My shelfie… Dr Paul Redford
Self-efficacy is the psychological construct that I am most drawn to in relation to my personal and professional experiences. The simplicity of the ideas, the robust nature of the construct, the strength of the supporting research, the breadth of impact in people’s lives, the utility of the research regarding how to change it, and the levels of applicability from individuals to organisations. It underpins my approach to teaching, parenting and self-development. I dread to think how many times I have said ‘there are four sources of self-efficacy’. This book covers it all.
Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
I love this book. Without a doubt the book I most frequently recommend to anybody who will listen to me. Some actually read it, although I am not sure they like it as much as I do. The title, the size, the look and feel, the page weight, and the way that Gordon MacKenzie describes his 30-year career at Hallmark cards all work for me. I still find myself both laughing out loud and gaining insight into organisational life every time I read it. In summary, organisations are hairballs, the key is how to try to orbit them.
People Studying People
Ralph Rosnow & Robert Rosenthal
Having taught research methods for over 15 years, I have read through more research methods and statistics books than I care to think about. There are many how to do research and analysis type books, but I am aware of few books that provide a good psychological perspective regarding the actual process of people studying people. As with all their books, Rosnow and Rosenthal write with a style that is both engaging and informative. This simple little book stands out for me as it provides a great insight into the process of research. It goes beyond the nuts and bolts of doing research to focus on a psychological understanding of the research methods. It is all very ‘meta’.
Ideas and Realities of Emotion
During my doctoral research I read Brian Parkinson’s work regarding emotion. This book provided a very convincing psychological approach to understanding emotion drawing from a broad range of literature about the social nature of emotion. Brian Parkinson’s research and approach summarised in this book provided an approach that was sympathetic to different sources of evidence and provided a clear narrative regarding the complex phenomena of emotional experience. This book demonstrated to me the central social and relational nature of what might be considered intrapsychic experiences, shaping my view of many psychological phenomena.
Working at the Interface of Cultures: Eighteen Lives in Social Science
Edited by Michael Harris Bond
Also, whilst I was conducting research for my doctorate, my supervisor Peter Smith was working on the second edition of his Social Psychology Across Cultures text with Michael Harris Bond. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Michael in Hong Kong as part of my data collection. As a member of the community of researchers involved with the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, I began to understand the journeys that had led people into their fields of research. This book includes many of their stories and was the first book I had read that outlined individuals’ personal experiences in the research process. Many of the stories contained within this book are truly inspiring.
The Human Side of Enterprise
Despite their being hairballs, I believe that organisations can be a powerful source of positive human experience, although I am also aware that for many this is not the case. Although this book is more than 50 years old, it includes some insights that still feel fresh regarding positive organisations. Of course the writing is of its time, but many ideas contained within the book would not be out of place in a recent article about positive organisational scholarship. This book enthuses me over how powerful organisational stories are in shaping our experiences of work, saddens me over how many organisations I experience have not moved beyond ‘Theory X’ ways of working (which was identified as problematic half a century ago), but also gives hope!
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