WHAT WE DO
A better future for academia and society
Activism for Social Change
Research and Teaching
Reading Clubs & Seminars
Critical Insights into WOP
What we study
Promoting equality in academia
At the Small Group Meeting in Breda, we have identified inequalities as a major concern of academic organizing. Ethnic minorities are underrepresented in our field and in academia in general. Our field is almost entirely white – it is enough to have a look around at the academic conferences we attend to gather evidence about this. Despite psychology and HR being traditionally feminine domains, and despite women being in large numbers present among our students, PhD students and as starting faculty members, higher up on the academic ladder, the gender ratio changes.
Despite constituting the majority in the field, women still struggle with discriminatory practices in their academic lives and careers. Women and ethnic minorities receive lower chances for promotion than their white & male counterparts, they receive less funding, publish less and proceed slower in their careers. Furthermore, early career academics are especially vulnerable given their especially precarious positions.
Sustainable careers & Health in academia
Today’s university is in crisis: as a result of the increasing work pressure; scarce jobs, precarious contracts and job insecurity; a dysfunctional tenure track system; a publication system that exploits and exhausts academics; competitive organizing and the pressure to acquire competitive funding; and the lack of close-knit communities and associations that protect the rights and needs of academics, academics reportedly struggle with mental and physical health problems. At the same time, there’s a widespread agreement among WOP scholars that we need to increase our societal and practical impact. However, if we want to be societally relevant as a field, if we want to advise organizations on working conditions that benefit both employees and organizations, we need to first examine ourselves and the ways we organize work.
If we are to advice practitioners about positive organizational practices, we need to become practitioners within our own organizations and implement our expertise to safeguard the well-being of academic employees. Achieving positive change is always the most feasible on the local level. If we strive for practical and societal relevance, we need to first improve the workplaces we inhibit: the universities. The goal is to use our collective intelligence and expertise in envisaging a university that provides its employees with stability, security, and a psychologically safe and supportive environment where health abounds and creative thinking and research can flourish.
Critical Work & Organizational Psychology
Given that WOP as a discipline studies the human psyche and behavior within the social context of the workplace, WOP is part of social sciences. But while other social sciences, such as sociology or political science, are built on critical foundations, the critical tradition is nearly entirely missing from most work psychology research conducted today. Even though academics generally agree that the goal of universities is to train students for reflective and critical thinking, we, as WOP psychologists, often do not aim for the same objectives in our research.
We believe that it is our responsibility as work psychologists to be critical of workplace affairs. Differences in power and resources define employees’ organizational experiences and trajectories, and workplace inequalities manifest in organizational structures and are reproduced by organizational practices. Individuals’ psychological experiences and behaviours are integral parts of these systemic processes. In our research, we must critically reflect on the individual’s role within these systemic processes and the effects of these processes on the individual. As WOP researchers, we have responsibility to respond to societal problems and normative concerns in the workplace, and to be able to do this, we need to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue with societal stakeholders, such as non-governmental organizations, policymakers, trade unions etc.
Complex questions require complex methodologies and often lead to the development and refinement of cutting-edge methodologies, leading in turn to new and valuable substantive insight. In an analysis of current research practices in the field of education and psychology, Marsh and Hau (2007) noted an increasing level of disconnection between theoretical developments and new methodological developments. This led them to underline the need for substantive-methodological synergies to reconnect what we are looking to study with how we do this. Substantive-methodological synergies occur when studies are examining substantively and practically interesting and relevant issues, using state-of-the art methodological and statistical tools.
In WOP this means we need to (re)assess our methodologies in terms of which ones show potential for answering the relevant and urgent research questions in our field. One such development that shows potential is the person-centred approach, the exploration of typologies, grouping individuals into unique and distinct profiles (or clusters, or configurations or classes) for which the relations with behavioural outcomes may differ (Magnusson, 1998). The variable-centred approach is the dominant approach in the analysis of data in WOP (regression-based models, SEM), nevertheless, the person-centred approach in forming profiles is emerging as a promising direction for future research (Meyer, Stanley, & Vandenberg, 2012).
What else do we do?
Critical Reading Club
What is: The critical reading club has run regularly since 2021 to promote discussions within the group following the reading of critical work. 3-4 times per year, we meet online for 1.5 hours to discuss a paper that is critical in its essence, including those that self-identify as critical and also papers that address a topic critically. When possible, our meetings have the special participation of the author(s) who join the discussion.
What to expect: The discussion is stimulating and engaging; the climate is accepting, open and inclusive. Everyone is welcome, including students, researchers and practitioners in w/o psychology and neighbouring fields. In our past experiences, we have realized that the reading club meetings are not only occasions for a professional engagement with critical perspectives but also meaningful occasions for the participants to “feel and touch” research against the constant push of academia and workplace life.
Readings and more: Although two volunteers organize the meetings, the reading club is a bottom-up activity. We select papers to showcase the work of critical researchers and others in view of the potential benefits of their contributions to the group. This is why we are very happy to welcome suggestions for readings – papers and books. Feel free to send and discuss your work with us. This is also a way to increase audience for your contributions.
Writing: The reading club is followed by a “follow-up” meeting one week after the meeting. In the follow-up meeting we aim to write an entry for the CWOP blog, and consider other research activities or publications (e.g., commentaries, book reviews).
How to take part: We share details of the meeting and the reading one month in advance, at least. Read our newsletters, stay tuned to the email list or follow us on LinkedIn for more information about the upcoming meetings.
For information or proposing readings, feel free to write to
- Francesco Tommasi: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Johanna Lisa Degen: email@example.com
- Franziska J. Kößler: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay critical and keep reading!