Q + A with Rachel Morrison
Dr Rachel Morrison is a Senior Lecturer within AUT's Faculty of Business, Economics and Law and is an active member of our Wellbeing and Performance Research Group. Rachel teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate Organisational Behaviour / Work Psychology.
When asking Rachel to fill in the blanks: "Organisational Behaviour is ___,___, and___", here's what she said:
Organisational Behaviour is relevant to almost all people (anyone who has a job), draws on psychological research that is easily applied to everyday activities, and gives me insight into those I am lucky enough to work with.
(1) When and why did you decide that you wanted a career in psychology?
I enrolled in first-year psychology papers without really knowing what psychology was. However, I quickly realised that understanding why people do things, and gaining insights into how we think, act and interact were compelling and interesting areas of enquiry. Nothing else is as interesting as thinking about yourself and your peers! I am most interested in 'normal' adult people, so I decided to focus on the psychology of workers (organisational behaviour) rather than on people with, for example, mental health or developmental problems, as many of my peers did.
(2) Describe one of your recent research projects.
Most recently, I have been researching how the physical environment of work (such as open-plan offices) affects workers. I focus on how and when people in organisations interact with each other, on their stress and wellbeing, and on how distraction and privacy relate to performance.
(3) Describe the key results/main findings.
We find that many of the expected outcomes of open-plan or shared workspaces (such as improved collaboration and cooperation) are not evident. The expected negative outcomes, on the other hand, are present. Many people in open or shared offices report being more distracted, annoyed by nearby others, and less productive.
(4) What makes this research impactful?
The main thing that gives this research impact is that the majority of workers occupy these shared offices! In addition, many organisations are in the process of removing single-cell offices and dividers from those who do have some degree of privacy. These decisions are often made to 'improve collaboration' (which may not happen) and to be more cost-effective. It is essential that we have good data on how to ameliorate negative outcomes, and manage this process to standards of best practice.
(5) What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to hang out with my gorgeous kids and my husband. My kids are at a fantastic life-stage, enjoying activities like riding bikes, beaches, and cooking. Spending time as a family is my greatest pleasure.