Strengthening the link between industry and research

  • Blog
  • 25 April 2018

Launched in 2013, the Indigogold Work Psychology Innovation Award celebrates the most exciting and inspiring projects to emerge out of MSc programmes across the country.  Previous finalists have discussed workplace stress, career development, gender, leadership, the impact of the financial crisis, and even emojis. By bringing together scholars and industry professionals, Indigogold has created a unique platform for new thinking to be discussed in real contexts.

““Academics are sometimes in danger of doing research that is not applied because it’s not contextualised in organisations, and practitioners are guilty sometimes of not being evidence-based in the way they work. One of the motivations we’ve got as an organisation is to increase the communication between these two groups; this award is the vehicle which we use to facilitate that conversation.””

Daniel Vacassin Founder Director of IndigoGold

Project topics have been consistently engaging, providing vital insights into some of the biggest challenges facing organisations.  From investigating the significance of rumour, the impact of Brexit on civil servants, or looking at the barriers to reporting unethical behaviour; this year’s award finalists pushed the boundaries in identifying and examining up and coming challenges in the modern workplace.

Looking back, the first year produced two outstanding project winners.

  • Wendy Jephson submitted a fascinating dissertation examining the role that emotions play in financial decision making. Her study tested the impact of emotion regulation on cognitive bias. Her research questioned what led people to hold onto losing stock longer whilst selling winning stock more quickly.
  • Celia Young’s MSc project provided a ground-breaking study into CV development for the long term unemployed, producing one of the first qualitative studies undertaken in this area.
  • Another great qualitative study was conducted by Ruth Abrams, runner up in 2016/2017. Ruth was intrigued by the dissonance between best practice models of job selection and the real-world experiences reported to her by her peers. Her study led her to investigate the negatives effects of poor hiring practices and the impact on organisational reputation.

Although projects varied from year to year, some themes were more prevalent than others.  It’s not surprising topics such as work place stress, employee attrition, and resilience appeared most years, as these present massive challenges to modern employers.

  • Sara Estevez Cores, winner in 2015, decided to investigate the effectiveness of work place stress interventions in her dissertation at Kings College London. She discovered that employee interventions were effective at reducing stress-related symptoms in employees but had no impact on absenteeism. You can read about her work here. This topic was revisited by this year’s winner Yasmine Ayane, who looked at the relationship between conscientiousness and resilience in the UK Fire and Rescue service.
  • Steve Abrams from Kingston University took a different approach to exploring a similar idea. He was interested in the growing attrition of teachers in the UK state education sector. He decided to explore this by looking at the impact of mythologizing the pupil-teacher learning experience. He posited that the idea of the ‘inspired’ student and ‘passionate’ teacher is a fairy-tale construct and is in stark contrast to a reality where both teachers and pupils are becoming disenchanted, with many teachers experiencing burnout and quitting the profession. He argued that leaders need to engage more with teachers to help them clarify the problems the face and become their own narrators, as they are the experts of their experience. Read a summary of his work on our blog here.

Embracing the IG ethos of making ideas happen, the awards have always sought to acknowledge those projects that provide solutions to real world problems.  However interesting the dissertation topics might be, research shouldn’t exist solely in a vacuum.  So, every year, faced with lots of great, ambitions and intelligence submissions, the award judges ask a difficult question of each one: ‘so what’?

This has ensured that the awards have remained focused not on just new thinking, but also on research that can influence change at an organisational level.

  • For instance, 2015 runner-up Joel Ockwell, from the University of Sheffield, wanted to learn how HR professionals and managers can better identify whether a candidate is job-ready for a role or promotion by ensuring more effective assessment procedures. He investigated the effectiveness of scoring methods for the Situational Judgment Tests (SJT) and how this can increase the validity of the findings. His results had implications for both practitioners and organisations – you can read about his findings on our blog.
  • The following year, winner Nicola Murry investigated the potential of the SJT as a resilience-building intervention that could help reduce attrition level and employee stress. Both these projects provided valuable research that could be readily adapted and implemented in any business sector.

For students and judges alike, the awards provide an invaluable source of ideas and a chance for academics and practitioners to engage with each other in insightful and stimulating discussion. As the challenges facing the modern-day workplace continue to evolve, we are excited about the future concepts and solutions that the IG Work Psychology Innovation Award will find.

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