Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 74 Issue 2 (June 2001), Pages 125-251

Epistemology and work psychology: New agendas (pages 125-143)

The aim of this paper is to examine current epistemological debates within psychology and social science generally, and to explicate their significance for the way in which work psychology research is conducted. It is argued that although there have been a number of recent critiques of the epistemological and methodological base of psychology, the research base of work psychology has come in for little such attention. The result has been a lack of reflexivity on the part of work psychologists. One potential challenge to this status quo comes from postmodernism which has had a significant impact on other areas of social science. This paper illustrates some of the key tensions and debates that result from extending these epistemological debates to the realm of work psychology. It is argued that a consideration of epistemology is important for work psychologists; and that different approaches to positivism, such as postmodernism, can provide us with different ways of examining and conducting work psychology research. The importance of epistemological reflexivity is highlighted within the paper: that is the researcher makes explicit, and critically reflects upon, the epistemological assumptions that underlie their own work. Finally, the authors assess the implications of this for work psychology research and practice generally.

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