New opportunities in
organizational psychology:
theories, topics, methods and
practice
Professor Catherine Cassell
Keynote presentation to 2011 AIP, Milan, October 15th
[email protected]
Plan
• Introduction
• Current issues facing work and
organizational psychology
• Work psychology: time for a review?
• Opportunities for the future
• Conclusions.
Current issues facing
occupational psychologists
• The changing nature of work
• The changing nature of organizations
• Professional identity
• Epistemological and methodological
developments
• Values
• The move towards evidence-based practice.
The changing
nature of work
The changing nature of work
• Rapidly changing technologies at work
• Increasingly globalised in nature (Gelfand
et.al., 2008)
• End of careers for life
• Aging population
• Increased significance of the service sector
• New societal priorities (e.g.
environmentalism).
An example: Work
organization and job design
Research into work
organization and climate
change
• Davis and Challenger (2009) use a socio-technical
systems perspective to look at green behaviours in
the work place
• Draw on established theories such as social identity
theory and goal setting to encourage attention to
the role of user control and empowerment in green
behaviours
• Argue that work psychologists are well-placed to
take the lead in this area by re-framing green
issues as a more traditional organizational problem.
The changing
nature of
work organizations
The changing nature of work
organizations
• Traditional forms of management and
organization are changing
• Fewer large centralised workplaces
• Distributed teams, groups and
leadership
• Where is culture located?
Example: the taxi driver study
• Changing expectations of customer service
• Increasing interest about customer abuse
and bullying in the workplace
• Research regarding emotional labour and
emotional regulation in the workplace (e.g.:
Niven, Totterdell and Holman, 2009)
• Interviews with 22+ black cab drivers.
Key issues
• Changing expectations of customer
service
• The skills of the cab driver in regulating
the emotions of others
• Stories of customer abuse as
commonplace
• Culture is multi-sited.
Professional
Identity
Concerns about the professional
identity of work psychologists
• Seen primarily as assessment experts (Kandola,
2010)
• WP is at a ‘tipping point’ in its professional identity,
“evolved away from psychology to a critical juncture
in terms of distinctiveness from other fields” (Ryan
and Ford, 2010)
• Lack of influence over public policy and lack of
visibility to organizational decision-makers.
• The futility of the academic / practitioner divide.
Epistemological
developments
Epistemological developments
• Work and organizational psychology
research can be conducted in a range of
epistemological traditions and a range of
novel approaches are available (Symon
and Cassell, 2006)
• Example: Action Research (Cassell and
Johnson, 2006).
Types of action research
(Cassell and Johnson, 2006)
• Experimental action research practices
• Inductive action research practices
• Participatory action research
• Participatory research practices
• Deconstructive action research practices.
Methodological
developments
Methodological developments
• Ten methodological barriers to progress
in work psychology (Edwards, 2008)
• All based on quantitative methods e.g.
Measurement error; conditions for
causality etc.
• Plea for methodological diversity and the
use of qualitative methods in work
psychology (Cassell and Symon, 2006).
The use of qualitative methods
in work psychology research
The research project
• Work with Gillian Symon
• Focus is upon how work psychologists
define good qualitative research
• Interviews with 22 work psychologists in
positions to define quality (international
journal editors; MSc Directors; Research
Institute Directors; Practitioners).
Identification of narratives
• Research question: How do work
psychologists explain quality in
qualitative research?
• Underlying narratives:
– Good qualitative research is fit for purpose
– Good qualitative research is hard to assess
– Good qualitative research needs to be
demonstrated
• Focus upon the link between those
narratives and sensemaking.
Challenges in adopting new
methods
• Capability in the discipline
• Links to professional identity
• Little understanding about assessment
processes.
Values
Lefkowitz (2008) criticises the fundamental values of
work psychology:
• Overly economic and insufficiently humanistic in
nature
• Present the field as being more value-free than it
really is
• Ignore normative perspectives of what
organizations ought to be like
• Reflect a pro-management orientation
• Define the field with respect to technical prowess
rather than societal good.
Evidence-based practice
• Case for evidence-based practice in work
and organizational psychology (e.g.:
Briner and Rousseau, 2011)
• Emphasis on the ‘best available
evidence’ including the use of systematic
reviews
• Concern that this ignores the ‘political
nature of evidence and encourages
methodological standardization (Cassell,
2011).
Work psychology: time for a
review?
• Debates within Industrial and organizational
psychology (APA Journal) for example
about the professional identity of work
psychology
• Special issue of Journal of Organizational
Behavior in 2008 entitled to prosper,
organizational psychology should .....
• Debate in the U.K. Magazine The
Psychologist entitled Occupational
Psychology in a changing world (2011).
New opportunities
• Current economic climate generates new
research questions and topics
• The changing nature of work and
organizations
• Interesting epistemological and
methodological developments.
Conclusions
• There are a number of challenges ahead
• If opportunities are taken then the future
is bright
• We live in interesting times!
References
•
Briner, R. and Rousseau, D. (2011) Evidence-based psychology: not there yet. Industrial
and organizational psychology: Perspectives on science and practice, 4, 3-22.
•
Cassell, C.M. (2011) Evidence-based I-O Psychology: what do we lose on the way?
Industrial and organizational psychology: Perspectives on science and practice, 4, 23-26.
•
Cassell, C.M. And Johnson, P. (2006) Action research: explaining the diversity. Human
Relations, 59 (6), 783-814.
•
Cassell, C.M. and Symon, G. (2006) ‘Qualitative research in industrial and organizational
psychology’, International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology , Vol. 24,
•
Cassell, C.M. and Symon, G. (2011) ‘Assessing ‘good’ qualitative research in the work
psychology field: A narrative analysis’, Journal of Occupational and Organizational
Psychology, (In press).
•
Davis, M.C. and Challenger , R. (2009) Climate change: warming to the task. The
Psychologist, 22 (2), 112-114.
•
Edwards, J.R. (2008). To prosper, organizational psychology should ... overcome
methodological barriers to progress. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 469-491.
•
Gelfand, M.J., Lexlie, L.M. And Fehr, R. (2008). To prosper, organizational psychology
should ... Adopt a global perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 493-517.
•
Greenberg, J. (2008). Introduction to the special issue: to prosper, organizational
psychology should ... Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 435-438.
•
Kandola, B. (2010) . Occupational Psychology in a changing world, The Psychologist,
volume 23.
•
Lefkowitz , J.(2008), To prosper, organizational psychology should … expand the values
of organizational psychology to match the quality of its ethics. Journal of Organizational
Behavior, 29, 439 – 453.
•
Niven, K., Totterdell, P., and Holman, D. (2009). Affect regulation and well-being in the
workplace: An interpersonal perspective. In A. Antoniou, G. Chrousos, C. Cooper, M.
Eysenck, & C. Spielberger (Eds),Handbook of Occupational Health Psychology and
Medicine. Elsevier.
•
Ryan, A.M. and Ford, K.J. (2010). Organizational Psychology and the tipping point of
professional identity. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: perspectives on science
and practice, 3: 277–280.
•
Symon, G. and Cassell, C.M. (2006) ‘Neglected perspectives in work and organizational
psychology’, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 79., No. 3.,
307-314.
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Industrial and Organizational Psychology