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The Research Institute of Personnel Psychology, Organizational Development and Quality of Working Life (IDOCAL) aims to promote research from the academic field to improve both the quality of life and organizations in the workplace.

The "Universitat de València", through the establishment of the institute, aims to promote and disseminate psychological research and to encourage the application of knowledge and tools that psychology can provide in different areas of society, such as the quality of working life and the better functioning of organizations in the field of work.

On 30 January, 2008, the Governing Council of the University of Valencia (UV) approved the creation of the Research Institute of Personnel Psychology, Organizational Development and Quality of Working Life (IDOCAL). With this project, it is intended to promote research from the academic field to improve both the quality of life and organizations in the workplace.

With proposals such as the one now launched by the University of Valencia, through the creation of an institute of these characteristics, not only is psychological research promoted and disseminated, but also the application of the knowledge and tools that are promoted is favored. Psychology can contribute in different areas of society, such as the quality of working life and the better functioning of organizations in the field of work.

On the occasion of the approval and implementation of this initiative, Infocop Online interviewed Prof. Dr. José María Peiró, Director of IDOCAL at its creation. Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Valencia, Professor Peiró is also Director of the Research Unit of Psychology of Organizations and Labor (UIPOT) and of the Doctorate in Psychology of Human Resources of the UV. In addition internationally he is President of the Division 1 Organizational Psychology and Labor of the International Association of Applied Psychology IAAP, and European Master in Psychology of Work, Organizations and Human Resources (WOP-P).


The University of Valencia creates a new Research Institute of Personnel Psychology, Organizational Development and Quality of Working Life (IDOCAL)

Read the interview in INFOCOP ONLINE

Interview - Publication date 02/22/2008 13:31:00


1-First of all, we would like to know a little more about this institute. How did this project come up? What needs are intended to be covered with its implementation?

The research of the Psychology of Work and Organizations in our country has been carried out predominantly, in the last decades, in the university departments and often in relatively small groups in its beginnings. Over the past years it has been shaping and consolidating research groups in a number of universities on this subject, there have been projects funded by competitive calls and doctoral theses have been written. In addition, the level of publication in this area is increasingly bulky, as we have been able to show in various publications in collaboration with Professor Munduate on the Development of Work and Organizational Psychology in Spain.

However, the current demands, network cooperation with European research centers and strong competitiveness in obtaining resources in research calls require research units size and sufficient to tackle projects of a certain size in a multidisciplinary context critical mass and in various fields, and scientific activity: basic research, R + D + I, evaluation and provision of services to companies. In addition, it requires the creation of qualified contexts for the training of researchers in quality programs. It also needs international projection.

These are the main functions of a University Institute that aims to offer a friendly and quality "interface" with the potential applicants for the generation and transfer of knowledge. This need is also felt in the field of work and business, in the aspects most directly related to the people who integrate them and the organizational systems. Given this finding, and taking into account developments in this field in our university, its governing bodies have seen the convenience and the opportunity to create an Institute of these characteristics.


2-In medium and long term, what actions do you have in mind to start up? What objectives do you want to cover in labour matters and organizations?

IDOCAL proposes a development with greater scope of actions than those already underway, together with other newly created measures. The Research Unit of Work and Organizational Psychology (UIPOT), created more than 25 years ago, currently has more than twenty full-time researchers, several technicians and 12 research fellows. In addition, he has a long history of cooperation with a group of professors of Behavioral Sciences Methodology.

This Unit has reached achievements that constitute the basis for the creation of the IDOCAL Institute. On the one hand, it was recognized by the Generalitat of Valencia as a research group of excellence for almost a decade now. On the other hand, he has coordinated for more than five years the Interuniversity Doctorate Program in Psychology of Organizations and Work developed with four other Spanish universities (Barcelona, Complutense of Madrid, Seville, Jaime I) and that has counted since its inception with the mention of Quality of the Ministry of Education and Science. In addition, it has achieved the recognition of the European Union with the approval of the Erasmus Mundus Master's Degree in Work, Organizations and Human Resources Psychology, coordinating a consortium formed with four other European universities (Barcelona, Bologna, Coimbra and Paris 5). Finally, two years ago, the National Commission of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education and Science awarded him a Consolider Axis C project (for five years), which is a recognition of the quality of his research and new challenges in the research activity .

Now, with the creation of this new institute, other groups, also with a wide and high quality research career, they are integrated in a joint project. Thus, it has a research group in stress psychobiology, another in topics related to career development and vocational counseling and a third from the field of market research with extensive research activity in the quality of service and satisfaction of the clients. With all these additions, a group of more than 50 researchers is obtained, of which about 15 are in the training phase through the doctoral programs that will be integrated into the Institute. Among the actions that are proposed to continue or start, it is worth mentioning, on the one hand, the development of the various research projects that are underway and, on the other, the realization of the strategic research plan for the first four-year period of the Institute.

On the other hand, it will continue with the implementation of the Erasmus Mundus Master and the implementation of the new Doctorate program, which will incorporate the guidelines of the European Convergence and the new legislation in this area. In the third place, a system will be implemented to boost R & D to meet the demands of companies and other organizations and institutions with which the units that make up the IDOCAL have cooperative relations. Finally, the consolidation of international relations is pursued.

The Institute will focus in challenges such us the creation of  joint degrees, along with the need of increasing the collaboration network with research centres in other European countries and other regions of the world.

As far as research is concerned, for the next four-year period, IDOCAL proposes the following lines of research, each of them integrated by several financed projects:

  1. Strategy and management of organizational change. 
  2. Job environment in organizations. 
  3. Working groups and information and communication technologies. 
  4. Diversity in the work units. 
  5. Safety culture in highly reliable complex socio-technical systems.
  6. Quality of service, customer relations and user satisfaction.


3-Issues such as promoting safety and improving the quality of life in the workplace are obvious concerns in our current society. These are also related to the recognition of the importance of Psychology in the field of work. Based on your extensive experience on this field, what does a project of this nature mean for Psychology?

First of all, it is a commitment of the University of Valencia to dedicate resources, efforts and human capital to develop quality research, development of methodology and professional technology, promotion of innovation and provision of services to companies and other organizations in the field of human resources, the quality of working life and organizational development. This investment, also arises from the conviction that Psychology and behavioral sciences can make significant contributions in this area of human and social activity.

In addition, we want this project to represent a support and impulse for the Psychology of Work and Organizations in our country. This support and impulse can be performed in multiple ways: through cooperation with other research groups, through cooperation with the Official Colleges of Psychologists and the General Council of Official Colleges of Psychologists on issues that allow the development and dissemination of knowledge in our discipline and in other activities designed to approximate cooperation between researchers and professionals.

IDOCAL aims to maintain a close collaboration with professionals and companies through the development of new technologies and tools that help and support professional practice. In addition, cooperation with these professionals should facilitate the identification of priority demands in this practice that require R & D & I to achieve greater efficiency.


4-In general, how does the psychological discipline contribute to the world of organizations and work? I mean, what can Psychology offer in a field such as work?

The Psychology of Work and Organizations has a history of over one hundred years, in which it has made important contributions in the world of work and organizations. In our country too, this trajectory is long, although it has gone through different vicissitudes depending on the historical ups and downs.

Throughout all this time, Psychology has contributed to improve the quality of working life, safety and risk prevention, the improvement of working conditions, the social work environment, the satisfaction of workers and a long etc. It has also contributed to improve organizations, their processes and effectiveness, making them more human and also more productive. In addition, these contributions, often innovative, have promoted a greater dynamic adaptation of organizations with their environment.

Theoretical models and technologies have allowed psychologists to consolidate a professional role that is crearly valued in many companies, by workers and unions.These models are developed in several areas such as selection, training, organizational change, career development, job redesign, performance evaluation, mediation in conflicts, actions in situations of unemployment, etc., 

Today, these contributions are more necessary than ever because the world of work and business is undergoing major transformations due to globalization, technological and demographic changes, changes in values, in the economy, in the market and the growing demand in the service sector in a knowledge society. All of these along with other changes are having repercussions and fundamental implications for the organization of companies, their work systems and their own work activity. In addition, other organizations such as the public administration or non-profit organizations are also raising demands on the Psychology of Work and Organizations with increasing scope.

All these transformations have questioned a good part of the theoretical-conceptual models and of the technologies consolidated over decades. However, the vitality of the profession and of research has strategies, resources and initiatives to adapt to new demands, basing new strategies and contributions in research and development. Therefore, it is increasingly important to increase and intensify cooperation between research and professional practice.

On the other hand, it is essential that our country invest in research on these issues because in today's society it is human capital and people the critical factors to produce value and achieve competitive advantage and sustainable development. It will not be possible to achieve the European Lisbon agenda without a decisive investment in the development of human and social capital. In this task, the contributions of work psychologists and organizations are inescapable.


5-You can be proud to be one of the personalities in our country that has put the most remarkable effort into the configuration, development and implementation of postgraduate programs of specialization in this area. In addition, the so-called European area of education has created a very special situation for the development of new training proposals. At what times are we currently in relation to the Psychology of Organizations, Work and Human Resources? How do you see the future of this specialty?

As in all times of change, we are facing an important and exciting challenge. During the last three decades, Spanish Psychology has made important advances and advances in research and in the training of professionals.

A look at the faculties of Psychology, their professors' pictures, their initiatives in postgraduate training and their research production highlight the clearly positive trajectory and the ability to respond to social demands. In the case of the Psychology of Work and Organizations, the initiative of the Psychology Faculties made a good part of the postgraduate training (through their own degrees) in Management and Development of Human Resources and in Risk Prevention Psychosocial was offered predominantly from Psychology, at least in public universities.

Now the situation is changing. The emergence of new degrees such as the Labor Sciences, the greater focus of studies on business organization to HR management and the proposal of multiple masters on topics such as knowledge management and other aspects related to our discipline, make there is a more diverse offer in which other social sciences are concurring and making offers.

The new legislation on official undergraduate and postgraduate degrees which removes the catalog of degrees to make a record out of them, proposes a wider a much more open, less regulated and much more flexible situation that will have important consequences on the profile and future of our degree and profession. It is an important change in the context, and the Psychology of Work and Organizations (academics and professionals) will have to analyze this new environment, with new opportunities and threats and will have to see what is its differential value. In addition, collaboration with other disciplines will have to be expanded, in order to offer training and a profile more in line with market demands. In our area, it is complicated and unlikely an exclusive regulation for the psychologist of the exercise of a good part of their profession and, therefore, it is exercised in competition and in collaboration with other professionals.

I have the impression that in the coming decades there will be important changes in our profession and in the profile or profiles of the work psychologist and organizations, as well as in the patterns and formative profiles and in the academic development itself. The lines of these changes are not clear, but in situations like the one we now face, it is important to adopt a strategic, creative and innovative perspective.

I believe that this is the most important task that we have before us, scientists, academics and professionals of the Psychology of Work and Organizations, especially in a collective way. For this, it is important to have the support of the institutions and organizations, especially the academic and the collegiate.

Fifteen years ago, there were a few days of strategic reflection on the profession organized by the Official College of Psychologists of Spain. The results were published in "Papeles del Psicólogo" (1993) and a reading from the current situation can give a clear idea of its usefulness and relevance. Most likely, we find ourselves at a time when it is convenient a new strategic reflection about the future of the discipline and the profession in our country.

On the other hand, the celebration in the next year of the European Congress of Work Psychology and Organizations in our country (Santiago de Compostela) is an excellent opportunity to analyze together with other professionals and researchers from all over Europe and other parts of the world. world, these issues that are central to the present and the future of our discipline and profession.