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Work Psychology White Papers Series: A New International Collaboration to Produce Evidence-Based Papers on Current Policy Topics

Virginia E. Schein

I want to introduce SIOP members to the Work Psychology White Papers Series (WPWP), a new and exciting international collaboration designed to produce evidence-based papers on current policy topics. The two primary goals of the papers are (a) to influence policy-making bodies on topics of broad societal importance by promoting the I-O and work psychology field as one that has relevant inputs to public and private organizations; and (b) to translate our research findings from academic and applied settings into a form decision makers can use thereby rendering a service to society. In his letter to then President-Elect Obama, Gary Latham stated, “Our members are committed to finding ways to use their research to benefit society.” The Work Psychology White Papers support this commitment.

The WPWP Series is a collaboration of three psychology associations: SIOP, the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP), and the Work and Organizational Psychology Division of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP).  The effort seeks to foster interaction between several different I-O and work psychology associations, as well as promote the use of scientific evidence in management and policy making.

The topics for the papers will be of broad interest internationally and have the potential for sufficient evidence-based contributions. They also will be high on the political agenda so that we can influence policy decisions in a visible way, as well as have influence on specific organizational concerns.

The papers will be short, about 5–20 pages is the current estimate, and written for policy makers and managers. The titles will be couched in questions relevant to policy makers (e.g., rather than “The Aging Workforce,” we think of titles like “Employing the Workers As They Age,” “Working Past Retirement,” or “What Should the Retirement Age Be for Air Traffic Controllers?”).  Inputs from policy makers will be obtained early in the process.  There may be several different short papers on different aspects of the issue or one longer paper with separate chapters.  If so, the chapters will be on a common theme and integrated together. The papers will be written by both academics and practitioners.

The white papers will be endorsed by and published as a joint effort of the three organizations. The members of a newly formed steering committee will serve as action editors, one from each of the three organizations. The current members of the Steering Committee/action editors are Nik Chmiel (EAWOP), Robert Roe (IAAP Division 1), and myself as interim chair, representing SIOP. Robert Pritchard served as the initiating chair of the WPWP Series. The action editors will select a writing team for each topic and serve as reviewers of their efforts.  The writing team will do the actual writing, and there will be members from each of the three organizations represented. The writing team members will be knowledgeable about the area, willing to translate research to practice, willing to be inclusive of many points of view, and committed to the evidence-based approach. The writing team will be listed as authors, the order determined by the team members, and these names used when the article is referenced.

The topic selected for the first Work Psychology White Paper is Employing Workers as They Age. Nik Chmiel will serve as the action editor for that topic. The committee’s goal is to have a draft of the first paper and approval by the three organizations by the end of 2009. The paper will be published and distributed in 2010 and plans for one or two more white paper topics put in place, with publications in 2011. Some suggested future topics include creating inclusive organizations, health and stress, safety, and decent work. 

SIOP will host a WPWP Series panel discussion—”Evidence-Based White Papers: The Aging Workforce: An International Collaboration Between EAWOP, IAAP, and SIOP”—at its annual conference in New Orleans in April.  EAWOP will also sponsor a roundtable on the WPWP Series at its annual meeting in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in May. Another roundtable will be held at the International Congress of Applied Psychology in Melbourne in 2010. We welcome your comments and input on the Work Psychology White Papers Series mission and process, as well as on future topics.