We all want Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) to address relevant real world issues using methods that are fit for purpose. We want to see research, policy and practice intimately related. We want to make a difference. However, there are two important caveats that concern me with regards this otherwise exemplary vision.
First, not only should OHP address those issues that present themselves now but it must be concerned for and seek to address those that are currently emerging and those issues that we might anticipate in the short to longer terms. Obviously, this requires us to increase the importance of horizon scanning and also of preparedness in our discipline and to develop the scientific methodologies and management processes that might support them. Taken together these different things will lead us into new territories of research, conceptual and methodological, most will be situated beyond the boundaries of what is currently published in our esteemed journals. It will also lead to new forms of policy and practice. These are no bad things.
Second, a forward-looking stance is not my only concern. There is another which is geopolitical and economic. We need to ensure our world-wide relevance and make clear our concern for all societies, peoples and forms of work. To these ends, we have to develop and practice a discipline that is relevant to the challenges and needs of under developed and developing countries and to countries outside of the Western geopolitical sphere. Achieving these things will again lead us into new areas of research, policy and practice.
If OHP remains a discipline focused largely on the now and mainly that of Western/developed countries then it will have failed us all in the wider sense. This is especially clear when seen in the context of fast changing technologies and politics in a fast changing world economic community. The challenges are to keep OHP relevant for the future and as a real world discipline for all … if we want it to be more than just an another traditional academic subject.