Work and Organisational Psychology

Our research

Sustainable Employment

The group’s leading theme for research is sustainable employment of employees in organisations. This implies that we investigate factors that determine whether people are able to continue doing their job in good health in the long-run: including factors affecting performance at work, health and well-being, knowledge and skills, and the context in which they have to work.

This includes Occupational Health related topics. Here we address questions like: How can people recover from work? What helps or hinders employees to deal with the demands of work? Here we pay special attention to emotion regulation strategies and the role of mindfulness. It also includes research focussing on understanding the underlying biological processes leading to fatigue and recovery with help of (f)MRI.

We also look at how individuals and teams adapt to changes in their work, the role of the dark and bright side of personality at work, and factors contributing to workplace learning.

In our research we employ a large variety of research methods and techniques (such as experience-sampling studies, field intervention studies, laboratory experiments, and (f)MRI research), that are all geared to capture the dynamics of the processes we study.

From theory to the field: Applying research

Our research aims to understand the processes in the world of work, but we also try to use our insights to help society, organisations and individuals to cope with the demands of today’s world. 

The Centre for inclusive Organisations is a cooperation with the Dutch Social security Fund (UWV) and illustrates the team’s commitment to apply our knowledge to society. The Centre aims to generate and develop knowledge, insights and instruments that help organisations to become more inclusive, particularly by helping organisations to solve HR issues through facilitating alternative options, like employing people with a distance to the labour market because of a disability, or psychological or developmental disorder.

Furthermore, we participate in the regional programme 4Limburg, a cooperation between the Province of Limburg and Maastricht University that aims to increase the participation of the population of Limburg.

Our teaching

In addition to our research, we also teach students about above topics. We maintain two master's programmes in Work and Organisational psychology: a two-years International Joint Master of Research in Work and Organizational Psychology, and a regular one-year Work and Organisational Psychology master's programme.

The joint master's programme is a collaboration with University of Valencia (Spain), and Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany). This program includes a mobility component: students will study in all three cities: Maastricht, Lüneburg, and Valencia.

Furthermore, we contribute to the Master in Human Decision Science, a joint programme with the School of Business and Economics.


Academic staff

PhD Students

  • Khalid Alameer [PhD Student]
  • Daniel Cancela [PhD Student]
  • Karolina Eschen [PhD student]
  • Eka Gatari [PhD Student]
  • Untung Manara [PhD Student]
  • Sophie Nöthel [PhD Student]
  • Rosine Rutten [PhD Student]
  • Johanna Schmitz-Pfeffer [PhD Student]
  • Darta Vasiljeva [PhD Student]
  • Lea-Sophie Vink [PhD Student]
  • James Wilkinson [PhD Student]

Administrative staff

Research lines

Occupational Health Psychology: How can people remain healthy, motivated and satisfied with their work?

Why are some teams able to adaptively respond to unexpected events while others fall apart?

We use a combination of laboratory and field research to investigate factors that contribute to team learning and adaptation. Thereby we investigate concepts, such as development and change in routines, communication patterns, cognitive structures, and adaptive leadership. Our research can be characterized as behavioural and longitudinal. We primarily apply behavioural observation methods to study teams (e.g. capturing video-recordings or using logged behavioural data) and we make use of repeated observations in order to investigate how teams develop and change over time.

People working in this research line:

  • Sjir Uitdewilligen


Occupational Neuroscience of Effort, Exhaustion and Recovery: Why does your brain get tired?

The predominantly mental nature of today’s work entails that employees increasingly invest mental instead of physical effort in their tasks. This leads to varying degrees of mental exhaustion, from which an employee has to recover sufficiently in order for them to remain healthy and engaged in their career. This is an important aspect which directly links this fundamental research to the broader “sustainable employability” focus of the section.

In our research, we are aiming to understand how exactly the brain gets exhausted during the investment of mental effort. While mechanisms  and effects of physical effort investment are well-understood, our research is the first that has succeeded in showing how the investment of mental effort has immediate and prolonged effects in the brain.

In our research, we use a broad array of techniques, from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to questionnaires and accelerometric sleep trackers. For laboratory studies, we are able to simulate common and uncommon work conditions in a variety of settings from a simulated office to a helicopter simulator. 


  • Tobias Otto
  • Fred Zijlstra

Sustainable employability: Facilitating people to function at work and in the labor market on the long term.

This research line focusses on identifying the factors that contribute to sustainable employability. Here, sustainable employability should be seen as a broad social construct that spans several complementary indicators in the health, well-being, competence, and employability domains. As such, a multidisciplinary perspective is indispensable. Moreover, to adequately address the notion of sustainability this integrative set of indicators is considered over longer periods of time. Thereby, aspects of an employment context (e.g., task, individual, job, and organisational characteristics) that either harm or protect an individual’s long term ability to function at work and in the labour market can be identified. In addition to and as a specific part of the sustainable employability research, inclusiveness and psychometrics in occupational health are main topics of interest.

Notable examples of fundamental research that was conducted as part of this research line include work on conceptualising and measuring sustainable employability, discussions on formative vs. reflective measurement models, and a study on age and time effects on sustainable employability. In a more applied sense, several field studies on sustainable employability have been conducted, among which one in Maastricht University itself.


  • Fred Zijlstra
  • Bram Fleuren

What helps leaders and employees to flourish at work? The interplay of leadership, personality dynamics, and mindfulness at work.

This research lines applies a variety of different designs and methods including experience sampling studies, randomised controlled trials, lab experiments and qualitative approaches, such as grounded theory. In one line of research, particular focus lies on the development of leaders, people with great responsibility and far-reaching impact. Do mindfulness practices improve leadership behaviour and leader-follower communication? We also try to better understand the dynamics of short-term personality expressions at work. We try to find out, for example, which daily events at work make people express the dark side of their personality and how daily expressions of positive personality influence people’s work behaviour.


  • Annika Nübold
  • Ute Hülsheger