Psychology and the World of Work: Second edition

This book, now in its second edition, provides a clear description of all the major theories and research in this area, including group dynamics, leadership and personality. It also has a useful appendix on data collection and analysis. The clear structure, end of chapter summaries and review questions make it a useful student text.

Psychology and the World of Work: Second edition
By David A Statt
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Pages: 464 Price: £27.99 ISBN: 1403901554 Reviewed by Martin Goodman
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However, this is not merely a descriptive tome, because there are a number of sections where Statt sets out his own views – and cynicism – often in a way that sharply challenges conventional wisdom on a particular subject.

In the chapter entitled ‘The time dimension’, Statt argues that it is misleading to believe that the pace of change in today’s world is ‘unprecedented’. This is because “in the psychology of modern Western business culture…[there is] little sense of the past and [we are] thus unable to put current events in the perspective of time and to make a comparative judgement.”

In fact, the book systematically debunks several management myths, including the notion that new technology has radically altered the way we work.

It is disappointing that Statt does not discuss the psychological role of e-mail in communication. In particular, the book is silent on the dangers of over-reliance on this form of communication, where tone and intent are much more difficult to decipher than with the spoken word. Neither does it mention the psychological and political impact (intended or otherwise) of sending an e-mail message to an individual in an organisation where it is also copied or blind copied to others.

Also on the downside, Statt sometimes engages so savagely in an argument that he allows his command of grammar to slip into a hustings-style diatribe. For instance, in his attack on employers who seek to control staff through coercion, he notes: “…they might be able to buy them off. But loyalty they will not get…”

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Martin Goodman is director of HR consulting at Cornwell Management Consultants

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