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Shaking the foundations of occupational psychology

3rd Feb 2011
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It’s rare to hear something that challenges the fundamentals of our work as business psychologists. A talk I attended at the Division of Occupational Psychology Conference did just that.

Let me take individual development planning as the example. How effective are we at driving forward business performance improvements? Is this the right approach?

Well, it’s commonly accepted that context and environment influence behaviour.  What’s less clear is exactly how this happens.

The conference highlighted research by behavioural genetics which suggests that genetics have the far bigger impact.  This makes me question whether our ‘developmental’ approach can ever drive sustained behavioural change. I ask myself - should we be trying to change individuals to fit roles or adapt roles to reflect common behavioural preferences and human trends?

How realistic is it for people to become more ‘planned and organised’ and ‘flexible’? Why don’t we define roles around individual’s strengths?

I don’t have complete answers to these questions. But, by continuing to question our own theories and methods, we’ll be sure to drive performance more effectively.


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