Matthijs Bal


Matthijs Bal is Reader at the School of Management, University of Bath in the United Kingdom. Prior to joining Bath, he was affiliated to VU University Amsterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam.  He obtained his PhD cum laude in Business Administration at the VU University Amsterdam in 2009, on a research on the role of psychological contracts among older workers in retaining motivation and performance at work. During his early academic career, Matthijs developed an interest in the role of fiction at work, and more particularly in how reading fiction may influence employees’ work attitudes and behaviors. Developing from an interest in the work of Russian authors such as Dostojevski and Gogol, his main thesis is that fiction offers insights about life and work that study books cannot deliver. After a first conceptual exploration on the potential role of fiction reading in work behaviors, published in Review of General Psychology in 2011, he conducted experimental research with his friend and social psychologist Martijn Veltkamp, in which they showed how fiction reading may enhance empathic skills among readers, but only under conditions of transportation into a story. This research was published in PLOS One in 2013. The only logical next step would be to empirically test whether fiction reading actually may affect people in how they experience their work and careers. The Find it in Fiction project offers the possibility to conduct this research, in close collaboration with PhD Student Inge Brokerhof and the other members of the project team. Matthijs Bal’s publications can be found on his website.

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