RNLI lifeboat crew in a boat on the water

Individual, occupational and organisational performance research

Explore our work in individual, occupational and organisational performance research, 1 of our areas of expertise in the Sport and Exercise Science research area

Our internationally-recognised research in individual, occupational and organisational performance aims to evaluate and enhance working environments and operational conditions, to improve performance and organisational structures.

We've developed several legally defensible Physical Employment Standards for organisations such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, the oil and gas industry, and the Royal Air Force. These standards ensure that recruitment and retention of employees is based solely on the requirement to do the job. 

Our research has also led to global changes in sport. Our work has resulted in the introduction of red cards in cricket, the development of elite referee training in the English Premier League, and understanding of the effects of match official abuse across sports and countries on match official recruitment and retention.

Our work in organisational psychology has also advanced our understanding of employee emotions and attitudes, stress and well-being, organisational behaviour, and high performance environments.

Our research covers the following topics


  • Physical Employment Standards

We develop legally defensible physical employment standards for organisations such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, the Oil and Gas Industry and Royal Air Force, thus ensuring recruitment and retention of employees and volunteers is gender and age free. 


  • Organisational Psychology

Our research has been instrumental in implementing global changes to the education, training, and delivery of sport and performance psychology to better support a duty of care to athletes, coaches, and support staff in elite sport organisations. Our research also explores the mental states of performers across a range of sports, and particularly, why some athletes thrive under pressure and why some underperform.


  • Referee and Match Official Research

The three main themes of this research are working environment and operational conditions for match officials, development and performance across organisational and societal cultures and the leadership, management and coordination of match officials. Research in this area has led to worldwide changes to the laws of cricket through the introduction of red cards and an understanding of match official abuse across sport.


Research methods and facilities

We use quantitative research methods such as experiments, difference testing, regressions and structural equation models to measure causal effects on the variables of interest. We also use survey design and implementation. Qualitative research techniques include ethnography, grounded theory and the use of interviews to gather data.

We also use internationally-renowned facilities. The Extreme Environments Laboratory (EEL) consists of three environmental chambers with control of climatic conditions (temperature and humidity), a hypoxic generator for control of oxygen levels, and lights for simulating solar radiation. EEL houses a swimming flume, a water immersion tank and extensive equipment for monitoring physiological responses to environmental stressors.

Funders and collaborations

We work closely with leading institutions around the world, including the University of South Australia, Blaise Pascal University (France), University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain), Swansea University, the University of East Anglia and Loughborough University. Our work is regularly funded by major international organisations such as the Energy Institute, the International Netball Federation, the Royal Air Force (RAF), and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Project highlights

Publication highlights

Discover our areas of expertise

Individual, occupational and organisational performance is 1 of 3 areas of expertise within our Sport and Exercise Science research area – explore the others below.

Extreme environments

We investigate the physiological and psychological responses to some of the harshest environments on Earth, and our research informs the selection, preparation and protection of individuals required to perform in these conditions.

Find out more

Physical Activity, Health and Rehabilitation

We're investigating ways to increase physical activity, how to rehabilitate individuals from conditions that prevent them from being active, and exploring the positive benefits of physical activity in a variety of clinical and non-clinical contexts.

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Interested in a PhD in Sport & Exercise Science?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Sport & Exercise Science postgraduate research degrees page.