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Benjamin Schneider

Professional Autobiography

SIOP President 1984-1985  (prepared 1989)

As a sophomore in college I was undecided about my major because I had interests in both business administration and psychology. The course I chose to take in psychology was titled "Applied Psychology." During the course the Professor, William Pulos, demonstrated some personnel selection tests that had been designed at Purdue - I remember it was the Purdue Pegboard - and I was hooked. He told me he would offer a course that summer in Industrial Psychology and I knew I would take it - and I did.

I did not give up my business courses but business became my minor and psychology my major. Thus, I took accounting, economics, finance, and so forth as well as personality theory, learning, and tests and measures. This combination of psychology and business courses was to serve me well because, at the beginning of my senior year my wife-to-be, Brenda, encouraged me to pursue possible graduate schools in Industrial Psychology. At the time, 1959, such programs were quite rare so I applied to some PhD Psychology programs as well as some MBA programs. After all, I was going to go into the Army because of my ROTC commitment and I was not at all sure I was cut out to be a Ph.D. in Psychology.

Much to my delight I was accepted into a new MBA program in Industrial Psychology just getting underway at the Baruch School of the City College of New York (then CCNY, now CUNY). The program, with such diverse faculty as Angelo Dispenzieri, Mortimer Feinberg, Benjamin Balinsky, and Sheldon Zalkind, seemed ideally suited to my needs. Thus, it was a night-time program (so I could earn some money to keep me in school), it had a good combination of theoretically and applied oriented faculty, it was both business and psychology, and admission to the program bought me a temporary deferment from active duty.

The MBA in Industrial Psychology

There was probably no other MBA program like it in the US at the time and there are probably few others even today. We had to take all of the typical MBA courses (Marketing, Banking and Finance, Business Law, and so forth) and a full program in psychology (including theories of psychology, research methods, statistics), as well as specialty courses in Industrial like Group Dynamics and Selection. In addition, a thesis was required and it had to be based on an original data collection effort. It was terrific.

I really came alive as an applied psychologist in this program. The level of instruction was very high and the requirements on students were tough but doable. Feinberg, with his very applied perspective, and Dispenzieri, the quintessential theoretician, both made you think and react and perform to your abilities. I remember vividly Feinberg giving a lecture on how the history of psychology influenced the applied world - I still give a similar lecture in my introductory courses. I also remember Dispenzieri challenging us to develop theory - he had us read Marx's book on theories in psychology as a textbook! It was in his course that I became aware of the theories of Deutsch, Festinger, Morganstern and Von Neumann, March and Simon, and so forth; he made us do book reports on these "new" authors in front of the class! I still do this, too.

But the Psychology courses were not the only good ones. In Marketing the study of consumer behavior was becoming important; in Banking and Finance, the post-World War II emergence of the home mortgage for everyone was a startling innovation; and, in Business Law, the effects of legal constraints on business was really quite interesting. I can look back on my research over the years and find studies connected to each of these issues so it is clear to me that these early contacts with the business literature were very valuable.

In my second year in the MBA program I switched from working part time to working full time. The job was really interesting and I was able to do my masters thesis on the people with whom I worked so I took advantage of this and literally got paid to work on the thesis. The job I had was with the Youth Employment Service (YES), set up by the State of New York to help find full time jobs for high school drop outs. I literally ran an employment office for these high school drop outs, first in the Greenwich Settlement House and then in the Police Athletic League (PAL) office on 14th street at Herald Square.

The thesis involved the design of a biographical information blank for predicting success as a messenger boy, a job on which I placed many youngsters after teaching them the New York City subway system and providing them with a cognitive map of the City. Since I was placing the youngsters I could follow them up for criterion data collection to see how long they lasted and, over the year, I collected my sample. Dispenzieri was my thesis advisor and, after writing the thesis nine times (most of the rewrites were to get rid of the words "I" and "we" as I recall) I do believe I received the first MBA in Industrial Psychology from the Baruch School.

I was not the only one of the Baruch students to obtain the MBA in Industrial and then go on to the Ph.D. in Psychology. Walter Reichmann, Joel Moses, and Eugene Schmuckler were all in the early group at Baruch. Although there were not many of us, quite a few went on to careers in various facets of I-O. 

This is the Army, Mr. Schneider

The one negative in obtaining the MBA was the Army. During my last year in the program I had decided that I did want to obtain the Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology; actually Brenda decided that I wanted to get it. I applied to a number of schools and was accepted at the University of Maryland. I thought the acceptance would be followed by a further deferment but 1962 was the build-up for the Berlin Wall and Uncle Sam called.

Fortunately I had applied for a branch transfer from the Infantry to the Adjutant Generals Corp. so military service for me was two years of administering tests to potential inductees (the days of the draft were very big then) and enlistees. In undergraduate school (Alfred University in New York) I was quite the soldier and had requested my commission in the Infantry with full expectations that I would go on to become an Airborne Ranger (I have heard Wayne Cascio actually did this). For my summer training in ROTC I had attended Fort Bragg North Carolina, the home of the 82nd Airborne, and been smitten by the action. I learned, much to my amazement, that I was an excellent shot with any rifle or handgun and could literally shoot the eyes out of a squirrel at considerable yardage.

Now there may not be many Jewish hunters but I'll bet there also have not been a slew of Jewish Airborne Rangers. But I had decided in High School that if it was not done by Jews I'd probably at least try it. So, I played on the baseball team in high school (I pitched a one-hitter once and still have the ball), I quarterbacked my college intramural football team (I could throw the ball 50 yards with some stuff on it), and Feinberg told me it would be very tough for a Jew to make it as an Industrial Psychologist because businesses would not hire me. So I went on for the Ph.D. with hopes of being an "executive consultant." I've always been one to rise to the challenge. Hell, Pulos, back in Alfred, told me I'd never amount to anything!

I think being Jewish has always presented challenges to me and I have usually been able to rise to that challenge. Sometimes others put the challenge out there for me and sometimes I put it our there for myself but I somehow am able to meet it - not all of the time but most of the time. It is not that I have these firm goals like Ed Locke says we need; I have this general goal of being able to rise to challenges.

My foray into this topic of rising to challenges is to note that one also needs to know when to not take the bait. I opted out of the Infantry and the Airborne Rangers because I knew in my MBA program that I was going to make Industrial Psychology and not the Army my career. Since I had no choice about serving in the Army, the question became what experience in the Army would do me the most good in the long run. The answer was to administer entrance examinations for people coming into the US defense forces, and this is what I did.

There is not a lot to report about the two years in St. Louis at the Armed Forces Entrance and Examining Station. Our son, Lee, was born in St. Louis and the Army covered all expenses for the physician and hospital. We call Lee our $25.00 baby because that was the cost of his birth to us. It was our first experience away from the East Coast and, as such was both enlightening and awakening. It was enlightening because we saw and experienced another style and life. It was awakening because we realized more about ourselves since some of our basic beliefs and values had never before come against significant alternatives in life style and, thus, had not been questioned.

Maryland had put the acceptance into the PhD program on hold for the two years in the Army so, in 1964, we set out for College Park and the PhD program.

Who are You Mr. Schneider?

I had learned in the Army to keep every piece of official paper they gave me and to keep a copy of anything I gave them. It was a good lesson. When I arrived at Maryland and told them who I was they asked me to repeat my name several times. To make a long story short they had no record of me or my pending arrival and no assistantship, either. Fortunately I had copies of all correspondence and they acknowledged that I was admitted but there was still no assistantship. In those days, students without assistantships carried 15 graduate hours, which was my first semester's course load. With no income, though, I also had to work and worked 30 hours per week while carrying the 15 credits. I received three A's and two B's that semester and I have rarely, if ever, had any subsequent sympathy for graduate student complaints about working too hard.

Jack Bartlett (Dr. Bartlett to me until I passed my doctoral orals), the Head of the Industrial program, really believed that they had made an error in letting me into the program and he was determined to show me that it was an error. I guess I again rose to the challenge because I had an assistantship the second and subsequent semesters. Jack (I mean Dr. Bartlett) turned out to be a wonderful mentor and friend but he sure made it tough in the early going. At one time, in Statistics, I remember we students trying to understand how such a sick mind ever became a professor; I wonder if they think the same of me!

I had a great Ph.D. program. I leaned more than I could ever imagine one person learning. I had great instructors; they were really into their work and they passed on this terrific enthusiasm for everything they tried to hammer into us. Lou Gollub and Roger McIntire made experimental psychology come amazingly alive and real. I still remember Roger talking about Head's research on heads! And Lou trying to convince us that Sidman was correct with an N of 1. Who could ever forget Nan Anderson teaching the analysis of variance, or Bill Battig's elegant touch with the history and theory of Psychology. I really loved it all.

I even loved studying for my comprehensive examinations. I loved it because it made the whole of Psychology seem to come together for me. In those days we took ten examinations: a major, a minor, and shorter exams in each of eight different areas of psychology. Do they still do this to graduate students? We don't, and more's the pity. I took exams in Physiological and Comparative, Developmental, Personality, Quant, Social, Tests and Measures, Industrial, and Experimental followed by the Industrial major and the Social minor exams.

My minor is an interesting story because all of the Industrial students but me were taking their minor in Quant. This was the norm because Jack (I mean Dr. Bartlett) and Emil Heerman had both been trained at Ohio State where Herbert Toops's grandfather formula and the Wherry-Doolittle method ruled the Industrial program. But I just never felt at home with centroids and deltoids (or whatever they were called) clearly empathizing more with attitude change and the small group. Quant was just one of those challenges I decided to avoid and Jack (I mean Dr. Bartlett) was good enough to support my decision.

I tell my students that studying for Comps is good for ten years of journal article writing because you are so knowledgeable after preparation for the exams it takes very little effort to stay current. But more importantly, I tell them the experience of studying for the exam is simply unique. Someone is paying you to just sit and immerse yourself in yourself and your future, an experience difficult to ever find the time to repeat.

I am convinced that my two programs, the MBA at Baruch and the Ph.D. at Maryland provided the kind of foundation I could build on for my post-graduate experience. Although I did not have a formal post-doc, I consider my first job after the Ph.D. to be the capstone experience that dictated my subsequent career.

Good Morning, Mr. Schneider

One would think that after obtaining the Ph.D. and taking an academic job someone would call you Dr. Schneider. I mean, I had to call Bartlett Dr. Bartlett until the day I passed my orals. But no, I had to get a job at Yale where they called all professors Mister.

But Yale was a great job offer - $10,000 per year with $1,000 for the summer, guaranteed. The job was in the Department of Administrative Sciences at Yale, where I had a few interesting colleagues. None of them ever amounted to very much but we did have a good time playing in the local New Haven basketball league and having T-groups to pass the time of day. Chris Argyris, Ed Lawler, Richard Hackman, Tim Hall, Roy Lewicki, Garret Wolf, Clay Alderfer - a few names I am able to dredge up out of the dim past.

Given this cast of characters it is clear why I think of my time with them as a kind of post-doc. This was my introduction to the world of Organizational (as compared to Industrial) Psychology. There wasn't a selection researcher in the group and I thought Industrial Psychology was selection. It was great. I worked most closely with Tim Hall and he taught me all about the MIT Sloan School view of organizational behavior and management. Holy cow! McGregor had taught at Sloan and Tim had worked with Ed Schein and Warren Bennis and had even published a paper with Dave Berlew.

And the others educated me, too. From Ed I learned the ways of VIE theory and how to work on seventeen articles and four books simultaneously. From Richard I absorbed the Illinois approach to research methodology - multimethod and systematic. From Gerrit, I learned what a stochastic process was and we co-taught research methods such that I actually learned some Quant.  Roy introduced me to the study of student unrest (it was the Vietnam era at Yale and other Ivy League schools like Columbia from whence Roy had come) and the ways models of people outside of the work setting can inform models of people in the work setting. And from Chris I learned how to write. He took everything I tried to write and turned it into readable material. I learned he could think as well as write. For example, once he asked me what kind of contribution personnel selection could make to organizational functioning and I have pursued the question ever since. In fact, this question asked by Chris sometime in 1968 or 1969 yielded a paper of mine 20 years later called "The People Make the Place."

It is important to also note that some of the graduate students at Yale with whom I interacted and worked also left an impact on me. The old maxim that "you shall learn from your students" was certainly true there. Greg Oldham, Lloyd Suttle, John Wanous, Bill Torbert, Bob Duncan - all were students at the time and all have gone on to have fruitful careers of their own.

The Early Research Agenda

My research program in organizational climate began at Maryland and took shape at Yale. At Maryland I worked with Jack Bartlett on my dissertation, a study of the influence of life insurance agency climate on test validity. The topic came out of a course Jack taught in personnel selection. In the course I was struck by the idea that selection researchers implicitly assume that individual attributes are the sole cause of behavior at work. My goal was to integrate ecological thinking with this assumption and to identify ways of combining the personal and the situational. A 1966 Annual Review paper by Lyman Porter was important to me in that he made the argument that the more traditional individual differences and the then-new organizational foci could be combined to produce a viable study of behavior at work.

Jack and I wrote up the idea for the James McKeen Cattell (now Ghiselli) Award and we won it leading the folks at the Life Insurance Agency Management Association (LIAMA, now LIMRA) to support the research. Rains Wallace and Paul Thayer not only provided some money for the effort but they really liked the ideas - and not everyone did like the ideas. Ernie Primhoff at the Civil Service Commission (now OPM) thought it was strange to suggest that situational attributes might moderate test validity and other companies approached for support kind of looked askance at my youthfulness and crazy ideas. Rains and Paul bought in and made the contacts necessary to pursue the work. Indeed LIAMA also bought off a semester of my time, after I began teaching at Yale, to continue the work. I've forever been grateful and appreciative of this early financial and psychological support for my thinking.

Climate research at the time was very new. Some people like McGregor had used the term, Litwin and Stringer were getting into the topic at Harvard, and Forehand and Gilmer's early Psychological Bulletin review was having some impact; a number of us around the country independently entered the fray. John Slocum and Don Hellriegel as well as Larry James and Alan Jones began research programs in the late 1960s that are still alive and well. At Yale, Tim Hall and I worked together on the work climate of parish priests and it was this experience working with Tim that taught me about the intervention potential in simply studying organizational phenomena. Chris Argyris served as a kind of sounding board for us in this study of priests and each time we got into a bit of hot water he made himself available for consultations. I remember one time in particular when Tim and I had put ourselves in the position of taking sides with some of the priests regarding their political power in the Archdiocese. Upon realizing the problem we had created, we went to Chris for extrication help, which he provided.

I learned five things from working on this climate project. First, Tim sure knew a lot more than I did about the ways organizations function. Second, climate was assessable if you understood the issues of the organization in which the assessment took place. Third, there were a bunch of conceptual problems requiring attention in climate research, especially the levels of analysis problem. Fourth, it is useful to have a more experienced person around when conducting a large organizationally sensitive project. Fifth, all organizational projects should be viewed as being sensitive.

The levels of analysis problem we identified in the priest study has concerned me since then. In this project I realized that we were assessing the work climate perceptions of individual priests and then using those assessments to say something about the Archdiocese as a whole. This inconsistency between the individual level of the data and analysis, and the level of generalization, the Archdiocese, was not one we solved in the project but it lead to a series of conceptual papers and studies I have since continued to pursue.

Indeed, an entire stream of research that required levels of analysis issues to be addressed began on another project  while I was at Yale. This project, which resulted in all of my subsequent research and writing on service and the climate for service, was driven by necessity and friendship, not scholarly pursuits. The necessity was the need for money and the friendship was for another young starving assistant professor, Matt Sobel. The money issue was actually getting fairly serious because Brenda and I had our second child, Rhody, just before leaving for Yale and then, midway through the first year at Yale, we had purchased a home in Hamden. While the starting salary at Yale had not been bad, subsequent increases left much to be desired, especially in the way of desiring more money.

Matt and his wife (Connie) and children (Richard and Elizabeth) and Brenda and I and our kids had really become very good friends and he was also in need of cash. His field was operations research (OR) not unusual in the Department of Administrative Sciences since in those days half was behavioral and half OR. While this lead to fairly significant constant tension it was no more so than the kind of tension that exists in a Psychology Department between the Experimental and the Clinical faculty. In fact, some of the faculty in the two areas worked quite regularly together, especially Matt and Gerritt Wolf (and they work together to this day at SUNY, Stony Brook).

Matt and I decided to do something together and we realized that his interests in tochastic processes and my interests in climate could be combined by studying bank customers. The logic was that Matt would study the flow of customers in and out of branch banks to establish guidelines for staffing policies and I would question customers about the climate for service they experienced in the bank and correlate this with how long they had actually been in the bank. Since we wanted to be able to control customer responses for everything but the time they spent in the bank, I also had to collect data on other facets of their service experience, these latter data to serve as covariates on the effects of time in the bank.

We sent off a proposal to The Chase Manhattan Bank to study customer satisfaction and waiting time and, within six weeks, we heard back from then and they bought the project. We were, needless to say, ecstatic and over the next year and one-half we conducted the research. In none of the writings on this effort have Matt or I ever told the truth about carrying out the project. The truth is that it was terrible. In order to collect some of the basic data for this effort, Matt and I had to stand outside branches in the middle of the winter to track how long customers stayed inside a branch. Then I would interview customers as they departed, frequently accompanying them on the Subway and conducting the interview there. Both Matt and I bought special quilted Long Johns for this project and we nearly froze in the outskirts of Brooklyn and Queens to collect the data. The only good thing about the project was lunch; the food in New York City was terrific and we became experts in the Pizza of the different boroughs.

I learned some valuable lessons in this project too. First, you can eat well and still do good research. Second, having someone with an alternative perspective on organizations as a colleague can contribute rich sources of new hypotheses for your own work. Third, through piloting surveys you can develop a very effective survey that contains very few questions. Finally, perhaps the most significant lesson I learned is that there are many good reasons for doing research, necessity and friendship being two of them, and these reasons can yield interesting consequences. In fact I was really excited by some of the hypotheses this research stimulated and this one project, Long Johns and all, resulted in an entire program of research, a program 20 years old at this writing and having yielded some 15 articles and papers.

But nirvana never lasts. A bunch of us left Yale at about the same time. Things became somewhat uncomfortable in the Department with Yale never really feeling comfortable with something that outsiders saw as a kind of Business School. The fact that the OB and OR programs were two of the best of their kind in the country seemed somewhat irrelevant at times and University politics kept some good people from getting promoted. When Maryland asked if I would return as an Associate Professor, Brenda and I figured it was the smart thing to do. Simultaneous with us leaving, Chris Argyris (to Harvard), Tim Hall (to York), and Ed Lawler (to Michigan) also left.

Those of us who were at Yale in the OB program at the time (both faculty and students) still frequently get together at the Academy of Management meetings for dinner. A few years ago when the Academy meetings were in Boston, Chris invited us all over for a terrific reunion dinner. Yale in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a special time in a special place - some even refer to it as Camelot.

As I noted above, my exposure to these folks at Yale rounded out my education and served as the springboard for much of my research and thinking. These people left a powerful influence on me - they were bright, doing interesting work, anxious to learn, and able to have a good time. I'm sure Hackman still has never learned to throw a dart but he and I could have the weirdest research discussions while I was beating him.

The Return to Maryland

We sadly sold our house in Hamden (we had put a tremendous amount of effort into fixing it up) and left for Bethesda in Maryland. We bought a more expensive house than we probably should have but subsequent experience has taught us to always buy a little bit more than you think you can afford. As long as you follow the three rules for home-buying you will make out alright - location, location, location.

Brenda and I have been movers, if not shakers. Some of our relatives claim they buy new address books because they have no more room under "S" because of our moves. Counting the Army we have lived at 14 different addresses since we were married: The Bronx, Indianapolis, IN, St. Louis, MO, Brentwood, MO, Adelphi, MD, Greenbelt, MD, Guilford, CT, Hamden, CT, Bethesda, MD, Ramat Hasharon (Israel), Bethesda, MD, Okemos, MI, Okemos, MI (two different homes in Okemos), and Bethesda, MD.

Notice in this that we seem to keep reappearing in Maryland. Indeed after our move to Michigan (to be described later) and our return again to Maryland, Jack told people that he kept sending me out every now and then for seasoning and reprogramming!

People had warned me about moving back to Maryland - you know, "you can never return to where you were as a student." Near as I can tell, all those people were wrong. The people at Maryland never ever raised issues related to me being a student. Indeed, Jack, Irv (Goldstein) and Peter (Dachler) were terrifically supportive and they asked me to head up the I-O area immediately, which I accepted. I settled in quickly and well because the Department of Psychology at Maryland is a very special kind of place. I like to tell people it is not a snake pit like I have heard other places can be. I am not so naive to think that my more experimentally oriented colleagues love me being in I-O but they do seem to at least accept the utility of having a multifaceted Department.

Jack and then Irv as Chairs have helped the faculty to create a supportive, trusting, mutually respecting climate in the Department. They have done this by being consistently equitable, by having clear guidelines for the priorities of the Department (for example, assistant professors come first so far as research support is concerned), and by generally asking how they can help make things happen rather than responding that such and such is not possible. Perhaps the most significant guideline under which Jack and Irv operate as Chairs is that Chairs are there to protect faculty from the University because the University can protect itself.

My research program after returning to Maryland was very successful, much of it supported by the office of Naval Research in a series of grants (technically, contracts). It is a travesty of logic that the ONR program that supported so much of I-O and OB research is no longer functioning. ONR had supported all of the following and hundreds more over the years: Fred Fiedler, Bernie Bass, Marv Dunnette, Dan Ilgen, Larry Cummings, Richard Hackman, John Campbell, Ernie McCormick, and so forth. That politics killed the program for supporting I-O and OB work still leaves me furious. And, as I understand it, it was the worst kind of politics that killed our support - someone who was not an I-O or OB type casting aspersion on the non-scientific nature of I-O and OB research. That would be like me telling NSF that they should stop supporting basic psychology because it was not applied enough!

Let me make it very clear here that the program at ONR, especially Bert King's role in it over the years, was invaluable to the growth and development of what we now know as contemporary I-O and OB.

I conducted studies on turnover (and the climates for turnover), the climates for work facilitation, ability by situation interactions in the prediction of performance, and socialization to work (while at Michigan State), all supported by ONR. I was also lucky to have support from a number of private companies in carrying out my research program, especially from J. C. Penney Co. (Steve Temlock) and Citicorp (Daniel Q. Kelly).  Dan has supported my research for fifteen years at this writing. He has my admiration for not only supporting me psychologically and financially but for putting up with my grandiose proposals for research. Dan funded innumerable research projects that have resulted directly or indirectly in at least 12 articles and book chapters, a number of dissertations and M.A. theses and, perhaps most importantly, he has encouraged student participation as my staff in all of this work. He, more than anyone else, helped me along in my thinking and research on service.

One other great experience during the time at Maryland was the Fulbright to Israel at Bar-Ilan University (1973-1974). My Godfather, Lyman Porter, helped this happen and the story, lengthy as it is, is worth telling.

In my graduate program, Jack used to invite in colloquium speakers and, in 1966, Port was spending a year with Ed Lawler at Yale so Jack invited him down for a presentation. I was Port's chauffeur during his stay in College Park and we got to chatting about this and that and whatever. Port expressed interest in my work and, lo and behold, a year later I got to interview at Yale and get a job offer. Well, I kept Port informed about my different research activities and, because Jack encouraged it, I became active in Division 14. Port was always at the meetings and we kept running into each other and I even began doing some research to follow on Port's early studies on the Maslow hierarchy.

When I returned to Maryland I became interested in a way to make a sabbatical happen because I left Yale after four years and the sabbatical clock was begun anew. Enter Mr. Fulbright. I applied for one and asked Port if he would be one of my referees; he agreed and asked where I was applying. I told him Bar-Ilan University in Israel and he laughed. He laughed because the head of the I-O program at Bar-Ilan, Mordechai Eran, had been Port's student at Berkeley! I got the Fulbright.

Bar-Ilan itself was very interesting and I wrote my Staffing Organizations book while there on the Fulbright. In terms of life experiences the year was astounding because we were there during the Yom Kippur war. Classes at Bar-Ilan were obviously put on hold during the war (October 1973) and, while things in Israel never got as bad as the papers in the States made it sound, we did have some harrowing experiences. But the spirit of the country, the energy to succeed, and the physical geography were all intermixed into a wondrous excitement. Lee and Rhody attended public school in Ramat Hasharon (where we lived) and within six months they were doing almost all work at grade level in Hebrew; they barely knew any Hebrew when we landed.

The year after returning from Israel I was promoted to Full Professor and other schools started calling me on a fairly regular basis. I was generally uninterested in moving until I began to hear the salaries that were being bandied about-especially in Business Schools. Even then (the mid to late 1970s) salary differentials were significant between Psychology and Business. By the late 1970s, salaries had not kept pace with the cost of living in Maryland and I began to listen a bit more. John Wanous visited with Brenda and me in the Spring of 1978 and asked if I might be interested in applying for a chaired professorship at Michigan State University. 

To make a long story short, I applied for the job, was offered the job, and we were off to Michigan State. The John A. Hannah Chair (as it was called) was certainly attractive. It provided an immediate one-third increase in my salary, plus two research assistants, one secretary, and money with which to travel as I deemed appropriate. In addition, the appointment was both in Business and Psychology so I had the opportunity to work in a business school for the first time since receiving the MBA. 

I learned a number of important lessons during the three years we stayed at MSU:

  • Having a chaired professorship can be both wonderful and exhausting. It can be wonderful because it includes so many amenities; it can be exhausting when you try to split your time between psychology and business and actually end up doing two full-time jobs.
  • Business schools can be daunting places for behavioral scientists who attempt to make changes in the Economics course requirements for a PhD in business. I tried to reduce the Economics courses required for OB students and ended up increasing them!
  • Once you have had a chaired professorship you don't need another one. By this I mean that the chaired professorship was very good for me and the way I functioned on a day-to-day basis but it was unnecessary for me in the long run. It did not change the questions on which I worked, the amount of time I spent working with graduate students, nor any of my consulting and scholarly activities. It was an interesting experience and one I wish for all but it did not have for me any magic which I deemed a necessity for my future. 

It is fortunate that I had this reaction to the MSU chair; had I needed the Chaired professorship I could not have left it to return to Maryland after only three years. I left because Michigan was not good for me for the long run. I missed too many east coast things, like the Washington Post and being able to get on an airplane and get to where I wanted to be in relatively quick fashion. What sealed the deal to return to Maryland was a trip we took east in March one year - in Michigan it was still gloomy Winter and in Maryland it was glorious spring. In some sense that captured other feelings we were having and they offered me my old job back and we took it.

The Return to Maryland

Things became very exciting for me professionally after I returned to Maryland. Marketing scholars were beginning to pick up on some work I had done in the late 1970s and early 1980s regarding customer service in banks. In this work I had used customer reports of service as a criterion for employee climate perceptions and shown that the two were related across units (bank branches). Marketing was entering a phase that has come to be called the age of Services Marketing and my work seemed to capture for them the importance of the service delivery unit (person, group, branch, and so forth) in customer perceptions of service quality. I became active in the American Marketing Association and began receiving invitations to marketing conferences both here and in Europe. I have continued this line of research to the present time, including some projects concerning organization change and the qualitative analysis of employee views for the climate of their work place with respect to service and service quality.

I also became increasingly active in Division 14, first as a member-at-large to the Executive Committee and then as President (1984-85). As a member-at-large I was intimately involved in decisions and actions to incorporate Division 14 as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc. (currently known as SIOP). I felt it was important to take this step so that if relationships with APA deteriorated further, we would have legal standing as an independent entity. This decision to become SIOP has stood us in good stead for it has served as a symbol both to us and others of our commitment to each other and to our field.

Other activities in which I was involved served to validate this identity. During my tenure on the Executive Committee we established Richard Campbell's idea of the Frontiers Series (published by Jossey-Bass), held our first annual conference under Irv Goldstein's guidance (Chicago, 1986), published a casebook on ethical standards for I-O psychology (by Rodney Lowman), and established an office for the Society at the University of Maryland. These actions served to further validate our status as an identifiable profession, especially for ourselves!

In addition to my activities in SIOP, I also served as President of the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management (1983-84). This was an interesting prelude to the Presidency of SIOP but, because of the relative lack of political issues in the Academy, the OB division presidency is minor compared to the activities and issues at SIOP.

The services research and the presidency of my two major professional societies have served as highlights of the recent past for me. The third leg of my professional status is my consulting and here, too, the recent past has been kind. Irv Goldstein and I have formed Organizational and Personnel Research, Inc. (OPR) and we, fortunately, have been very busy. Through OPR I have continued by services and climate research and Irv has accomplished the establishment of himself as a leading expert in EEO employment issues. While we each have our special interests, we work together, too. In fact, on one project, we have worked so interdependently as to further solidify our friendship and admiration for each others' professional and technical competence.

It is important to note that I make absolutely no distinction between my consulting and my research; I am lucky that people are willing to pay me to do what I would do in any case. I support graduate students through my consulting and organizations with which I work provide money to support graduate student and faculty research and travel to conferences and conventions. I know I am not alone in carrying out this duality on consulting but I am pleased it has worked out this way!

A key contributor to this good fortune, besides Dan Kelly whom I described earlier, has been Patrick E. Wilson of GEICO. Since my return to Maryland Pat, like Dan, has provided me and my students with major financial support for research and application. We have completed projects on: part-time vs. full-time employee attitudes; the design, development and implementation of numerous simulations and the validation of an assessment center for promotion to first-line supervision; the development of a new procedure for evaluating the content validity of training programs; the different ways by which newcomers gather information and the relative effectiveness of those strategies; the degree to which supervisory work facilitation results in increased unit sales; the organizational implications of the implementation of a new selection process for front-line workers; and, the ways by which different forms of organizational commitment may be reflected in individual outcomes. Each of the projects described has been either an M.A. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation and many of the projects have been published. In addition, Pat has made moneys available to the I-O program as partial payment for some of this (and other) work, such moneys proving invaluable for the support of research and travel to conferences and conventions for graduate students. He may not know it but we also carpeted some faculty offices!

Pat and Dan have helped me develop and implement a model by which research and consulting can profitably go hand-in-hand, a model I think is useful for all concerned.

Some Concluding Thoughts

I have been remarkably lucky in all facets of my professional and personal life. Professionally I have been in the right places at the right times and been able to capitalize on the opportunities those times and places presented. Personally I was in the right place and right time to find Brenda and I capitalized on that opportunity, too! A hint of what Brenda has meant for my accomplishments was noted earlier when I indicated that she was the push to graduate school in the first place. Ever since she has continued to help me see what I might accomplish and has been a true source of motivation and support for the things I've tried. Our children (now adults), Lee and Rhody, have been a constant source of wonder to me - they are creative and kind, don't take me too seriously, and have understood my commitment to my work and writing such that they have been great facilitators of the things I have accomplished.

My experiences with and in SIOP over the years have been a highlight of my joy at choosing this field as my profession. The people are interesting, smart, committed to their work, and so diverse in their interests as to make the field a wonderful potpourri of work and psychology issues. The breadth of topics we encompass in I-O is breathtaking - and I love it. I have done work in areas as diverse as selection and climate and am fixing to now do some on strategic management and profitability - and no one cares because it is all in I-O! Perhaps I can best sum up my feelings about my professional life to date by indicating that it has been an unending dessert table baked by Brenda. Those who know her will know how good I feel.

University of Maryland at College Park

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