This article was edited by SPRITE+ Research Associate Dmitry Dereshev, with responses and edits from Professor Julie Gore.
The spotlight today is on Julie Gore – Chartered Psychologist, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Evidence Based Management at Birkbeck, University of London. Julie is editor of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), SPRITE+ Expert Fellow, and a SPRITE+ Challenge Working Group Leader on Accountability & Ethics in a Digital Ecosystem. Some of Julie's recent publications/podcasts include:
How would you describe your job to someone unrelated to your work?
I am a psychologist – a social scientist who looks at how people think and behave. I am interested in how people make decisions. My job is partly about researching those decisions, and partly about teaching decision-making. I work with experts, managers, professionals, people in the military and in health organisations, where I look at how they make good decisions about their work. I focus on positive context-specific decision-making.
Once experts become professionals, they often find it difficult to explain what they are doing as an expert. Driving is a good example – once you know how to drive, it is difficult to explain to others exactly what it is you are doing when you are driving. This type of tacit knowledge is one that experts obtain usually over several years working in a particular field. The research methods I use (called cognitive task analysis) access this expert thinking.
Could you describe what you do during a typical workday?
No day is quite the same. Recently I have been teaching very large groups of students virtually via pre-recorded lectures, and then via live online interactive sessions, which are focused on the psychology of decision-making and leadership. I generally teach a range of students at undergraduate, MBA and PhD levels. Students have been incredibly receptive to online teaching which has been great. I think we need to say thanks to our students for being so resilient during the global pandemic. We are all part of a worldwide teaching experiment and the collaborative effort has been very creative.
I am also an active researcher, so could be supervising my PhD students, interviewing people, or presenting at conferences (online or in person) in different parts of the world. I am also involved with leadership tasks. One of the most rewarding roles I have is completing my editorial work for the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology.
Could you describe a challenging project that you have recently worked on?
I enjoy working with industry. The project I have been working on looked at some of the decision-making psychology that I use to help access tacit knowledge of a group of experts involved in trading surveillance. The surveillance officers possess high levels of expertise in monitoring hundreds of thousands of trades, looking for anomalies and compliance issues. I helped question those experts to access their tacit knowledge. We explored their cognitive expertise in detail, documented their tacit knowledge, and now that knowledge can be incorporated into online systems to help with decision-making, and to train new people in surveillance.
What training/experience did you have at the start of your career?
I completed my first degree at Huddersfield University in Behavioural Sciences (psychology, sociology, philosophy) and was taught by lots of applied, practicing psychologists, which really influenced my approach to research. I did lots of training when I was an undergraduate and experienced a diverse range of different organisations which utilise psychologists.
When I started my PhD journey at Oxford Brookes University, I was a teaching assistant. I completed a teaching qualification, and trained in psychometrics, because I was interested in connections between psychometrics and decision-making. I did lots of methodological training back then, and I continue to attend training courses to keep up to date. You can find assessment of psychometric tools at the British Psychological Society Psychological Testing Centre.
The qualitative methods I am most known for are Cognitive Task Analysis methods. Applied cognitive tasks analysis is a series of semi-structured interviews which access tacit knowledge. These could use visual methods like drawings, looking at key moments in time, mapping decisions in detail, completing timelines – there are over 150 cognitive task analysis methods, which are all based in applied psychology accessing the way experts think and make decisions.
How did you get into your current role?
I have had quite a traditional academic career with lots of teaching, leading, directing, and developing courses. I have always worked in a management school, which allows you to look at different people in different industries.
What do you wish you had known when you started your career?
I wish I had known that academic articles being rejected happens even to the most successful professors. I think a lot of academic work is unaccounted for, and rejection is a large part of the job. Resilience is essential.
What would you recommend to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Academia is very different now from what it was 30 years ago. If you want a role which has both teaching and research, you need to decide early on which of the two you want to contribute to most. Given how academics are currently assessed, it is a challenge to do both.
What troubles did you have progressing through your career?
My biggest challenge was to have my research area accepted in the mainstream. If you are trying to build a theory from the bottom up, that takes time. My field of Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) has spent the last 30 years gaining a body of evidence to support theoretical development. Publishing that in mainstream journals has been incredibly challenging.
What stereotypes would like to dispel about your job or industry?
That all professors are men. I think that image is a very outdated stereotype. Professors can look like all kinds of different people. When you search google - the images associated with Profs are still very unrepresentative.
How would you describe your research or business interest in relation to SPRITE+?
I am part of the Accountability and Ethics Challenge Working Group with Jonathan Foster from the University of Sheffield. We are interested in looking at stakeholders and academics to find out more about what questions they have about accountability and ethics in digital ecosystems. Hopefully by the end of our two years working together we will have spoken to stakeholders, and to different academics from interdisciplinary groups, to find out which questions are the most pertinent to them in this area. Jonathan in interested in the governance of that process. I am interested in how individuals make sense of that process, i.e., what accountability and ethics means to different people.
How do you hope to benefit from working with SPRITE+ network?
I like working with different interdisciplinary groups and teams because you get different perspectives on how to look at and solve problems. I find that exciting. Working with different groups and teams within academia and industry also helps me reflect on my own research. It’s a win-win collaboration.
Which of the SPRITE+ Challenge Themes can you relate to from the job that you do?
I think the role of trust in the challenge themes is important. The changing nature of trust in decision-making especially when we are working in virtual environments is complex to navigate. Exploring how we can develop swift trust, how we can develop trust across cultures, how we can navigate trust across stakeholder groups – that area of inquiry in decision-making is exciting.
There are theoretical notions of trust in management literature, in psychology, sociology, and in philosophy. Because of the way we work now, we have many more encounters with people, our networks are broader, and our ability to trust others becomes more difficult to explore. When you meet people face to face, trust can occur because of non-verbal cues, but building and gaining trust is different online. We need to be more careful about whom to trust, what information to trust, and how that may affect your decision-making, and that of others.
Call for Events is now open! We're supporting Members and Expert Fellows to lead activities that explore aspects of TIPS in the Digital Economy. We will help to organise the activity with up to £5,000 to cover the associated costs.