Course taster

Contemporary issues in business psychology

The environment in which individuals and organisations find themselves is rapidly changing. Technological advances, more diverse populations, changing business and economic conditions and the changing nature of work lead to more and different demands and responsibilities for work and organisational psychologists (Robbins and Judge, 2013; Schultz and Schultz, 2020). Therefore, organisations cannot be insulated from changes occurring in their external environment. We have witnessed rapid economic growth in countries without a strong industrial tradition until recent times and slow economic growth in the more mature economies. This has occurred at a time of greater global competition and the easing of restrictions on international trade. As a result, there is a significant increase in competition globally, which directly impacts the way companies are structured and managed. For example, employees are expected to be more flexible and develop a capacity to cope with rapid change.

It is no longer the case that technology used in production and administration is available only to countries with an industrial heritage - it is more readily available now in many other parts of the world. Customers are more demanding when it comes to the quality and price of goods and services they purchase. People generally are more conscious of the effects of industrial waste and pollution in their local environment. There is an ageing population, which has implications for the nature of the composition of the workforce. Multinational companies striving for greater critical mass are crossing national boundaries to merge with other companies or enter into joint ventures with foreign partners. In the European Union, labour mobility is a reality, which calls for sensitivity to other nations' cultures. However, it must be said that labour mobility was an important factor that may have influenced many UK voters to vote in favour of exiting the EU in the 2016 referendum (McKenna, 2020).

Finally, in a world where people in organisations must live with the effects of the credit crunch and consequent world recession of 2008-2009 and the subsequent era of austerity, one can expect constant pruning of expenditure, a minimum level of resources, job insecurity, more exacting output targets and highly competitive conditions in the marketplace. Although employees may be motivated by a desire to hold on to their jobs, it would not be surprising if the employees' loyalty to the organisation vanished and occupational stress became a real problem. Also, there may be a tendency to bend the rules in these conditions and engage in behaviour that is not ethical. Therefore, the issue of ethics is likely to feature more prominently in the future. Finally, an unknown factor is the economic and social impact of Brexit, and it will take some time for both the positives and negatives of such a major development to be expressed in more explicit form.

Further reading

Read the following short article on current trends in business psychology:

Activity 1.2: Trends in business psychology

This activity will help you analyse current issues and controversies around business psychology.

Take a moment to consider how the COVID pandemic has affected different types of businesses and organisations. Do you think that the pandemic has had a direct (or indirect) effect on any of the trends listed in the article? In what other ways do you think the pandemic may shape future organisational trends?

Summarise your thoughts on the Discussion Board (up to 150 words). Try to reply to at least two of your peers (The link to the Discussion Board is not available in this course taster).