‘Keeping pace with the world of work is not easy’

We put some questions to Professor Jonathan Passmore, Series Editor of the Wiley-Blackwell ‘Organisational Psychology’ series.

What’s different about this series?
The series is probably the most comprehensive coverage of occupational and organisational psychology ever published. The eight 250,000-word volumes provide a Proustian-scale coverage of the domain, and we hope a comprehensive resource for those researching, writing or studying psychological aspects of work. We asked each contributor to write a critical literature review of their area, as opposed to a paper offering their own theory and approach. In this way we hoped to create an essential resource for libraries and research providing a platform for PhD researchers and academics of the key papers, theories and literature in a specific area.

How do you ensure an undertaking like this is truly up to date and representative?
Rather than use the same editorial team for each volume, we have selected teams of two or three globally respected experts in their specific field, and with a deliberate commitment to diversity in terms of nationality and gender. This approach meant we had wider reach to the network of writers and researchers in any specific field, be it leadership and change or health and safety, and thus were able to draw chapter contributions from almost all of the leading names in the specialist field, with a strong international perspective across the series.

What are the other challenges of putting together something of this scale?
Keeping pace with the world of work. In fast-moving areas like the internet this is more of a challenge than in areas such as leadership, where there is a wealth of research dating back five, six, seven decades to draw upon. We left some of the faster-moving areas to last in the series, such as technology and the internet. And of course with nearly 500 individuals contributing to a series of books on this scale meant that our contributors experienced a host of issues during the project which impacted on their work, these included family bereavement, serious illness, relationship breakdowns and changes in employment. But it has also been rewarding to see new research networks spring from collaborations on the books.

Can you pick out a personal highlight?
I’ve learnt so much from reading and editing the 200 or so chapters. The internet at work has been the most interesting for me, as it’s a topic I know least about and one which has been particularly fast-changing over the past decade with the emergence of platforms and increasing interconnectivity leading to changes in work behaviour – such as the creation of the ‘always on’ culture and its impact on areas such as stress and addictive behaviour.

And I hear you’re donating royalties to charity?
Yes, I am told this is unusual. As the Series Editor, I invited each of the title editors who joined the project to do the same. This was a personal and confidential choice. It did create a host of problems for the publishers, Wiley, but they have been fantastic and through the project we been able to make several sizeable donation to the Railway Children: motto ‘We believe in a world where no child has to live on the streets’. I selected this charity at the start of the project back in 2013 because it works with some of the most vulnerable people in both the UK and internationally. As occupational psychologists working in or with large corporates we don’t always give sufficient thought to those with less privileged lives, people who we walk past, this was one way we could make a small contribution to organisations who make a difference.

See tinyurl.com/wileyoccpsy

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