Webster Vienna Private University is delivering new opportunities through globally significant research and innovation excellence based on its Strategic Plan. We are committed to high-quality academic research combining theory and practice, an international perspective, as well as a strong integration of teaching and research.
Webster Vienna Private University is delivering new opportunities through globally significant research and innovation excellence based on its Strategic Plan. We are committed to high-quality academic research combining theory and practice, an international perspective, as well as a strong integration of teaching and research.

Research at Webster Vienna

Leading the Fight against Workplace Bullying

Dr. Eva Zedlacher, Assistant Professor of Management, works on two grants from the Lower Austria Chamber of Labor (AK NÖ) to address “third-party action” in preventing workplace bullying. She sat down with our team to discuss her work.


Figure 1“An allem Unfug, der passiert, sind nicht etwa nur die schuld, die ihn tun, sondern auch die, die ihn nicht verhindern”  E. Kaestner (All the nonsense that happens is not only the fault of those who do it, but also of those who do not prevent it).


Dr. Zedlacher’s research in third-party awareness and intervention, so called “third-party action”, could be effective at fighting workplace bullying at its core. She has found that in order to make a difference, third parties must first be aware of the dynamics of workplace bullying and their own responsibility to stop it.

Workplace bullying is often subtle and not easy to identify for third parties, but even when bullying escalates and becomes more visible, it has been found that peers and organizations often do nothing about it, or even blame the target’s personality or behavior for what has happened. This lack of support often leads to further escalation and detrimental health consequences. The “failure to intervene” is not just a moral issue; organizations in Austria also have the legal “duty of care” (“Fürsorgepflicht”) to provide a harassment-free workplace.

WVPU: Dr. Zedlacher, you have now received two grants from the Lower Austria Chamber of Labor for two separate projects. Can you tell us a bit more about them?

Dr. Zedlacher: For the first, smaller project supported by the Chamber of Labor (AK NÖ) , I was particularly interested in whether prior work performance ratings (e.g. high or low) of the targets affected the helping intentions of the third parties, and whether/how third parties attribute blame to a single (f)actor; or whether they engage in so-called “multiblaming.” We know from previous research that HR professionals in particular often consider bullying complaints as stemming from negative performance feedback. In turn, these complaints are often trivialized and the targets are blamed for what happened to them (“victim blaming”). The problem with that is that ignorance or trivialization of a complaint may escalate the problem, as targets may feel even more bullied due to the lack of support.

Allison Snowden, a recent MBA graduate, was an integral part of my work in determining the effect of performance ratings and blame patterns on the perception of bullying. She used much of our research in her own thesis, which I am happy to report she successfully defended this past year. We have presented preliminary results at various conferences. We can show that people often engage in blaming different (f)actors for a negative and complex event, and that victim blaming is still very prevalent among third parties. One of the implications of our findings for organizational practice is that any training should make people reflect and question their (immediate) blaming tendencies. Rather than individualizing the problem, practitioners as experts should also point to structural causes and measures that might be a cause or a solution to the problem.

The second, larger project with the AK NÖ is ongoing. Here the focus lies more on intervention by direct bystanders in workplace bullying incidents, including electronic media. We will conduct video experiments with fictional scenarios to investigate how direct bystanders respond to different forms of misconduct at work, in particular when the interaction takes place via emails on smartphones. The final goal of this project is to produce an interactive video training tool for workforce members and trainers to become more aware of the (negative) effects of new forms of interactions, including ways to intervene effectively. I am working with two great film producers who support me with casting of actors/actresses and the plot for the final movie. They will also program the final interactive training.

Anastasiia Hizenko, an excellent undergraduate Management student, has been assisting in this project. She has been with me since last year her support in literature research, administration and pre-testing is invaluable. Reza Noori Khoondabi, a graduate Psychology student, recently joined our team in January. He will be an additional help for implementing the experiments into the final survey and will also assist with preliminary data analysis. I am very happy to have both of these great students in my project.

I am very thankful that Webster Vienna supports faculty research through scholarships for research assistants! I believe it’s also important to recognize the effort and dedication of AK NÖ of not only supporting work force services, but also for investing into employment relationships. Without their grant funding, such research designs with video experiments would not be possible.

WVPU: Your research touches on cyberbullying as a new theme in workplace harassment. In the digital age and with more work conducted online, it is easy to see how this can become problematic. What are some of the qualities of cyberbullying that make it different from other types of workplace bullying?

Dr. Zedlacher: Cyberbullying in particular can be detrimental because victims can be haunted by attacks. For instance, a single harassing message on Instagram is posted only once, but can be shared with a diverse mass and read repeatedly. Less dramatic and very, generally speaking, the digitalization of our work interactions may provide grounds for misbehavior and misunderstandings, which might require some ethics guidelines. Imagine you receive a late-night email from your boss on your work smartphone with some new urgent tasks. Some might feel harassed and wonder, “Why can’t s/he wait till the next day with the new tasks”; some might simply ignore the late mail anyway.

WVPU: This is fascinating work and obviously can be applied to real-world scenarios. Where could one learn more about your work before you finish these two projects?

Dr. Zedlacher: My latest book chapter in the “Handbook of Research on Cyberbullying and Online Harassment in the Workplace” is a good place to start. There my co-author Martina Hartner-Tiefenthaler from TU Wien and I discuss more about whether the digitalization of work is dangerous for ethical climates at work and how to prevent cyberbullying in the digital workspace.

Civility Values and Cyberbullying Prevention in the Digital Workspace: How to Foster an Ethical Climate of Respect

Eva Zedlacher (Webster Vienna Private University, Austria) and Martina Hartner-Tiefenthaler (Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
Handbook of Research on Cyberbullying and Online Harassment in the Workplace

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4912-4.ch027

Faculty - Business and Management

Dr. Nikolaos Antonakakis
Head of Department and Associate Professor and Area Coordinator for Economics

Dr. Pernille Eskerod
Full Professor and Area Coordinator for Management and Organizational Behavior

Dr. Maria Madlberger
Full Professor and Area Coordinator for Marketing

Dr. Menbere Workie Tiruneh
Associate Professor
Finance and Economics

Dr. Ronald Hochreiter
Associate Professor

Dr. Maria-Teresa Punzi
Assistant Professor

Dr. Eva Zedlacher
Assistant Professor

Mr. Adam Louis Troldahl, MA
Department Coordinator

Ms. Dorothy Kishbaugh, LMSW
Department Coordinator

Active in 2020-2021

Dr. Florin Abazi
Computer Science

Dr. Mehdi Ali

Dr. Maximilian Benner, M.Sc.

Mr. Alfred Dolecek, MSc.
Accounting and Marketing

Univ.-Doz. Dr. Claus Ebster
Marketing & Management

Mag. Alexandra Federer, MBA

Mr. Massimiliano Falcinelli, MS
Computer Science

Dr. Paul Fischer, LLM
Business Law

Dr. Andrea Gaal

Dr. Hossein Hassani

Ms. Casandra Hutchinson, MSc
Math & Statistics

Prof. Mag. Dr. Dr. Petra Inwinkl

Mr. Michael Kapfer, MBA
Marketing & Public Relations

Dr. Christian Kreuzer

Dr. Christopher Kronenberg
Management & Entrepreneurship

Mr. Charles La Fond, MBA

Dr. Xavier Matteucci

Mr. Alan Noble, MA

Dr. Heinz Palasser, MBA, MSc

Mag. Svetla Pehlivanova-Porenta

Dr. Hanno Poeschl, MSc, MBA
Finance & Management

Dr. Rudolf Rössel, MBA
Computer Science

Dr. Roman G. Seligo
Sales Management

Mr. Robert Senz

Dr. A. Nicholas Simon
Business Law

Dr. Christian Steineder

Mr. Miguel Suarez Vasquez, PhD, MSc, MBA
Business & Accounting

Dr. Owat Sunanta
Math & Statistics

Mr. William Tippin, DM, CMC
Management [Fall 2020 Visiting Sverdrup Fellow]

Mr. Emil Tsenov, MA

Dipl.Kfm. Norbert Wetzel, MBA
Finance & Human Resources Management

Mag. Christian Wozabal, MBA


Anatoly Reshetnikov, Assistant Professor at WVPU’s International Relations Department, has contributed an article to a yearly forum that facilitates scholarly exchange between Russian and Western research institutions and is published by a SAGE journal New Perspectives. Every year, the journal invites several leading academics from outside Russia to respond to the yearly forecast “Russia and the World” prepared by a collective of authors from the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO).

This year’s pool of contributors to the forum include Richard Sakwa (University of Kent), Ruth Deyermond (King’s College London), Elizaveta Gaufman (University of Groningen), and other notable scholars. In his contribution titled “A country for old men: The pitfalls of conservative political analysis during crises”, Reshetnikov is pondering on several surprising parallels and contrasts between IMEMO’s forecast within the context of the current global crisis and W.B Yeats’ poetry within the context of its time.

To read the full issue of the journal, please, click here.

Faculty - International Relations

Faculty and Staff

Active in 2020 - 2021

Aner Barzilay, PhD
Topics in Modern European History

Dr. Elina Brutschin
Methods of Political Inquiry
Advanced Research Methods

Dr. J. Werner Druml
International Affair

Univ.-Ass. Mag. Dr. Marcel Fink
Comparative Politics

Dr. Eric Frey
International Political Economy

Mag. Gerlad Garber
Introduction to Political Argumentation and Debate

Dr. Sandra Goldstein
Middle East Area Studies

MMag. Dr. iur. Ralph Janik, LL.M.
International Law

Dr. Monika Mokre
Politics of Development
Refugee and Migration Movements

Prof. Iver B. Neumann, PhD
War and Diplomacy

Mag. Dr Dieter Reinisch MRes
The Age of Total War: Europe 1890-1945
Contemporary Europe: 1945-Present

Dr. Astrid Reisinger Coracini
International Law

Dr. Wiggins' monograph, The Discursive Power of Memes in Digital Culture, published by Routledge in March 2019, has been re-issued in paperback and e-book form as of September 2020. In a humorous series of events, Dr. Wiggins only became aware of this good news as of mid-January 2021.
Additionally, his article entitled #CivilWar2: Instagram Posts During COVID-19 has been accepted for publication by the competitive journal Social Semiotics(impact factor approx. 1.2). Once the final editorial processes are over, a link to the full article will be provided. 
The abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic uniquely represents an unprecedented health crisis that has permeated all aspects of human society. Given the technological affordances of social media to disseminate fact-based as well as purposefully misinformed and/or conspiratorial information, this paper examines the serious and strategic messaging on Instagram posts tagged with #civilwar2. Results from a critical discourse analysis show that within modern American conspiratorial thinking and given the problematic politicization of COVID-19, healthy skepticism is replaced with conspiracy absent of theory. When extreme political and socio-cultural polarization occurs, this tendency is exacerbated by the bifurcation of meaning as expressed by those who seek to promote a particular angle of a given story or event. While this may be somewhat common in so-called old media, online in discursive spaces such as Instagram, the challenge to understand the mediated message is compounded by visual referents which are often remixed to include adjunct information, such as mashups, hashtags, inserted text, or images, etc. Results include the identification of two main categories of Instagram memes tagged with #civilwar2. These categories are analyzed following three primary characteristics of discourse: genre, discourse/representation, and style.

Faculty - Media Communications

Bradley E. Wiggins, Ph.D
Associate Professor and Head of Department

Meng Chen, Ph.D
Assistant Professor

Anthony Löwstedt, Ph.D
Assistant Professor

Mag. Daniela Machian
Department Coordinator

Phil Moran, PhD
Media Production

Rafal Morusiewicz, PhD
Film studies

Seth Weiner, BFA, M.Arch
Digital production tools

The Relaxing Effect of Binaural Beats


Brainwave entrainment (BWE) studies have measured the effectiveness of manipulating brainwave frequencies as an alternative to medicinal therapy. Binaural beats (BB) are created by producing two sounds of different frequencies delivered individually to each ear; this is used to entrain, through monotonous, repetitive, pulse-like qualities. This study used a within-subject’-s, double-blind design to compare the effectiveness of binaural beats of the alpha frequency (10Hz) on reducing stress compared to other acoustic stimuli.

A total of four conditions followed a short audio-visual presentation to induce stress/arousal: A music condition (ambient rain), a sound condition (one sound at a constant frequency, 400Hz), a binaural beats condition (10Hz binaural beat), and a music plus BB condition (10Hz binaural beats integrated with rain). Arousal level was measured using biofeedback measures of skin conductance and heart rate.

It was hypothesized that following the short audio-visual stressor, the BB conditions (Binaural Beats & Music plus BB) would have decreased arousal and a lower level of arousal than the other two conditions. The results of this experiment partially supported the hypothesis. On average, all four experimental conditions resulted in increased relaxation through a decrease in the skin-conductance measures.

With regard to heart rate, except for binaural beats, participants experienced higher heart rates after being exposed to other stimuli. There was a significant difference between the effect of BB and the effect of music on relaxation. The effect of binaural beats on relaxation compared to the sound of rain also significantly differed between female and male participants.

Additionally, the results show that when binaural beats are combined with music (sound of rain) then their effect on the extent of relaxation is significantly different than merely binaural beats. Considering prior research and the results of this study, the benefits of brainwave entrainment cannot be overlooked. The ease at which these methods of induction can be created or developed, as well as administered, contributes to making BWE an accessible and cost effective alternative to medicinal therapy.

This research was conducted by Kamran Cooper as part of a MA thesis, supervised by Prof. Peter Walla.

Faculty - Psychology

Marc Mehu, PhD Associate

Professor / Interim Head of the Psychology Department



Ms. Chryssi Tsounta, MSc

Psychology Department Coordinator


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