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International Practice Forum

Alex Alonso, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Mo Wang, University of Florida

In late 2012 we learned that our trade publication, The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (TIP), was going to a strictly online format. This meant that eventually we would hit an issue (this issue, in fact) that would be the last in print. This transition to electronic-only formats—although common among numerous publications—is special for us I-Os because it marks the end of that special moment every quarter where you open your mailbox and find that plastic-wrapped bundle of I-O magic. For every columnist, the loss of this spurs moments of reflection. For instance, in my case (Alex) I harken back to a time when I received my first TIP in the mail while living in the sometimes foreign land we call “Miami.” I also reminisce on the whirlwind events that led to the birth of the International Practice Forum starting with the dawn of the International Affairs Committee (IAC), followed by the linking of hundreds using the IAC wiki page, and extended by lessons learned across the globe in this very forum. For my co-columnist (Mo), this momentous change led to additional looking back to the time he had to manually fill out 20+ application packages to graduate school and mailed them from China to the U.S. (the postage cost him a fortune at that time for those heavy packets).

All the reminiscing got us to thinking—why not look back at the events that have led to a global I-O community, especially when there was no Internet? Specifically, we wondered when I-O went from being split camps of “work and occupational psychologists” or “industrial-organizational psychologists” or “psicologos laboral” to a worldwide community of work, industrial, and organizational psychologists. In fact, countless steps gave rise to the birth of the Alliance for Organizational Psychology in 2011. We recognized that to answer our central question, we needed a deeper historical perspective. We began by asking ourselves who had the best understanding of the historical global linking of I-O psychologists. Although there were many candidates, we were fortunate to have a team offering the best of both worlds in historical perspective and truly global accounts. In this column, Milt Hakel and C. J. de Wolff will provide a joint look at the events that have led to a burgeoning global I-O community.

Our contributors are an academician and a practitioner, both with extensive experience in linking communities of I-O psychologists. Milton D. Hakel (aka Milt) is the Ohio Board of Regents Eminent Scholar in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio. He received his PhD in Psychology in 1966 from the University of Minnesota, and served on the faculties at Minnesota, Ohio State, and Houston before moving to BGSU in 1991. Dr. Hakel began his career with research on selection interviewing practices with support from the National Science Foundation. Research support has also come from the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Army, as well as the private sector. He is a former Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Scholar in Italy (1978) and completed 6 years as a member and 2 years as chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Applied Psychology. Dr. Hakel currently serves as the president of the Alliance for Organizational Psychology. His major current interest is the role of formative assessment in learning and performance. He is a winner of the James McKeen Cattell Award for excellence in research design from SIOP. He served as SIOP’s president in 1983–84. He is a fellow of SIOP, the Association for Psychological Science, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Joining Milt as a contributor is Dr. Charles J. de Wolff (aka C. J.). Dr. de Wolff is a long-time contributor to the practice and study of work psychology. He has written or edited more than 150 published works including The Handbook of Work Psychology and The Handbook of Work and Organizational Psychology. His collective works have been published in Personnel Psychology and the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. In addition to his published works, Dr. de Wolff has served on numerous taskforces and committees exploring the linking of lessons learned across various European work psychology communities. He is a recognized expert in the practice of work psychology and the translation of science into practice for organizational effectiveness.

Together, Milt and C. J. will be reviewing the genesis of globalization in work, industrial, and organizational psychology. They will take us down memory lane with the goal of highlighting a few moments where I-O psychology went from an amalgamation of numerous local and national communities of practice to an international community of researchers and practitioners. To use an analogy borrowed from the sports world, Milt and C. J. will relive the moments where I-O psychology went from a national sport to an Olympic sport.

Associating and Linking WIO Psychologists

Milt Hakel and C. J. de Wolff

The past 50 years witnessed the beginnings of global linking by work, industrial, and organizational psychologists.  That, in our view, is the most important professional development occurring during the decades in which TIP has been printed. Now on the verge of TIP going “electronic,” we want to recount a few of the key steps that brought us to this point.

IAAP

When TIP readers of our generation think of international perspectives on the field, we think first of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). It was founded in 1920, and indeed there were many European developments in our field up to 1933, but that ceased entirely with World War II. It was not until the International Congress of Applied Psychology, held in Munich in 1978, that the Division of Work and Organizational Psychology was founded. Before that, there was no easy way for organizational psychologists to associate with each other at international congresses or to make contact with psychologists in other countries.

Informal Linkages

During that same era, individual and small group linkages were beginning to take form. In 1973, Rains Wallace became the editor of Personnel Psychology. As editor, he could invite articles, and knowing that most industrial psychologists in the U.S. knew little or nothing about practices in Europe, he invited one of us (C. J. de Wolff) to write a review. That seemed like a good idea but impossible for one person to do, given the reality of 20 countries and more than 20 languages. Some in Europe felt they knew more about developments in the U.S. than what was happening in neighboring countries. It was decided to convene a group to take on the task, funding was sought and received, and in 1974 the group met for the first time at Castricum, The Netherlands. Joining de Wolff were Sylvia Shimmin (UK), Maurice de Montmollin (France), Enzo Spaltro (Italy), Göran Ekvall (Sweden), Heinz-Ludwig Horney (Germany), Marian DobrzyÅ„sky (Poland), and the new editor of Personnel Psychology (i.e., Milt Hakel, replacing Wallace after his death). After several working meetings the group published the review in Personnel Psychology (de Wolff & Shimmin, 1976), and then it produced a monograph (de Wolff, Shimmin, & de Montmollin, 1980).
A 1975 working meeting in Columbus, Ohio was immediately followed by a joint meeting with members of the Summit Group, one of several informal discussion groups that were active at the time (Summit is still going, now in its 45th year). Coming from these meetings was the realization that there is so very much we need to learn from each other.

ENOP and EAWOP

The organization and norms of the Summit Group provided some precedent and inspiration for the 1980 founding of the European Network of Organizational Psychologists (ENOP), an informal discussion group that in 2011 included 23 professors of work and organizational psychology.

ENOP’s success in turn contributed to the founding in 1991 of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP), now comprising 1,250 individual members combined with a federation of 24 national constituent societies. EAWOP facilitates research and practice in the field of work and organizational psychology through its biannual conference, journals, summer schools, small group meetings, and workshops. 

The Alliance for Organizational Psychology

Most recently the Alliance for Organizational Psychology was founded as a way of linking WIO associations and their members.  Founded by Division 1, EAWOP, and SIOP, the Alliance intends to become a global federation that supplements rather than duplicates the activities and services of its federated society members. The Alliance will have no dues for individuals, but rather individuals will be able to use its services and resources by virtue of their memberships in its federated societies. It will hold no congresses of its own, but rather it will try to bring international perspectives to the meetings of its federated societies. Both the SIOP Conference in Houston and the EAWOP Congress in Munster, Germany will feature program events originated in Alliance consultations.

To be sure, there have been many international collaborative efforts in the past 5 decades, for example, the GLOBE project (House et al., 2004) and the assessment center congresses, to name just two. We wrote about these particular events because they illustrate so well what can happen when associations and links get created, that is, when social networks begin to function. Now with Internet connectivity expanding so rapidly, it is exciting to imagine the future growth of our field and the availability of its knowledge and know-how to the entire world.

See You Next Time!

We leave you with this parting thought by Norman Cousins, acclaimed political journalist, author, and world peace advocate: “The old emphasis upon superficial differences that separate peoples must give way to education for citizenship in the human community.” As Milt and C. J. detailed in their contribution, this “education” has been underway in the I-O community for more than 50 years. However, it is incumbent upon us as citizens of this community to ensure that this mutual education never ceases. Until next time goodbye, doe-doei, zaijian and adios!

WE NEED YOU AND YOUR INPUT! We are calling upon you, the global I-O community, to reach out and give us your thoughts on the next topic: environmental sustainability. Give us your insights from lessons learned in your practice. We are always looking from contributors and we will be on the lookout. To provide any feedback or insights, please reach us by email at the following addresses: mo.wang@warrington.ufl.edu and alexander.alonso@shrm.org.

References

Cousins, N. (n.d.). A quote on linking global communities. Retrieved January 20, 2013 from http://www.betterworld.net/quotes/community-quotes.htm.
de Wolff, C. J., & Shimmin, S. (1976). The psychology of work in Europe: A review of a profession. Personnel Psychology, 29, 175–196.
de Wolff, C. J., Shimmin, S., & de Montmollin, M. (1980). Conflicts and contradictions: Work psychologists in Europe. New York: Academic Press.
House, Robert J., et al., eds. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. London: SAGE.