Bridging the divide in work and occupational psychology: evidence from practice

Bartlett, Dean and Francis-Smythe, Jan (2016) Bridging the divide in work and occupational psychology: evidence from practice. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 25 (5). pp. 615-630. ISSN 1359-432X


This study explores the extent to which work and organizational (W&O) psychology practitioners use evidence, how they apply it to the everyday contexts in which they work and the types of barriers they encounter in so doing. It adopts a mixed methods approach involving the administration of a survey to a UK sample (N=163) of W&O psychologists and a series of semi-structured interviews (N=25) exploring in greater depth how evidence is applied in practice. Findings reveal that practitioners consult a wide range of different types of evidence which they employ at various stages of engagement with client organisations and that this evidence is pressed into service in the pursuit of solutions which are acceptable from the client perspective and which are consistent with the scientific standards underpinning professional knowledge and expertise in W&O psychology. Barriers to evidence-use were mainly practical in nature, concerning issues around managing the client-consultant relationship and the particularities of implementation context, both of which were shown to influence evidence utilisation. The study contributes to current debate on the extent to which W&O psychologists adopt an evidence-based approach and provides a valuable and much called-for empirical insight into the enactment of the scientist-practitioner model in W&O psychology.

Keywords: science-practice divide, scientist-practitioner model, evidence-based practice, research utilisation, consultancy cycle, W&O psychologists.

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