Project

The Future of Work and Organizational Psychology

Goal: Now is the time to think about the future of Work and Organizational Psychology (WOP). Many scholars have ideals, thoughts, frustrations, ideas, wishes, and feelings about how the field should develop, change, or pursue another path. It is important to bring together our voices, give the opportunity to have them heard, and jointly work on shaping the future of WOP. This project will collect many ideas (amongst others as expressed during the last EAWOP conference in Dublin) about how we could change, and also forms a platform to connect and actively shape that future.
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Project log

P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
Orientation: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a ‘coronafication’ of research and academia, including the instrumentalisation of academic research towards the demands of society and governments. Whilst an enormous number of special issues and articles are devoted on the topic, there are few fundamental reflections on how the current pandemic will affect science and work and organisational psychology in the long run. Research purpose: The current overview, written by a group of members of the Future of Work and Organisational Psychology (FOWOP) Movement, focuses on the central issues relating to work and organisational psychology that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Motivation for the study: The study discusses the inability of dominant theories in work and organisational psychology to understand contemporary problems and the need to advance the theoretical realm of work psychology. We also discuss the need for pluralism in methodologies to understand the post-COVID-19 workplace, the urgency of attending to neglected voices and populations during the COVID-19 crisis and teaching during COVID-19. Research approach/design and method: This article uses conceptual argumentation. Main findings: The COVID-19 crisis forces work psychology to address at least its theorising, methods, unheard voices and teaching in the COVID-19 crisis. Practical/managerial implications: On the basis of this article, researchers and practitioners may be better aware of the neglected perspectives in the current pandemic. Contribution/value-add: This article adds to the understanding of the future directions for a sustainable Work and Organisational Psychology as an applied scientific discipline during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
This paper introduces the concept of fictional science to the field of work and organizational psychology. It describes the necessity of such introduction, and the intended benefits for the field of work psychology. Work psychology is a scientific discipline dominated by a positivistic paradigm, which stifles the possibilities of abductive reasoning in the field, and thus the envisioning of possible future workplaces. Fictional science as the imagined, made up scientific thinking and argumentation holds the possibilities for such imagination. Fictional science, therefore, offers work psychologists the means to postulate possible futures for workplaces, and thus the potential to bring about positive change to workplaces. I will also explain the importance of form, and the role of the literary in fictional science. The paper will finish with a fictional example of the University of Harderwijk, showing the potential of fictional science for the study and imagination of future workplaces.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
What is the response of work psychologists to the current Covid-19 crisis? What do work psychologists have to offer in these times of uncertainty? The Future of Work and Organizational Psychology (FoWOP) Movement calls for academics worldwide to contribute to sustainable solutions for workplaces, the economy, and individuals. The current crisis offers possibilities in the midst of all horror unfolding - a chance for change - a chance to reorganize the workplace and the economy in a fundamentally different way, that protects the dignity of each individual human being and the planet. this piece is a brief call for contributions. Please do get in touch with us!
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
For anyone interested in becoming a more critical researcher, or conducting research from a more critical perspective, we have now made a Checklist for Critical Work and Organizational Psychology. In this checklist you will find some background as well as many questions that stimulate thinking about critical issues in our work.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
It was not long ago that technology and robotization were not of any interest to work psychologists or organizational scholars. The impact of technology on people and organizations was not something worth researching, and there were more pressing issues, such as the aging workforce, engagement, or work-life balance. However, this has changed dramatically during the last years. In this paper, I discuss four main fantasies that are present in our discourses around technology and work, and debunk these myths.
Hans van Dijk
added 3 research items
To improve the way in which research is currently conducted and communicated, Hartgerink and van Zelst (2018) have recently suggested a new research communication infrastructure. In their vision, research output is communicated continuously “as-you-go” as opposed to the current system where research is only communicated after the entire cycle has been completed (i.e., “after-the-fact”). This “as-you-go” system offers a host of advantages, including more transparency and a more rapid dissemination of research output. To examine the viability of their system, I aim to build a functioning implementation of their proposed infrastructure to investigate the research question “Does power corrupt?”Specifically, in this application I propose the Many Paths model, which starts with one research question and allows an emergent process to occur thereafter. Given that results are often path dependent and many paths can be taken in a research process, it is worthwhile to study which what paths a research project initiated, pruned, and merged. The Many Paths model offers insight into how researchers from different disciplines approach and study the same research question in a different way, and how that may relate to different conclusions being reached. As such, the project offers insight into the value of the “as-you-go” form of research communication. Furthermore, by inviting researchers from various disciplines to collaboratively address the question “Does power corrupt?” the Many Paths project offers a collaborative and integrated approach to that age-old question. The funding will be used primarily to set up the communication infrastructure that will allow the emergent collaborative project in the form of Many Paths to happen. Here, researchers communicate each step of the research process directly after it occurred, thereby linking each step to a previous one. This structure allows for the paths of the research process to be investigated. Moreover, the “as-you-go”-communication infrastructure allows collaborators to prune their own research progress into different areas, as they observe and get inspired by the other collaborators. The remainder of the funding will be used for a data scientist to analyze the paths via which researchers communicate on the Many Paths project, to support data collection (if needed) and for organizing meetings on the project.
Summary of our session on mental wellbeing in academia at the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology session in Turin on 29 May 2019 before the EAWOP conference.
Tim Vantilborgh
added an update
This blogpost was written following the EAWOP 2019 meeting:
“Oh god no… not another moderated mediation model”
During several conferences the past years, I heard people silently uttering these words as they listened to a presentation. Even though I presented papers at conferences in which I used moderated mediation models myself, I could understand the sentiment. Many presentations at conferences resemble each other, because they use similar methods, designs, and analytical approaches. Not surprisingly, some conference attendants—including myself—started to grow bored of research that seemed to have reached a stalemate.
Do we all use the same methods in Work and Organizational Psychology? Of course, there is variety—for one, we do not all use moderated mediation models. But that being said, there is some evidence suggesting that there is considerable methodological isomorphism in our field. For example, Casper and colleagues (2007) reviewed the work-family literature and documented the variety in research methods used. They showed that 89% of all studies used cross-sectional designs, 97% were field studies, and 89% were correlational studies. Longitudinal designs, experiments, and qualitative approaches were substantially underrepresented in the work-family literature. This situation is not limited to the work-family literature of course; it is likely that these problems emerge in other domains in Work and Organizational Psychology as well.
There are several reasons that could explain the existence of methodological isomorphism in our field. First, we tend to train PhD students in a limited set of research methods and analytical techniques. Most of the time, these methods and techniques are chosen because they are commonly used in the field, thus perpetuating the problem. Second, researchers may believe that using certain method may improve their chances of getting published. Third, reviewers acting as gatekeepers can be more critical of methods or techniques that they are not familiar with. As a result, manuscripts using non-traditional methods may have more difficulties getting published.
One might wonder if methodological isomorphism is problematic. After all, this may just reflect a field converging to set of methods that have proven their worth, with inferior methods no longer being used. Call it methodological evolution if you will. However, the methods and techniques that are commonly used are not necessarily optimal (e.g., cross-sectional designs are in many cases suboptimal). Moreover, methodological isomorphism may carry certain dangers. For one, it may lead to researchers choosing a research question that fits a certain method or technique, rather than picking the method which they believe is most appropriate for their research question. Moreover, by relying on a limited set of methods and analytical techniques, we may never fully come to understand workplace phenomena.
We discussed this issue of methodological isomorphism during the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology day at the 2019 EAWOP conference in Turin, Italy (http://eawop2019.org). The Future of Work and Organizational Psychology movement strives to build a better future for our field (https://www.futureofwop.com; see https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1359432X.2019.1602041?needAccess=truefor a manifesto on the future of WOP). We believe that our field can improve in several areas, including our research, our teaching, and the way that we organize academia. One of the workshops that we organized during the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology day focused on methods and aimed to tackle the issue of methodological isomorphism. We departed from the idea that we should use diverse methods and analyses to explore research questions if we want Work and Organizational Psychology to be a robust science (Grand et al., 2018).
Participants of the workshop took part in two exercises to come up with possible solutions to tackle the issue of methodological isomorphism. The result of this brainstorming exercise was a list of 9 actions (slides of workshop: https://mfr.osf.io/render?url=https%3A%2F%2Fosf.io%2Fnwte6%2Fdownload):
  1. Use existing platforms to stimulate collaboration and trust
  2. Tackle your next research question with a group of people and multiple methods
  3. Think more thoroughly about research designs and consider applying multiple approaches
  4. Encourage mixed-methods research by creating a mixed-methods journal
  5. Involve statisticians/methodologists as full partners in research projects
  6. Train students in qualitative research methods and in assessing good qualitative research
  7. Create an online platform to get feedback on study designs from the broad scientific community and to find potential collaborators
  8. Create a community of methods experts, similar to researchgate
  9. Start ManyLab type collaborations with multiple registered report studies that tackle a single research question using various methods
What was striking to me during this workshop, was that participants acknowledged that we need more collaborations to tackle the issue of methodological isomorphism. In particular, substantive-methodological synergies should be established, meaning that substantive experts should ideally collaborate with methodological experts. However, we often lack the resources to start such collaborations. For example, we might not know who has expertise with a certain analytical approach or it may be necessary to develop trust before one can approach potential collaborators. In addition, it was clear that participants acknowledged that we should think more carefully about our research designs. Open science practices may help here: by submitting research as registered reports to journals, researchers get valuable feedback on their methods before data is collected. The list of journals that accept registered reports is growing, although the number of Work and Organizational Psychology journals on the list still remains fairly limited (https://cos.io/rr/?_ga=2.186479529.1010265114.1560517034-1672383392.1529487334).
The Future of Work and Organizational Psychology initiative will try to use the actions that came out of this workshop as input to take further steps. In particular, we aim to take actions to stimulate substantive-methodological synergy in our field. This could be done by organizing workshops or summer schools in which researchers can be introduced to a broad variety of methods and that would allow substantive and methodological experts to meet each other. In addition, specific workshops could be set up in which we introduce researchers to registered reports and in which we stimulate collaborative registered reports. These collaborative registered reports consist of three stages. In the first stage, a research question is submitted to a platform and researchers can opt in to tackle this research question jointly. Next, a registered report application is written and submitted to a journal. These applications could include multiple approaches (e.g., qualitative approach, experimental approach, experience sampling approach) to address the same research question. Finally, data is collected following in-principle acceptance.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
Today, we face a burnout crisis in universities. More than half of UK academics experience high or very high levels of work related stress. Early career academics are at least 6 times more likely to develop mental illness than people working outside academia. Universities and governments typically address these problems by using psychological interventions to make academics more resilient to stress. Prescribing CBT or meditation for stressed-out researchers suggests that the reason we cannot cope lies with us as individuals, and fails to address and treat the fundamental sources of the problem. The reason for the burnout epidemic in universities is not that overly sensitive people self-select for an academic career, but that work in academia is organised in ways that make us sick. Some of these factors are the obsession with performance metrics in universities, the perpetual competition among academics, the expectation of excellence in all areas, job insecurity and the rise of temporary and unstable contracts, the utilization of free academic labour by publishing houses, the pressure to publish in high impact journals, and the pressure to obtain external funding. Psychology is often seen as the ultimate tool to understand and 'fix' mental health problems: to improve individuals' coping strategies to enhance their resilience and adaptiveness, so that they can function better and become more productive in their work. However, helping individuals adapt to the system that caused their suffering in the first place is clearly a limited and sometimes misguided use of psychological knowledge. A more responsible approach to psychology would provide both a systemic analysis of the causes of individual suffering, support for individuals in responding to it, and the empowerment of individuals as change-makers. Within a flawed system, individuals have agency that extends beyond their ability merely to cope and function at work. We can take action aimed at changing the rules of the system that makes academics collectively miserable. For this, we need a collective form of agency. As academia is ultimately constituted of us academics, we must recognize our own responsibility in perpetuating the competitive logic of the academic system. Instead of competing, we should envision and try to create an academic system in which we want to work. We, a group of work and organisational psychologists, have written a manifesto that describes how this might happen. In this manifesto, we offer ten recommendations for a sustainable future for universities, in which academics can both thrive and conduct meaningful work that delivers on academia's social responsibilities. We call on academics to do research that is truly independent from corporate agendas, prioritize societal interests instead, and engage in continuous dialogue with other stakeholders to identify and research the most relevant issues. We want to collectively stop aspiring to be the mythical ideal academic who delivers excellence in every aspect of their job (and often pays with their health for pursuing this fantasy). Instead, we need to co-construct healthier objectives and standards, working in ways that are more collaborative, caring and relational, and much less individualistic, competitive and self-exploitative in nature. We invite academics to break the silence in universities and engage in dialogue with colleagues about discrimination, bullying, and
Private Profile
added a research item
The idea of meritocracy, according to which every individual has a fair chance to succeed and rise to power, is central to the neoliberal university. At the core of it rests the assumption that we are all players on a level playing field. But the moment one looks at figures, meritocracy gets exposed for what it is: a myth, as numbers show that women and minorities are systematically underrepresented in universities when it comes to positions of power. Inequality comes in many forms and shapes, but due to time constraints, in the session of ‘Promoting equality in academia’ at the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology (FoWOP) day we zoomed in on ethnicity and gender. In this session, we challenged the idea of meritocracy, shared our own experiences of inequalities in academia, listed what we would need to tackle inequalities in our working lives and around us, and translated those needs into action points.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
In this short reflection piece, I summarize the main inspirations, outcomes and impressions of the Future of WOP Day held preceding the EAWOP Conference, taking place on 29 May 2019 in Torino, Italy. During this day around 70 people got together to talk about the future of our field, including the need for better methods, more critical research, more equality in academia, and a healthier system for us all.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
This manifesto presents 10 recommendations for a sustainable future for the field of Work and Organizational Psychology. The manifesto is the result of an emerging movement around the Future of WOP (see www. futureofwop.com), which aims to bring together WOP-scholars committed to actively contribute to building a better future for our field. Our recommendations are intended to support both individuals and collectives to become actively engaged in co-creating the future of WOP together with us. Therefore, this manifesto is open and never “finished.” It should continuously evolve, based on an ongoing debate around our professional values and behavior. This manifesto is meant, first of all, for ourselves as an academic community. Furthermore, it is also important for managers, decision makers, and other stakeholders and interested parties, such as students, governments and organizations, as we envision what the future of WOP could look like, and it is only through our collective efforts that we will be able to realize a sustainable future for all of us.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
In this short piece I make the observation that the field of Work and Organizational Psychology (and/or OB) is primarily white and dominated by white people. As a white WOP-scholar myself, I ask myself three questions: why is WOP so white?, what are the effects of WOP being so white?, and what can we do to enhance diversity in WOP? I explore the questions in a bit of detail, but this is also an open invitation to anyone to come up with suggestions, ideas, research, references, comments and so on. This may also serve as input for further discussion at the EAWOP 2019 Conference in Turin, and the Future of WOP-day preceding the conference.
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
In this piece, I make the argument that we should stop measuring performance and well-being in Organizational Behavior, Work and Organizational Psychology and HRM. I bring forward various arguments why so, and in particular explain why well-being is not a valid substitute for performance. I would like to thank Edina Doci for her comments on an earlier draft of the piece.
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
The Future of WOP website has been updated, and includes all information about the Future of WOP Day at EAWOP 2019 (29 May, 2019, Turin).
See http://www.futureofwop.com for more information. We hope to see you in Turin!
 
Edina Doci
added an update
In this EJWOP themed collection of papers, scholars of the field discuss the role of ideology in Work and Organizational Psychology: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/pewo20/27/5?nav=tocList
The target article that generated the debate was a critical analysis P. Matthijs Bal and I had written about our field. By using a prominent framework from the field of political theory, in this paper we discussed how neoliberal ideology manifests at the workplace and in WOP research. Prominent scholars were invited to respond to this piece, and we had the chance to write a rejoinder to the commentaries. You can download our pieces below, and read the entire debate on the EJWOP website.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
On Wednesday 29 May 2019 (9am-4pm) we organize a Future of WOP Day preceding the EAWOP Conference. Anyone who registers for the EAWOP conference is also invited to attend the Future of WOP day, where we will continue the great tradition of earlier meetings such as the SGM in Breda, 2018, of collaborative working and interactive discussion with a future-focused mindset.
Registration via the EAWOP 2019 website (registration will be free or a minimal charge for refeshments and lunch). Check our website for more information: www.futureofwop.com.
In the attachment you can read more about the day. Any questions, feel free to contact us (mbal@lincoln.ac.uk).
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See attached a short narrative impression of the Small Group Meeting on the Future of WOP, which attracted 50 scholars from across Europe, and Iran, China, and Canada. It was a very special event, which cannot be readily summarised in a technical report, and therefore overcoming this, a narrative way of capturing the spirit of the conference may be a better reflection of it.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See attached the powerful statement that Andy Brookes made during the SGM on Future of WOP in Breda on 17 May 2018. The essential question that academics need to ask themselves is how they can be agents of their own well-being.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See attached the program, abstract book, slides from the keynote speech of Prof. Yiannis Gabriel, and a call for papers for a special issue for EJWOP on impactful research.
We look back on a very special meeting that was like no other.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See www.futureofwop.com for the latest information about the conference on the Future of Work and Organizational Psychology taking place 16-18 May, 2018 in Breda, the Netherlands. After the conference, the website will be maintained as platform for subsequent events, initiatives and discussion.
 
Luc Dorenbosch
added an update
...Why should I be concerned with what is being published about outcome Y in a scientific I-O or management journal?
A very interesting read on what is going on in organizational practice (e.g. Big Data, HR Analytics) and how this reflects on the future of WOP. Is the future of WOP still in the hands of academia?
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added a research item
This paper explores the role of neoliberal ideology in workplace practices and in work and organizational psychology (WOP) research. It analyses how neoliberal ideology manifests in these two domains by using a prominent framework from the field of political theory to understand ideology through three different logics: political, social and fantasmatic logics. We explore the main neoliberal assumptions underlying existing practices in the workplace as well as in WOP research, how individuals are gripped by such practices, and how the status quo is maintained. The paper analyses how individuals in the contemporary workplace are henceforth influenced by neoliberalism, and how this is reflected in the practices and dominant paradigms within WOP. In particular, we focus on three ways neoliberalism affects workplaces and individual experiences of the workplace: through instrumentality, individualism and competition. The paper finishes with practical recommendations for researchers and practitioners alike on how to devote more attention to the, often implicit, role of neoliberal ideology in their work and research. The discussion elaborates on how alternative paradigms in the workplace can be developed which address the downsides of neoliberalism.
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See https://www.futureofwop.com/ for all necessary information about the meeting on the Future of WOP, 16-18 May 2018 in Breda, the Netherlands.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See attached a 2page document - with some additional guidelines for anyone contemplating participating in and contributing to the SGM next year in Breda, 16-18 May. We outline the overarching goals that we want to achieve with the SGM (and all activities related to the theme), and how we envision them to reach these goals, and how you could shape your abstract, thoughts and ideas to make it a truly inspiring and positive meeting. We hope this can further elicit debate towards a positive future.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
See attached the call for submissions for the Small Group Meeting on the Future of WOP, to be held 16-18 May 2018 in Breda, the Netherlands.
Feel free to send around. In case of any question, do not hesitate to get in contact with the organisers.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
16-18 May 2018 we are organizing a small group meeting on the Future of WOP in Breda, the Netherlands. It is partially funded by EAWOP. See attached for proposal on which the funding is based. Most information is in the document. Two keynote speakers are already confirmed: Yiannis Gabriel and Anne Keegan. It will be a very interactive meeting and different from the usual conference. The primary aim of the meeting is to discuss and develop new ideas for the future of the field.
Any input is welcome - email Matthijs Bal at mbal@lincoln.ac.uk. We are open to any suggestion for discussion, presentation, format to have in-depth discussion of this very important topic. Fees will be limited (100 euro regular fee, 50 euro PhD students).
 
Nicky Dries
added a research item
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
This short piece serves as a reply to 'The irrelevance of WOP' and an attempt to formulate a positive vision for the future of WOP.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
In this short opinion piece, I reflect on why WOP research is irrelevant, and may even be dangerous in complying to existing norms in society about how workers should behave. The views expressed in this piece are solely my own, and I solely carry any responsibility for what is expressed here. In order to elicit positive, constructive change, we need to be able to have an open mind, and acknowledge our own weaknesses. Any comment (personal or publicly) welcome.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
Claudia Bernhard-Oettel reflects on the panel debate she hosted at EAWOP on the links between research and practice, and things that need to be and can be done to strengthen the relevance of WOP.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added 3 project references
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
What is the Future of WOP all about? See the attachment for some first thoughts on it. Only 2 pages. Feel free to comment.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
Leaders versus followers
Edina Doci and Tim Vantilborgh presented on WOP's representation of leadership research and in particular how followership is constructed. See the attachment of a reflection of their presentation at EAWOP conference, 2017, Dublin (written by them).
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added an update
Yvonne Van Rossenberg presented at EAWOP 2017 in Dublin about methods being used in WOP. See below a reflection of her presentation and following discussion by her.
 
P. Matthijs Bal
added a project goal
Now is the time to think about the future of Work and Organizational Psychology (WOP). Many scholars have ideals, thoughts, frustrations, ideas, wishes, and feelings about how the field should develop, change, or pursue another path. It is important to bring together our voices, give the opportunity to have them heard, and jointly work on shaping the future of WOP. This project will collect many ideas (amongst others as expressed during the last EAWOP conference in Dublin) about how we could change, and also forms a platform to connect and actively shape that future.
MB