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The Future (and Past) of Work Psychology and Organizational Behaviour: A Personal View


  • Adrian Furnham

    () (University College London, Department of Psychology)


This paper offers a personal and perhaps "side-ways" view on the past and future of two closely related semi-disciplines: work psychology and organisational behaviour. The paper first addresses the terminological confusion in the area and discusses 10 terms often used inter-changably. It then considers whether work psychology has been, or can ever be, neutral or disinterested in the way it is researched and applied. Some time is spent on the issue of definitions at the heart of which is the idea that behaviour at work is shaped by behaviour out of the work place and vice versa. In this sense all behaviour is work behaviour. The central part of the paper offers six criticisms of past and present work psychology (Ethnocentric and parochial, a-theoretical, a-historical, neglecting salient issues, offering more simplification than clarification, and a tendency to relativism or absolutism). It also offers seven criticisms of organizational behaviour (political correctness, anecdotes not data, no powerful theories, derivative methodology, confused identity, marketing issues and the problems it attacks). Despite these critiques the paper ends on an "upbeat note" pointing to three examples where progress has been, and is being made.

Suggested Citation

  • Adrian Furnham, 2004. "The Future (and Past) of Work Psychology and Organizational Behaviour: A Personal View," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 15(4), pages 420-436.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:mamere:1861-9908_mrev_2004_04_furnham

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    Work Psychology; Organizational Behaviour; Critique; Future;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • M10 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - General


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