Trends in SIOP Membership, Graduate Education and Member Satisfaction
Rob Silzer , HR Assessment and Development Inc./ Baruch College, City University of New York
Chad Parson, Baruch College, City University of New York
In honor of the long history of TIP and the impending transition to an electronic version of TIP, we have outlined some historical trends in SIOP membership, graduate education, and member satisfaction as they have been reported in TIP over the last 25+ years. We searched 25 years of past TIP issues and also collected some historical data from the SIOP Administrative office.
After our TIP search we focused on four content areas:
• SIOP membership
• Primary work setting for SIOP members
• Graduate programs and degrees
• Member satisfaction with SIOP
In each area we looked for variables that we could compare across time. This was more challenging than we expected because in most cases there has not been a systematic collection of data on same variables over time. We made an effort to match variables where possible that were reasonably similar. In some cases we found that same variables reported in different TIP articles, while in other cases we used cross sectional data (such as data from the 2011 membership database sorted by members who graduated in different decades). We also appreciate the help of Dave Nershi and the SIOP Administrative Office staff for supplying useful historical data.
SIOP Membership Over Time
While there has been interest in SIOP about the number of SIOP members, we found that this information was not typically shared with the membership. Table 1 reports the number of full members and Fellows over the last 32 years.
Full Members and Fellows
There has been a steady increase in membership numbers since the 1970s, although during any one year there are predictable ups and downs in membership. Membership renewals are typically due in June and the membership drops somewhat in the months following June but then typically swings up each winter as members renew their membership in advance of the SIOP conference (where SIOP offers members a reduced conference registration rate).
In the 1970s, full members increased by 56% and in the 1980s by 104%. But then in the 1990s there was only an 8% increase. This slower growth is worth noting, particularly because there was an economic boom in the U.S. in the 1990s. In the 2000s there was a 36% increase in full members. But in the last few years there seems to be slight decreases in the number of full members. Is this an early trend for the decade? Is there any concern among the SIOP leadership, and what steps are being taken to address this trend?
What is striking is that the number of Fellows in SIOP in 2012 is practically the same as the number in 1970, despite the growth in full members (by 358%) over the same time period. The percentage of Fellows in the membership has fallen from 29% to 9% over 32 years. Why has this occurred? In 1970 (before the boom in I-O careers) the majority of members were academics or researchers, but since the 1980s there has been huge growth in members who are working in consulting firms or business organizations. So both the overall membership and practitioner members have increased, but the number of Fellows has not kept up with those changes.
At the same time, the SIOP Executive Board during that period was (and still is) dominated by academics/researchers (75–100% of the Executive Board; Silzer & Parson, 2012b), and there has been regular objections to opening the Fellowship to practitioners who were not publishing research. For many years there has been resistance to modifying the fellowship requirements to make them suitable for practitioners. Historically 80–100% of Fellows have been academics/researchers. Several attempts by well-known practitioners have been made to adapt the requirements to I-O practice, however not much has changed in reality. In 2011–2012 the overwhelming majority (83%) of the new Fellows were academics/researchers (Silzer & Parson, 2012a). The shrinking percentage of members who are Fellows and the limited number of practitioners given Fellow designation suggest that there is an ongoing resistance to change by members who are in decision making positions.
Associates, International Affiliates, and Student Affiliates
We also looked at other membership categories over the last 12 years (which is the only data we could find on these groups). These member data are presented in Table 2.
Over the last 12 years there has been significant growth in Associates (218%), International Affiliates (221%), and Student Affiliates (231%). (It should be noted that these groups are not full members of SIOP nor do they have voting rights.)
What is striking is that all three of these groups have grown much faster than full members (33% growth) and Fellows (13% growth) over the same period. In fact Student Affiliates in 2012 (n = 3949) now outnumber full members and Fellows (n = 3055) by 29%. It raises the question of whether SIOP may have overfocused on increasing these groups to the detriment of growing the full membership and Fellows. The original idea was to involve students in SIOP so they would become full members but the data suggest that may not be working.
Primary Work Setting of Members
There have been many discussions in SIOP about how the employment setting of I-O psychologists has changed in the last 20 years. There has been a general agreement that the career opportunities for members in consulting and in business organizations has significantly expanded. Table 3 presents data from four studies on member work setting that were published in TIP and includes members with all degrees.
The 1985 data are based on the 1985 SIOP membership database but only 63% of members answered the employment setting questions in their membership information. The 1996 and 2006 data are based on surveys mailed to members with return rates of 32% and 33% respectively. It is hard to determine which work settings may be under- or overrepresented in this data. So the data from these three studies may not be representative of the full membership. The 2011 data are based on the whole 2011 membership database. All 3,201 full members and Fellows were categorized based on their membership information. As a result this study may be more representative of the full membership than the other studies.
1 Howard, 1986. Based on 1985 SIOP membership database of 2,496 members, Fellows, and Associate members. Table 5 is based on 1,570 members in these categories who responded to the survey (a 63% response rate); some members did not respond to questions on employment status.
2 Borman & Cox, 1996. Based on survey mailed to "about 2,000 SIOP members for whom we could obtain mailing labels"; received 647 usable surveys for a return rate of 32%. The specific membership categories included are unknown, but the "target was fellows and (full) members). However only 91.7% of respondents were identified as having a PhD, which "suggests some associates might have slipped in" to sample.
3 Doherty, 2006. Based on 2006 survey of 5,701 members, Fellows, Associate members, International Affiliates, and Student Affiliates. Table 5 is based on 1,881 returned surveys for a 33% return rate.
4 Silzer & Parson, 2011. Based on 2011 SIOP membership database of 3201 members and Fellows.
5 "Other" category was defined differently in each study but generally covers members not categorized in an identified work setting or where work setting was unknown.
It should also be noted that the member categories that were included in each study were different. This accounts for some of the results in the 1996 data, which suggest a drop in the actual number of members in academic, business and government work settings from the 1985 study. The member groups included in each study were:
- 1985: full members, Fellows and Associates
- 1996: full members, Fellows, and some Associates
- 2006: full members, Fellows, Associates, International Affiliates, and Student Affiliates
- 2011: full members and Fellows only
The difference in samples may have the most pronounced effect on the 2006 data, which included all member and affiliate categories, including students.
The increase in consulting firms and independent practice as a primary work setting is the largest increase among the different work settings. This matches our perception that consulting work opportunities significantly increased in the 1980s and 1990s. Members working in business organizations increased in actual numbers but not in their percentage of all SIOP members. There has been more growth in the members working in consulting settings than the members working in business organizations.
The data also suggest some stability in the percentage of members who work in academic settings (with slight increases), but the actual number of members in this work setting may have more than doubled in the last 25 years. (The noticeable decrease in actual academic members between the 1985 and 1996 studies is likely due to sampling error.) The increase reported in the 2011 study may primarily be the result of the significant and recent growth in academic positions located in business schools. The business school positions now represent 47.6% of the academic positions held by SIOP members (Silzer & Parson, 2011).
To further investigate work setting trends we sorted 2011 members by the decade that they received their graduate degree and by their current work setting. The results are presented in Table 4. The data only represent full members and Fellows in the 2011 database who hold I-O degrees. (It does not include retired members or retired Fellows).
That there are only 48 full members and Fellows who graduated in the pre-1970 period and who still are members suggests that quite a few of original members have retired or are no longer members. For the members who graduated in the 2000–2009 period, 37% (n = 324) are in academic positions, 27% (n = 236) are in organizational positions, and 28% (n = 246) are in consulting (nonresearch) positions. This suggests that 55 % of recent graduates are working in consulting firms or in organizations. The number of members (who graduated in the 2000–2009 period) in each work setting has at least doubled from the number of members who graduated 1990–1999 period. This suggests that the field is attracting, training, and graduating ever larger numbers of professional I-O psychologists and that their career opportunities are continuing to expand.
Graduate Education and Degrees Over Time
Numerous SIOP members have written TIP articles related to the graduate programs in our field and the graduate degrees of SIOP members. Although the data base used in each study is different, we tried to find opportunities to compare results at different points in time.
We found five TIP articles over the last 25+ years that reported on graduate programs in our field for 6 different years. Table 5 presents these data.
1 Rogelberg & Gill, 2004. 1986 data are based on Graduate Training Programs in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior published by SIOP (1986). 2004 data are based on graduate training programs listed on the SIOP website (January 15, 2004).
2Rentsch, Lowenberg, Barnes-Farrell, & Menard, 1997. Data are based on survey of 175 graduate programs identified from previous editions of the SIOP guide to I-O graduate programs, journal articles describing graduate training in industrial psychology, and direct solicitation. Completed surveys were returned by 143 programs some of which were master’s degree programs.
3Costanza & Kissamore, 2006. Data based on graduate programs listed on 2006 SIOP website. Specific degrees listed for business school and other programs were not identified but are likely to be similar to 2012 listings.
4Data based on graduate programs listed on 2012 SIOP website
5Silzer & Parson, 2011; 2012c. Data are based on 2011 SIOP membership data where graduate degree and graduate institution were self-reported by members.
6Programs listed in business or management departments: 10 OB, 12 OB/HR, 3 HR (2 PhD, 1 EdD), 3 HR/IR, 10 business/mgmt, 1 management & organizations. Related and interdisciplinary programs listed: 1 OD (PsyD), 1 org sciences, 1 consulting, 1 health psych, 2 business psych (1PhD, 1 PsyD), 1 applied, 1 ethical & creative leadership in various other departments.
The database used in various studies varies across studies. The data for the 1986, 2004, 2006 and 2012 studies were based on either the listing of graduate programs on the SIOP website or the programs listed in the SIOP Guide to Graduate Programs. The 1995 survey study started with an extensive list of 175 graduate programs (doctoral and master’s programs) gathered from various sources (SIOP Guide, journal articles discussing graduate training, and direct solicitations), and then a survey was sent out to them with responses from 143 programs. The 2011 data are self-report data listed in the 2011 SIOP membership database, and as a result are likely to be more exhaustive but are self-report data.
There has been a regular progression of I-O psychology doctoral programs over the 25 years (from 40 to 74), based on those listed by SIOP. However in the 2011 membership database we found that full members and Fellows reported receiving I-O doctoral degrees from 125 different I-O graduate programs. There are many graduate I-O programs and graduate institutions cited in the membership data that are based in the U.S. and other countries that are not listed in the SIOP I-O graduate program directory. We are all aware of the expansion of I-O graduate programs both in the US and abroad. But perhaps the self-reporting of information may have been affected by self-presentation effects. For example some members with a PhD in psychology may have declared on their membership form that I-O psychology was their graduate major. Either way a listing of 125 different I-O graduate programs still seems pretty impressive for a professional organization.
Graduate programs in OP (organizational psychology) have not expanded much over time. Although given recent debates over the name of our field and the rising popularity of OP as our professional name, these programs are likely to increase in the future. What has increased is the number of graduate programs in business schools that related to our field.
For the 2011 data, full members and Fellows self-report 103 different doctoral programs in business schools. In the last 10 years there has been an expansion of OB programs in business schools (often hiring I-O psychologists as professors), and SIOP has made an effort to recruit business school faculty as members.
In our recent study of the 2011 membership (Silzer & Parson, 2012c), we identified the different academic institutions that awarded doctorate degrees to SIOP members. We sorted members into the decade that they received their degree. The results are reported in Table 6.
Table 6 shows the number of institutions awarding doctoral degrees (I-O degrees and all degrees) by decade to 2011 full members and Fellows. Data show a regular expansion in both categories. The 2011 SIOP members who received their doctoral degrees in 2000–2009 were granted their degrees from 188 different academic institutions. This is a surprisingly large number of institutions and suggests significant diversity of graduate education among our members.
In addition, the number of members receiving their degrees in each decade is noticeably increasing (58%, 47% and 41% increases from decade to decade over the last 4 decades respectively). But it should be noted that as the number of graduates increases each decade, the size of the increase over the previous decade is decreasing. One wonders with the recent decline in full members for 2011 and 2012 (see Table 1) whether this trend will continue, or are we at the beginning of a trend in falling SIOP membership?
Graduate Degree Major
Only two studies reported in TIP over the last 25 years reported on the major field of doctorate degree among SIOP majors (Howard, 1986; Silzer & Parson, 2011). Both studies are based on SIOP membership databases (1985 and 2011, respectively). The 1985 data includes full members, Fellows and Associates, while the 2011 study only includes full members and Fellows. Those data are presented in Table 7.
1Direct comparisons were made where possible across 1985 and 2011 datasets, however some comparison categories had to be approximated based on similar categories.
2Howard, 1986. Data are based on 1985 SIOP membership database and includes full members, Fellows, and associate members. Data are member self-report data.
3Silzer & Parson, 2012a. Data are based on 2011 SIOP membership database and includes only full members and Fellows (but not associate members or members listed as retired).
4"Biopsych" is biological psychology; "phys" is physiological psychology; "comp" is comparative psychology
The percentage of the SIOP membership with I-O psychology degrees has increased by 15% from 1985 to 2011 (from 50% to 65%), while the actual number of members with an I-O degree has increased 80% (from 1147 to 2070 members). It is worth noting that even in 1985, a total of 1831 members (full members, Fellows and associates) report practicing in I-O psychology even though only 1147 held an I-O degree. This suggests that many members had moved away from their original major field of study to I-O psychology as their main area of practice (or at least they self-report that in their membership data).
Many other degree categories for SIOP members have decreased both in percentage of overall membership as well as the actual number of members holding each degree (e.g., clinical, counseling, education, engineering, psychometrics, and social). It is likely that some of these prior members may have left and found their professional homes elsewhere (such as in APA Division 13, Consulting Psychology).
It is striking that the number of full members and Fellows with I-O and OP degrees now represent 68% (or 2/3) of the SIOP full members and Fellows. While members with other psychology degrees have significantly declined over the last 25 years, the number of members with OB degrees has clearly increased and now represents 7% of the membership. Members with OP degrees now represent 3% of the membership. The decrease in members with degrees in other areas is a concern and suggests declining opportunities for SIOP members to stay in touch with other related fields of psychology.
Based on our 2011 data, we looked at the trends in I-O, OB, and OP degrees across 5 decades (based on the 2011 membership). The data are presented in Table 8. (Note: Data in Table 7 include degrees earned in 2010 and 2011, while the data in Table 8 only include degrees earned only up to 2009.)
The number of members receiving degrees in each graduate major has increased in each decade. The number of OB degrees is about twice that for OP degrees for SIOP members. All three majors grew significantly among members from the 1990s to the 2000s: OP degrees by 100%, I-O degrees by 147%, and OB degrees by 205%. Adding 877 members with I-O doctorate degrees in the 2000s is a substantial increase.
Satisfaction With SIOP
Over the years SIOP has periodically surveyed members about their satisfaction with SIOP on various issues. The results of several of these member surveys were reported in TIP articles and are presented in Table 9. It should be noted that different member groups were included in different surveys. The 2000 and 2008 surveys reported on satisfaction responses for just full members and Fellows, whereas the results for other surveys include more member categories.
One concern is that several surveys (Doherty, 2006; Waclawski & Church, 2000; Waclawski, Church, & Berr, 2002) also included Student Affiliates. Waclawski and Church (2000) found that Student Affiliates consistently gave higher satisfaction ratings than members did, so the 2002 and 2006 data that include students along with other member groups may not accurately represent the true satisfaction level of just full members and Fellows. All datasets (except 2008; Silzer, Cober, Erickson, & Robinson, 2008a,b) also include Associates. Given that there now are more student members than full members in SIOP, it would seem that students are likely to significantly distort any satisfaction ratings with a positive bias. In the future member satisfaction surveys should at a minimum break out ratings for full members and Fellows separately from students because it is the full members and Fellows who are the core members of SIOP.
The satisfaction ratings across the 2000 and 2002 surveys are fairly stable. The member groups taken as a whole (full members, Fellows, and Associates) seem satisfied with SIOP as a professional organization and with the value of SIOP membership. However across three surveys (2000, 2002, 2006) the whole member group is consistently much less satisfied with the SIOP efforts in “promoting I-O to business” and “promoting I-O to other areas of psychology.” That trend is clear.
Regarding SIOP’s support for I-O practitioners and I-O practice, both the 2006 and 2008 surveys report lower levels of satisfaction among member groups. When breaking the 2008 satisfaction ratings down by member groups who spend different percentages of their time in practice activities, we find significant differences in satisfaction ratings. Full members and Fellows who spend 70–100% of their time in practice activities are significantly less satisfied with SIOP than other groups in “providing support to practitioners,” “providing a clear vision of I-O psychology and practice,” “understanding practice issues,” and “recognizing the contributions of practitioners”. In fact, full members and Fellows who spend a large percentage of their time in practice activities report high levels of dissatisfaction (35–40%) with SIOP’s support for I-O practice and practitioners in a number of areas (Silzer et. al 2008a; 2008b). Similarly, practitioners working in applied settings were noticeably more dissatisfied with SIOP support than members working in academic settings (Silzer et al, 2008b).
Full members and Fellows who spend 0% of their time on practice activities report noticeably higher levels of satisfaction in these areas than other practitioner groups but still are only in the 50–60% satisfaction range.
This data clearly suggest that SIOP member satisfaction surveys that include many member categories (such as associates and students) may mask the true satisfaction levels of full members and Fellows. In addition, member surveys that do not distinguish members who work in practice settings for those in academic and research settings may mask the underlying dissatisfaction that I-O practitioners have for SIOP’s support of I-O practice.
Future of I-O
We scanned back issues of TIP for articles related to the future of I-O psychology and were only able to find a few. Church (1998) presented four sets of comments from six SIOP members on their views of the future of I-O psychology. Many of those comments focused on organizational issues that we will face in the future. Church noted:
Clearly, based on these comments, although the twenty-first century for organizations and I-O psychologists may be fraught with complex and changing issues regarding the nature of jobs and careers, the types and methods of training that will be needed, the role of technology and its affect on communication and information sharing, diversity in individual skills and cultural orientation in a global business environment, shifting organizational structures and forms, and applicability of traditional selection and appraisal methods, all the individuals commenting here were optimistic about the future of I-O as a field and the challenges we are going to have to face.
[I]t is unlikely that the core nature of I-O psychology will evolve at a rate anywhere near a pace to keep up with the changes taking place in organizations. As I see it, there are really only three choices: We could become (a) insular anachronistic noodlers, (b) moderately useful technocrats, or (c) fully integral professionals.
Silzer and Cober (2010, 2011a, 2011b), surveyed 50 leading I-O practitioners and asked them “What are the three most likely future directions for I-O psychology practice?” They cited these primary insights from the responses:
- Ongoing concern about the integration versus divergence of I-O research and I-O practice
- Potential irrelevance and splintering of the field
- Perceived threat and competition to our field from professionals in other fields
- Possible integration and incorporation into other fields
- Migration to business schools
- Increasing focus on individual psychology and talent management
- Diverging professional interests between a focus on individuals/talent and a focus on organizations
- Need to be more relevant and useful to business clients and organizations
- Increasing impact of technology, globalization, and economic conditions
- Opportunity to leverage a data-driven and research-based approach for the benefit of individuals and organizations
- Potential changes to I-O roles and careers
- Increasing demand for demonstrating the ROI of our contributions
In sum, there are mixed views of the future of I-O psychology and practice. Both articles suggest some optimism for the future but also note the possibility that I-O psychology will not keep pace with ongoing changes in organizations or in the marketplace.
In reviewing these data we found interesting and, in some cases, surprising, trends. The key trends are:
- There has been a steady increase in the number of full members over the last 40 years, but there are declines in the last 2 years
- The number of Fellows in SIOP has remained almost unchanged for the last 40 years despite a 538% increase in full membership. The percentage of Fellows in the full membership has dropped from 29% to 9%.
- The number of Student Affiliates in SIOP has more than doubled in the last 10 years and now is larger than the number of full members in 2012.
- The number of members working in each of the primary work settings has significantly increased over the years, particularly in consulting firms. This expands the career opportunities for I-O psychologists. Academic positions have also increased, primarily as a result of the expansion of positions in business schools, which now represent 48% of the academic positions held by SIOP members.
- Of the recent graduates (graduating 2000–2009) who are SIOP members, 55% hold positions in consulting firms or in organizations.
- There has been a steady increase in the number of I-O doctoral programs listed by SIOP (74 programs in 2012), while 2,011 members identify 125 different I-O doctoral programs. There has also been a noticeable increase in related programs based in business schools/management departments (39 programs in 2012), while 2011 members identify 103 such programs.
- In 2011, full members with I-O and OP degrees now represent 68% of the membership, up from 50% in 1985. At the same time, the number of members who hold degrees in other areas of psychology has significantly decreased over the same period for most majors (e.g. clinical, counseling, social, etc.). The number of members with OB and OP doctoral degrees continues to increase.
- The level of member satisfaction with SIOP varies considerably based on member category and percentage of time a member spends on practice activities. Students and members in academic positions report higher levels of satisfaction, while members spending 70% or more of their time on practice activities or who work in applied settings report higher levels of dissatisfaction with SIOP.
- TIP articles from 1998 and 2010 on the future of our field suggest that there is some optimism for the future but also express concern that I-O psychology will not keep pace with ongoing changes in organizations or in the marketplace.
Some of these trends raise concerns about how SIOP is evolving. Although there are encouraging growth trends, there are other trends that may be early warnings for challenges ahead for our field. Clearly the SIOP leadership should not only be aware of these trends, but should take action where trends may not be in the best interest of the long-term sustainability of SIOP and our profession.
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Church, A. H. (1998). From both sides now: A look to the future. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 35(4), 91–104.
Costanza, D., & Kissamore, J. (2006). Whither I-O? Get thee from psychology? The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 44(2), 75–82.
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