has become the central driver in many economies and it propels societies towards increased innovation, production, information and technology. This knowledge economy taps more than ever into the human resources and demands adequate education and skills in order to function in rapidly changing contexts. Deepening and disseminating the knowledge economy requires uplifting and democratizing education, an optimal flow of knowledge between schools, universities, companies and government as well as sustainable work and employment conditions. SEEK studies how we can reshape the world of work in the knowledge economy by focusing on sustainable education and sustainable work and employment. SEEK adopts an interdisciplinary approach, combining insights from HRM, employment relations, labor law and clinical psychology. It looks into the interplay between micro levels (individual, leader-member relations), meso levels (team/organization/sector) and macro levels (labor market/society). SEEK engages in both fundamental research and applied research and advises universities, industries, governments and science policy makers. It has unique expertise in careers of doctorate candidates and doctorate holders in and beyond academia.

Current research topics

Sustainable employment relations and social dialogue 

In this research line, SEEK studies employment relations, social and work protection, as well as social dialogue as roads to sustainable work and employment. Well-functioning social dialogue (including representation and negotiation) is a key tool in shaping sustainable working and employment conditions, involving workers, employers and governments at various policy levels. It balances the interests of workers and employers and contributes to both economic competitiveness and social cohesion. Special interest in conflict management, negotiation and mediation.

Sustainable work in education and R&D intensive companies

In this research line, SEEK builds on more than 20 years of expertise in occupational health and wellbeing, their impact on worker and organizational performance, as well as their individual, organizational and societal antecedents. While expertise has been gathered in both primary and secondary labor markets, much of our current research addresses sustainable work and employment in schools, universities and R&D intensive companies. Since 2017 the topic of mental health within academia has been a major focus. This is due to the worldwide impact of the article “Levecque et al. (2017). Work organization and Mental Health Problems in PhD students”, Research Policy, 46, 868-879 (see The study was covered in Nature and Science and can be downloaded here.

Within this second research line, Katia Levecque is co-promotor of three interdisciplinary research consortia that work in close collaboration with diverse stakeholders and aim at societal impact: Psync is dedicated to improving mental health of all citizens,  ReMo aims at improving the mental health within academia, and UGent@work focuses at work and the labor market. VOICES strives towards gender equality in academia.

Sustainable careers of doctoral candidates and doctorate holders

In this third research line, SEEK builds on the premise that knowledge economies’ investments in R&D, innovation and human capital are crucial for economic competitiveness. Within this research line, Katia Levecque is co-promotor of ECOOM. ECOOM is an interuniversity centre of expertise for the Flemish government that maps and monitors the R&D and innovation landscape. Within ECOOM, she coordinates the ECOOM UGent research that focuses on HR in Research. Its aim is to optimize the return on investment in doctoral research, for all stakeholders involved: individual researchers, universities, industry, government and the larger society. Within the ECOOM 2019-2023 covenant, special interest is directed to the career paths of doctorate holders within and beyond academia, the employability of doctorate holders in industry, as well as entrepreneurship of doctoral candidates and doctorate holders.