Alongside a highly productive and successful academic career, Robert was influential in the organisation of psychology and, in particular, made a major contribution to two leading European psychology organisations. He was one of the initiators in the European Network of Work and Organisational Psychologists (ENOP) and of the European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology (Nijmegen 1993). In 1991 he became the founding President of the European Association for Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) and for the following 25 years remained very active and productive in that organisation and in the development of that field across Europe. More recently, Robert was elected President of the European Federation of Psychologists Associations (EFPA) in 2009 and served for six years in that role. He brought to EFPA the benefit of his long experience in European psychology, and in leadership of organisations.
He also brought a deep understanding of the nature of EFPA and its challenges, having served regularly as a delegate of the Netherlands Psychology Association (NIP) since EFPA’s early days in the late 1980s.
Robert understood what was needed by EFPA in order to move to the next stage in its development. Having been involved in the EuroPsy project* from its start in 1997, he saw that the acceptance of a common standard of education and training for psychologists across European countries was strategically important and could serve as a powerful tool for EFPA, both internally and in its negotiations with the European Commission. The EuroPsy project benefitted significantly from Robert's experience, his expertise in work and organisational psychology and his deep commitment to the goal. He led EFPA with vision, passion and deep conviction and insight. He worked tirelessly with the different bodies of EFPA, forged links with other European psychology associations, and was often to be found in the EFPA office in Brussels where he worked closely with the staff to ensure that EFPA was efficient, effective and influential.
Vision, honour and friendship
Robert was a man of vision and purpose, integrity and honour, intellectual curiosity, generosity, warmth and friendship. He had a deep love of classical music, a love shared with his wife Marika, and a major reason for their decision to move to Leipzig where they could enjoy the music, particularly of J.S. Bach, and the other musical events of that wonderful city. Sadly his life was cut short by his diagnosis with cancer a year ago. He tackled his diagnosis and illness as a project to be dealt with, and although there were hopes last year of recovery following extensive treatment, Robert’s health deteriorated quickly in the early weeks of 2016.
The community of European psychologists and psychology has lost a friend and leader and there are hundreds of individuals across Europe who mourn his loss. Our thoughts are with Marika and with Robert’s children at this sad time.
* See Lunt I., Peiró J.M., Poortinga Y.H., Roe R. (2015) EuroPsy Standards ad Quality in Education for Psychologists, Hogrefe.