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Frank Landy: An International Perspective

Zander Wedderburn
Ex President of the British Psychological Society
Fellow of the Working Time Society

Frank Landy was an outstanding writer, practitioner, consultant, and expert witness in industrial-organizational psychology, and his early death is tragic.  His own account of his life, when president of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is fascinating, hilarious, and ultimately baffling.  What made him tick? (www.siop.org/Presidents/landy.aspx

Frank went from being a plumber’s only son in Philadelphia to a Jesuit prep school, then a failed student of mechanical engineering, to preeminence in I-O psychology by a series of unlikely steps, and also managed to run over 60 marathons, become an expert fly fisherman, and collect over 20 guitars (including building one of his own).

I first met him in the late 1970s, when he had already demonstrated his unusual and sustained interest in the work systems of European countries by taking a sabbatical in Sweden.  He had also written a major textbook with Don Trumbo in 1976: I once asked him why, and he replied that they were out running together and just thought of it as a joint challenge.  He managed to include Scotland in his European tours at one time and picked up on some of my research on shiftwork (which is somehow crazily different in the U.S.A.), interrogated me, sent me a summary of our discussion, and played a game of squash with me.  I think I beat him, but it was his first game, and his fitness made him quite a struggle.

He was a star visitor at the Annual Occupational Psychology Conference in the UK, and I vividly remember his account of the Domino’s Pizza delivery case: The pressure to deliver fast was highly dangerous, and he contributed to winning a very large judgement against the pizza chain, perhaps the peak of his many appearances in court.  

He travelled widely in Europe (Romania and the former Yugoslavia, Russia, Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia, Finland, and Sweden) and then branched out into the rest of the world (South Africa, Mexico, South America, New Zealand, and Australia, among others): His cosmopolitan curiosity made him a uniquely renaissance man of the modern I-O world.

He also resumed his high ranking in textbooks with Work in the 21st Century, written with Jeffrey Conte and published in 2004, now in its 3rd edition.

He was back in Scotland more recently, to taste our porridge, (and take home a spirtle) and enjoyed a visit to the north of Scotland with Kylie Harper, his third wife.  He was a loving and lovable man and will be sorely missed by his many friends, as well as the profession.