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Spotlight on Local I-O Organizations

Lori Foster Thompson
North Carolina State University

Greetings, and welcome to the July edition of Spotlight on Local I-O Organizations! As noted in the last issue of TIP, Michelle Donovan has retired from this column, leaving me with substantial shoes to fill. I am excited for this opportunity, and I hope youll enjoy whats on the horizon.

Throughout the past 11 columns, Michelle has taken us on a road trip of sorts, showcasing I-O networks and organizations from one end of the U.S. to the next. Well, TIP readers, its time to grab your passports. In the next few columns, Id like to broaden our Spotlight just a bit.

If you attended the 20th Annual SIOP Conference in Los Angeles, you probably bumped into an international member or two. Perhaps you even attended one of the meetings on international I-O, such as the poster session on global diversity, the reception for international members, or the open meeting of SIOPs International Affairs Subcommittee. Clearly, I-O and SIOP are responding to the globalization of the work world by becoming increasingly international in scope. 

How do our overseas colleagues manage to meet, learn, and connect with neighboring others pursuing complementary professional interests? The next few Spotlight columns will address this question. Lets head to Canada first to learn about Ottawas local I-O meeting scene.

1The way I see it, if were going to start traipsing around the world in search of I-O organizations, we should at least have the foresight to cover the northern countries during the summer.

The Ottawa I-O Psychology Group: Meeting, Networking, and Sharing Expertise in Canadas Capital City

Sunjeev Prakash2
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Greg Sears
2
Personnel Psychology Centre

Sikander Majid
2
Canada Revenue Agency

2 The authors would like to recognize James Lea, who initially suggested we explore the opportunity to submit to TIP's Spotlight on Local I-O Organizations.

As we were researching information for this article, it quickly became apparent that tracing some of the details surrounding the origins of the Ottawa I-O Psychology Group (OIOPG, Le groupe de psychologie industrielle et organisationnelle dOttawa [GPIOO] en franais) may well require the assistance of cultural anthropologists. Refusing to outsource this write-up, however, we persevered and managed to piece together the puzzle that is our beloved OIOPG.

The OIOPG was founded by Suzanne Simpson, Lorraine McKay, and John Kane of the Human Resources Systems Group (HRSG) in 1990. The group was developed with two primary objectives in mind: (a) to provide a forum in which I-O psychologists in the Ottawa area may meet to discuss and share their expertise relating to recent advances and topics of interest in I-O psychology, and (b) to provide an opportunity for informal networking.

Since its inception (and aside from a brief hiatus between 19961997), OIOPG has offered monthly speaker sessions between September and May (excluding Decembermuch too cold in Ottawa for meaningful dialogue) each year. We have had a wide variety of speakers and topics over the years. Individuals who have recently volunteered their time to present to our group include Drs. Sidney Fine, Victor Catano, Adrian Schwaninger, and Laurent Lapierre. Assessment Strategies Inc. (ASI), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Canadian Forces (CF), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Conference Board of Canada, the Department of National Defence (DND), the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and Social Development Canada (SDC) are among the organizations that have presented their work. Topics of discussion over the past few years have included the statistical detection of cheating behaviour; a panel discussion on lessons learned from the development and application of customized competency frameworks for employees within SDC, RCMP, DND, and CRA; organizational performance measurement at DND; assessment tools used in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; the defensibility of competency-based selection and performance systems; the use of personality testing (Conscientiousness) to recruit police officers; workplace aggression; the state of emotional intelligence research; and understanding occupational stress.

There are currently 155 people on the OIOPGs electronic distribution list. Although the majority of people on this list reside in the Ottawa area, there are also I-O practitioners and academics in other parts of the country who receive our communiques. As one of the past members of the organizing committee, Glen Morry, mentioned, looking at the members listing is like seeing a whos who of I-O psychology in Ottawa. In addition to announcing upcoming presentations, the distribution list has also been used to assist students in their search for internship opportunities, to notify group members of job openings, and to solicit participation in research being conducted across the country.

The OIOPG has faced various challenges during its existence, including perhaps most critically securing a regular, centrally located location for meetings (that also offers reasonable rates on beer!) and scheduling a continuous slate of volunteer presenters. After some early growing pains, things seem to have stabilized in recent years. The Department of National Defence has generously covered our backs by providing us with a regular meeting spot. Furthermore, our organizing committee has been very successful in recruiting presenters and maintaining high levels of participation at meetings. Currently there are six individuals on the organizing committee: Sikander Majid from the Canada Revenue Agency; Suzanne Massie from Assessment Strategies, Inc.; Jennifer Miles and Shannon Poole from the Personnel Psychology Centre of the Public Service Commission of Canada; Colin Mombourquette from the Department of National Defence; and Sunjeev Prakash from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. There are no official positions or hierarchies in the organizing committee. All members voluntarily contribute their time on an as-needed basis, and there are no membership fees. A true model of organizational efficiency indeed.

More recently, the OIOPG has received a greater level of recognition locally and across the country. Attendance at our speaker sessions has been included in several personal and professional development plans. Moving beyond the Ottawa area, the I-O community in Canada is fairly close knit, and it doesnt take long for news to travel. Some of the presentations to the OIOPG have become submissions for the quarterly news bulletin for the Canadian Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (CSIOP). CSIOP has also been kind enough to publish the OIOPGs schedule of speakers. 

Imagine what we could do with a budget...

In closing, we would like to extend an open invitation. Any and all visitors to the Ottawa area who have an interest in I-O are welcome to join our group for a free lunch courtesy of DND and stimulating discussion on interesting and diverse topics. We meet on the last Friday of the month (SeptemberMay) from 23 p.m. If interested, please contact Sunjeev Prakash at sunjeev.prakash@rcmp-grc.gc.ca or (613) 993-4901 for details.

Concluding Comments

So there you have itlocal I-O, Ottawa style. It looks like our neighbors to the north have a good handle on how to manage the challenges and enjoy the benefits of regular meetings addressing I-O topics and developments. Our next trip will take us to the outback (the region, not the steakhouse). Tune in to the October issue of TIP for details. In the meantime, dont hesitate to contact me with suggestions, ideas, and so forth at lfthompson@ncsu.edu.

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