Organized I/O Psychology: Past, Present, Future
James L. Farr
Pennsylvania State University
Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology, Inc.
St. Louis, April 11, 1997
A plate from my personal collection of American historical views on
English china depicts George Washington standing by his own grave. This plate was made in
the Staffordshire region of England around 1830; the plate was intended for export to
America (the global marketplace was alive and well in the early 19th century). Washington
is standing by his tombstone with a scroll in his right hand. No doubt Washington was
preparing to address a large number of his peers, perhaps a State of the Union Address,
and he was likely pondering the thought that laying in ones grave is not always an
This plate seems remarkably well-suited to illustrate the feeling that
SIOP Presidents have when preparing to present their presidential address. Most
past-presidents with whom I have spoken concur with this judgment. It also provides a
convenient segue to the subject matter of my talkthe past, present, and future of
organized I/O Psychology. My remarks are not intended to be a comprehensive appraisal of
all aspects of SIOP or organized I/O psychology since time is necessarily limited. The
talk presents my admittedly idiosyncratic look at some issues of relevance to SIOP and its
Why look at organized I/O psychology? Since I/O psychologists look at
organizations and their effectiveness, it seems to make sense that we should do this
periodically in relation to our own professional organization to see how well we are
meeting the needs of our most important stakeholders, our members. Such reflection and
self-observation may provide insights for desired change that may not always be clear from
the more routine "taking care of business" that frequently occupies the
leadership of the Society. Immersion in details often inhibits accurate evaluation of
larger concerns. Given that it may be useful to look at organized I/O psychology, why look
at I/Os past?
Ill skip the usual reference to "being condemned to repeat
it," and go straight to the millennium argumentits just numerology! Look
at all the important "anniversaries" related to I/O psychology that occurred in
* Golden anniversary of divisional structure of APA (& Division 14)
* foundings of Journal of Applied Psychology (1917) and Journal
Personnel Research (1922) (now Personnel Administrator)
* formation of American Association of Applied Psychology (1937)
* plans to publish Personnel Psychology announced (1947) (now
being published is Volume 50 of this journal)
* founding of Administrative Science Quarterly (1956)
* first use of the term "Organizational Behavior" (by
Our past is large and our time this morning is limited so what part of
our past do I consider? Selected by Farrapologies to those whom I could not
mentionare Presidential addresses by I/O psychologists who have been presidents of
APA, AAAP, SIOP/Division 14, and a few other articles by these individuals. Also, articles
focusing on the history or status of I/O have been consulted and their ideas incorporated
into this talk (hopefully with appropriate citations).
What did I look for in these various writings? Consistent themes and
issues that have been with us for some time and continue to vex us, but where I might be
able to make some suggestions for new attacks on these problems or be able to remind us of
past suggestions that we have managed to ignore so far.
Some I/O History
First, let me provide some historical context. I rely on several
sources for much of the historical information that I will briefly review. These include a
recent history of the APA, published by APA; and articles in the 1992 Journal of
Applied Psychology section on the APA centennial by Landy and by Katzell and Austin;
and an "in press" chapter on Division 14's history by Ludy Benjamin. I have also
done research myself on the history of I/O for an upcoming article on Bruce Moore in JAP
and used that as well.
Organized American psychology is 105 years oldthe APA was founded
in 1892 with 26 members. Its charter members included a few psychologists with strong
interests in the applicability of psychology, including James McKeen Cattell and the
founder of the Journal of Applied Psychology, G. Stanley Hall; Hugo Munsterberg was
elected a member at the first meeting of the charter group he was about to leave
Germany to join the Harvard faculty.
The first applications of psychology that might be labeled as
industrial psychology occurred in the early 1900s; Walter Dill Scott in Chicago began work
related to advertising, and published books related to this topic in 1903 and 1908.
Munsterberg conducted research on the use of aptitude and work sample tests in personnel
selection and later published Psychology and Industrial Efficiency in 1913.
Cattell (1895), Munsterberg (1898), and Scott (1919) were all elected
as presidents of APA, although Scott alone would have been identified as an industrial
psychologist at the time of his term in office.
In 1915, Walter VanDyke Bingham was brought to Carnegie Tech to create
a unit that would use psychology to help students with career choices; Bingham created the
Bureau of Mental Tests, and in 1916 an umbrella organization, the Division of Applied
Psychology, which in fact developed into the first organized academic/industry cooperative
personnel research program. Scott was brought in as Professor of Applied Psychology (first
to hold such a title); later Bingham and Scott were joined by other applied psychologists
(both before and just after WWI) of much fame: Yoakum, Strong, Thurstone, to name but a
few. Research fellowships were also awarded and the first Ph.D. program in industrial
psychology was established; in 1921 the future first President of Division 14, Bruce
Moore, was awarded the first Carnegie Tech Ph.D. in industrial psychology.
Edwin Boring in 1920, in a demographic analysis of APA members
published in Psychological Bulletin, had determined that the center of population
for US psychologists was somewhere in central Pennsylvania. This seems to fit well with
the situation for industrial psychology in the early 1920s as well as with the Carnegie
Tech group in Pittsburgh, Morris Viteles beginning his long career in Philadelphia at the
University of Pennsylvania, and Bruce Moore starting his long career at Penn State
(located in Centre County, PA). [I do not wish to make too much of the obvious argument
that little has changed to date regarding the center of the I/O universe!]
To backtrack a little, World War I had provided a great impetus to
applied psychology and mental testing. In the years following WWI, industrial
psychologists found a more receptive audience in work organizations for their
"scientific" selection and placement programs. While the majority of industrial
psychologists were still based in universities, Scott left academe to found the Scott
Company in 1919, the first industrial psychological consulting firm (although he soon also
left the Scott Company to become the president of Northwestern University). Cattell, who
had left Columbia University some years earlier because of his pacifist beliefs, created
the Psychological Corporation in 1921. Despite some years of marginal financial success,
the Psychological Corporation survived and became, of course, an important force in
personnel selection testing.
In the 1920s and 1930s the development of industrial psychology was
influenced by a number of factors, but generally it was a period of maturation for the
young subdiscipline. Journals were expanding and the number of books were increasing.
Reviews of published industrial psychology research in Psychological Bulletin by
Link in the early 1920s and Viteles, half a decade later, showed an increase in the number
of references from about 50 in Links review to about 350 in the Viteles review.
Important books written in this era included Burtts Psychology
and Industrial Efficiency (1929); Fryers Measurement of Interest (1931);
Kornhauser and Kingsburys Psychological Tests in Business (1924); Bingham and
Moores How to Interview (1930); Poffenbergers Applied Psychology
(1927); and Viteles Industrial Psychology (1932), the first comprehensive
text in industrial psychology.
Graduate programs were increasing although still not numerous and the
program at Carnegie Tech had been abolished in 1923 when a new president and Bingham
clashed. There were now Ph.D. programs in industrial psychology at Ohio State, Minnesota,
Stanford, Penn State, Purdue, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and NYU.
Nonacademic employment of industrial psychologists increased as
industrial corporations began to add them to their staffs. The famous Hawthorne studies
gave rise to field research with varied methodologies: observational, experimental, and
action-oriented, in addition to the correlational methods more commonly used. The
Depression caused a shrinkage in many organizations uses of psychological tests in
selection and of training, but more concern for social issues can be noted. Industrial
psychology remained, however, a management-oriented discipline.
The Organizing of I/O Psychology
Meanwhile, things were not so happy within APA; clinical psychologists
were able to get APA to create a Section of Clinical Psychology in 1919, but efforts to do
the same for industrial psychology were not successful. The APA Clinical Section did not
fully meet the needs of clinical psychologists. Various groups of other applied
psychologists formed the Association of Consulting Psychologists in 1930. In 1937 the
members of a number of applied groups, including the APA Clinical Section, the Association
of Consulting Psychologists, and various local and state groups, created the American
Association of Applied Psychology (AAAP) as a national association to represent the
interests of applied psychology, broadly defined.
Section D, Industrial and Business, was one of the four (later five5)
sections created within AAAP. Although not a large section, it was very influential as
four of the total of eight AAAP Presidents had backgrounds in industrial: Fryer, Paterson,
Bingham, and Poffenberger. Although applied psychologists had negative perceptions of
their treatment within APA, interestingly most did not give up their APA
membershipsabout 90% of the AAAP members were also members of APA in 1943.
In 1945, following about 2 years of meetings, deliberations, and member
votes, APA and AAAP agreed to a re-organized APA as THE national psychological association
in the US. Part of the re-organization was a divisional structure with a Council of
Representativesessentially the same form of organizational governance that exists
today in APA. All of the five sections of AAAP were charter divisions of the new APA,
including Division 14, Industrial and Business Psychology.
Several name changes occurred along the way for Division 14in
1960, drop "Business" when Division 23, Consumer Psychology, was created. In
1970, add "Organizational" to acknowledge the "group and higher order units
of organizations, and whole organizations" as part of our domain of interest. In
1982, the division incorporated as SIOP, Inc. Details and rationale of the incorporation
appear in the January 1997 TIP and will not be re-hashed here. After the creation of the
American Psychological Society in 1988/89, SIOP members were required to be members of
EITHER APA or APS, instead of only APA.
Themes Identified in I/O Presidential Addresses
We finally get to the themes identified in my look at past presidential
addresses of industrial (and I/O) psychologists in their talks before APA, AAAP, and
Division 14/SIOP. Of the several candidates for a closer look, I selected two that seemed
to me to be the more important ones and which fit my earlier criteria of long-term concern
and where we have made some progress recently (and might be able to make more soon). These
two themes are: (1.) Science AND Practice or Science VERSUS Practice. (2.) I/O
Psychologys low profile (and maybe NEGATIVE profile) with industry, government, and
society at large. Let me consider each of these in more detail.
The Science/Practice Relationship in I/O
The science/practice issue in relation to I/O Psychology has really
been concerned with several different intergroup relationships:
1. Applied Psychology versus "Pure" Science in early days of
APA and later APA/AAAP relations;
2. Scientists and Scientist/Practitioners versus Health Care Providers
within APA during the past 20 years, with APA/APS relations as a part of this; and
3. Academic versus Practitioner members of Division 14/SIOPstrife
We might have to reach the conclusion that industrial (later I/O)
psychologists are a contentious lot; when viewed historically, we always seem to be
fighting with someone. And, given no external "enemy," we fight among ourselves!
But, lets look in more depth at these various fights.
Bruce Moore attended his first APA annual meeting in 1919; he still
recalled more than 50 years later the remark of an eminent (but unnamed) psychologist he
was introduced to there, when that psychologist learned that Moore was a graduate student
in Carnegie Techs Division of Applied Psychology, "Well, now that the war is
over, psychologists ought to be getting back to the real science of psychology."
While attitudes such as this one were common, applied psychologists
were not completely shunned by their "pure science superiors." At that same APA
meeting, the presidential address was by Walter Dill Scott on "Changes in some of our
conceptions and practices of personnel" and Scott was at the time of his presidency
of APA also the president of the Scott Company, a consulting firm as I have noted earlier.
Bingham did feel compelled to write in 1923 an article entitled,
"On the Possibility of an Applied Psychology," in which he argued that
psychotechnology (or applied psychology) was as legitimate as "pure or scientific
psychology," but that pure and applied did have different goals and should not be
judged by identical criteria. Bingham drew an analogy to the physical sciences and
As noted indirectly earlier, the AAAP and APA "split" was not
too contentious. Fryer, in his presidential address to AAAP in 1938, noted that relations
between pure and applied psychology were not severed by the founding of AAAP. He did
express strongly that applied psychology was not subservient to the "pure," and
I quote "The applied and professional features of psychology are here to stay; there
can be no denial of the rights of the applied psychologist."
Paterson in his 1939 AAAP Presidential address noted that applied
psychology had reached maturity and was ready to contribute to the "world of
practical affairs" and that applied psychologists should "do all in our power to
increase its (AAAPs) strength and usefulness."
It should be noted that in most years (1937-1944), the APA and AAAP
held their annual meetings in the same city on consecutive or partially overlapping dates,
again indicating no great hostility.
By 1944, Poffenberger, AAAP President, was supporting reunification
with APA. Poffenberger in his 1935 APA Presidential address had severely criticized
APAs disinterest in applications of psychology to practical problems of society and
individuals. Reunification did occur, of course, in 1945, and science and practice were
together again in APA.
In the 1970s and 1980s, I/O psychologists and others espousing a
science/practitioner model joined the "pure" science divisions of APA in
opposition to what was seen as a hostile takeover by the health care practitioners (i.e.,
the practicing clinicians). Now, I/O had many friends in those "pure" science
divisions who might have been on the opposite side in previous versions of the
science/practice disputes. Milt Hakel has written about these times in the January
issue of TIP from an insiders perspective, so I will send you there for details. APS
was formed by psychologists with science and science/practice orientations to better
represent their interests. Hot issues related to the definition of professional
psychological practice, accreditation of graduate programs, licensure of practicing
psychologists, and the possible re-organization of APA.
Now that things are more cooperative within APA and there are generally
cooperative relations between APA and APS (again, there are many joint memberships for
SIOP membersmuch like occurred with APA and AAAP 60 years ago), I/O psychologists
can focus their energies on civil unrest! Several recent SIOP presidential addresses have
looked at aspects of this issue; Ill summarize these talks.
First, Richard Klimoski spoke on "Revitalizing the
Interface Between Science and Practice"; then each of the two sides was addressed in
more detailfirst Paul Sackett on "the Content and Process of the
Research Enterprise within I/O," followed by Wally Borman on "Practicing
I/O Psychology: What are We Doing and How Well are we Doing it?." Klimoski called for
transforming science/practice tensions into a dialectic that could benefit all of us. He
suggested that a broadening of our usual definition of what is a contribution to knowledge
would be necessary before such a dialogue could be profitable. There would also need to be
a shift from normal science (the positivist paradigm) toward an acceptance of a pluralist
approach that legitimizes a variety of modes of research inquiry, including the
positivist, the action-oriented, and the experiential. Both academics and practitioners
would be expected, in Klimoskis vision, to contribute to "I/O knowledge,"
although they might use different methodologies and epistemologies to do so.
Sackett noted that I/O research, as reflected in journal articles, is
very frequently motivated by theory and prior research articles and rarely by observed,
real-world problems, documenting many of Klimoskis views (fears?) about I/O normal
science. This is compelling evidence for an academic/practitioner separation of
considerable negative utility for our discipline. Borman found that about of the
academic-based SIOP members who responded to his questionnaire on practice did engage in
professional practice. The amount of their practice was necessarily less than full-time so
that academics by Bormans calculations conducted about 10% of the "total
practice" of I/O while comprising about 37% of the sample. Borman argued that his
data suggest that it is difficult to make a sharp academic/practitioner distinction. Many
practitioners also teach on a part-time basis, further blurring the two categories to be
sure. However, many I/O psychologists place themselves in one camp only, if we can trust
self-statements heard in the halls of SIOP conferences!
Why should the academic and practice sides of I/O be arguing with each
other? Arent we really part of the same enterprise? Have we ignored Klimoskis
plea for change and dialogue? Bingham in 1923 captured well the view that seems to persist
throughout the vast majority of the I/O pioneers writings. "The clear
recognition of these two contrasted aims, the scientific and the practical, cannot fail to
benefit both the pure and the applied science." Did the common enemy of REALLY PURE
scientific psychology cause the more academic and the more practical industrial
psychologists in the first half of this century to close ranks, to see similarities, not
The Division 14 by-laws, derived in large part from the by-laws of
Section D of AAAP, from its founding have stated practice, research, and the exchange and
cooperation among all members as goals and purposes of the Division. Again, the party line
is ONE family. Bruce Moore, who chaired the committee that wrote the first Division 14
by-laws, in the first Division 14 presidential address, urged all industrial psychologists
to test their theories, their ideas, in real world settings, further supporting the mutual
benefit of the science and practice sides of our discipline.
So, what are these tensions that we are experiencing? Here are some
that I have read or heardthey will not surprise you, I suspect: There is a
disconnect between graduate education in I/O and the required practitioner competencies.
I/O practitioners implement programs, systems, and processes in organizations without a
solid research base. I/O academics conduct trivial research on meaningless theories.
These are not new issuesthe concern about graduate training
properly preparing industrial/organizational psychologists for careers in industry and
consulting has been in print for many years. It persists. Academics and practitioners hurl
barbed comments about the other grouppractitioners are not enough research-oriented
for the academics; academics have no clue about the important issues in work
organizations, according to practitioners.
Some of the tensions reference SIOP as an organization: SIOP recognizes
and rewards academics but not practitioners (reflecting again an academic/practitioner
split). SIOP leaders constitute a closed group of "insiders." While this does
not explicitly reflect an academic/practitioner split, there is frequently an implied
associationthe academics "run" SIOP aided by a few defectors from the
practice side (usually these are graduate school buddies of the academics).
Origins of These Tensions
Why do these beliefs exist? I believe enough in the science/practice
model that I tend to develop sets of hypotheses about causes of organizational phenomena
that I observe and then look for evidence concerning those hypotheses (admittedly, a
rather positivist approachsorry, Professor Klimoski!). Here are some hypotheses that
Id like to briefly explore today:
1. "Kernel of truth" hypothesisfrom the perspective of
the ideal, there is probably some truth to most, if not all, of these concerns or tensions
that I have noted above.
2. Searching for confirming datawe know from both science and
practice that we imperfect humans have a tendency to search for confirmatory evidence
(i.e., we are biased to find support for our existing opinions and beliefs). If there are
data in line with the kernel of truth hypothesis, as argued above, then we will be able to
find data confirming these opinions: That is, most graduate programs in I/O dont
teach students how to estimate the budget requirements for the evaluation of a large-scale
HR intervention. I did chair Kevin Murphys dissertation committee.
3. An invalid science/practice modelhave we overbought as
individuals the scientist/practitioner model? Have we as a Society oversold that model? Is
this really a matter of level of analysis and application? At a discipline level, the
scientist/practitioner model works well in my opinion and can fulfill, in the ideal, the
mutual interest that Bingham described in 1923. At the individual level, the model cannot
be expected to fit well every I/O psychologist. Individual differences are supposed to be
something we know about; we seem to have ignored them when we toss our barbs at those not
like us. Practitioners want academics to be as sensitive to the realities of
organizational life as they are; academics want practitioners to love theory. Most of us
seem to have muddled along on our career paths, eventually offering support for Schneiders
ASA modelwe have been attracted to and stay in settings where we "fit" and
can do the types of things we are reasonably good at. This leads to Hypothesis 4.
4. Does personal insecurity drive some of this tension? I now fully
leap to an area of my incompetence by examining our deep-seated fears of possible failure
if we were suddenly to be thrust into the OTHER role. I marvel at my I/O practitioner
colleagues who successfully implement complex interventions in organizations while dealing
with Dilbert-like management structures. I know that I would soon be serving 30 years to
life if I were asked to do that as my full-time job. Practitioners may have similar qualms
about performing some of the tasks required of academics. Do we each abuse the other in
compensation for our worries that we couldnt perform well the others tasks,
that we cannot meet the ideal science/practice model? Stronger ties with our clinical
colleagues may be needed to answer this question!!!
The Image of I/O to External Groups
Ill return shortly to what SIOP is and can be doing to help us
appreciate our colleagues. First, let me turn to the second theme that has concerned I/O
psychology: Lack of respect from others. These "others" include other
psychologists and psychological associations; the corporate world; and government and
society. Sometimes the issue isnt really lack of respect, just
"forgetting" about us or being uninformed about what we do and our expertise.
Whatever the root cause, the outcome is generally the same: constraints on our profession,
both the scientific and applied aspects, in terms of the positive impact I/O could have,
and, on a more individual level, constraints on our personal satisfaction and sense of
efficacy about making a difference. I do not wish to elaborate endless examples of
thisI should mention a few just so I am not labeled "paranoid" [at least
for this reason].
1. APAs Public Policy Office issued last year a report on
affirmative action without any input from SIOP (they didnt consult the Science
Directorate either, who would have put us in contact with them).
2. Corporate executives decide to change all organizational HR
practices, policies, and procedures on the basis of a "competency model"
established by a group of HR middle managers during an afternoon meeting.
3. The National Skills Standards Board cannot find a spot for one I/O
psychologist because there are "only" 20-something such slots on the Board.
As depressing as this can be sometimes, it is not new. Katherine
Blackford, M.D., championed a character analysis scheme for making employment decisions in
the first quarter of this century that included among its nine physical variables the
trait of pigmentation or color, specifically contrasting blondes and brunettes. She wrote:
"In brief, always and everywhere, the normal blond has positive, dynamic, driving,
aggressive, domineering, impatient, active, quick, hopeful, speculative, changeable, and
variety-loving characteristics; while the normal brunette has negative, static,
conservative, imitative, submissive, cautious, painstaking, patient, plodding, slow,
deliberate, serious, thoughtful, specializing characteristics."
Bruce Moore encountered the use of Blackfords system at
Westinghouse when he conducted his dissertation research there around 1920; he noted years
later that one had to be tactful when discussing such a personnel system with a VP who
embraced it! Donald Paterson, later a President of AAAP and whose greatest legacy to I/O
psychology may have been his mentoring of Marv Dunnette, conducted in 1922 a
quantitative study of blondes and brunettes to demonstrate that they did not differ on
these traits, trying to quash the all too frequent use of this scheme in organizations.
A number of early and not so early studies have been concerned with the
acceptance of industrial psychology by various groups. Another interesting survey done by
Paterson in the early 1920s (J.A.P.) contrasted the extent to which "mature"
applied psychology students (i.e., adult students) believed in the value of
"psychology" versus "pseudopsychology" as he termed it. Only 16%
believed that applied psychology could "fit people to jobs"; 9% believed that
psychotherapy was useful (so we did beat the clinicians!); while 12% believed in mental
telepathy, and 5% in graphology and phrenology. Paterson was not optimistic that business
executives would provide more encouraging responses; he noted the large number of
charlatans in most cities, especially in the "quack-infested Northwest."
Of course, things are better nowarent they? Why is there
still limited acceptance and understanding of I/O psychology? Can we blame our
professional ancestors? Did the early industrial psychologists oversell our wares,
promising more than could be produced? Several writers on the history of applied and I/O
psychology have made this point, including Frank Landy. Landy has also argued that
we have continued to do this throughout the century with respect to the value of testing
in particular. He notes that repeatedly we have made an argument that the increased use of
psychological testing to make employment-related decisions will result in large gains for
the economy, for specific companies, and for individuals. Repeatedly, the larger society
has raised questions and has rejected our claims. The mistrust of testing is a far larger
topic than can be addressed in any detail here, but it is an exemplar of the resistance
I/O faces as its credibility and value are challenged.
Dunnette published "Fads, Fashions, & Folderol in
Psychology" in 1967, describing in entertaining but sobering words, many of the
"games" that I/O psychologists play in research (and applicable to practice as
well in most cases). Unfortunately, many of the games are alive today and I/O is less well
because of them. These include, using Dunnettes terms, "Premature Commitment to
some Great Theory or Great Method"; the "Great Word Game" or, in my words,
"Name that Construct (again)"; and, to paraphrase Dunnette, "Precise
Answers for Trivial Questions" or "Avoiding Tough but Important Questions."
Paul Sacketts more recent look at the genesis of published research articles gives
us continued pause at the state of I/O research.
Mary Tenopyr, in her Division 14 Presidential Address in 1980,
argued that I/O research and practice were frequently too narrow, too insular. She
advocated, first, more collaboration among those of the "I" and the
"O" persuasions. We are beginning to see thisSchneiders ASA
(Attraction-Selection-Attrition) model presented in his 1985 SIOP Presidential Address is
a good examplebut research studies and applied research projects are still more
likely to take predominately one side or the other of the hyphen and not give appropriate
weighting to both.
Tenopyr also argued for working with psychologists who are not I/O
psychologistsclinical, educational, cognitive, social, and so forthfor a
broader perspective. We have tended to "borrow" concepts from these other areas
of psychology, but much less often do we actually work together with them in research or
practice settings. Finally, Tenopyr called for collaboration with other
disciplineseconomics, education, sociology, finance, management, and so forth.
Again, the argument can be made that we have ignored as a field one of our basic findings
from organizational research and practicethat attitudinal and behavioral change and
acceptance of ideas occur more frequently when there is a perception of ownership and
buy-in; working together with those from other disciplines can foster mutual acceptance of
multiple perspectives on organizational problems. Now, we tell lawyer and economist jokes;
they tell psychologist jokes; the joke is likely on us when it comes to organizational and
societal influence. Enough about these issues before we get so depressed that we cancel
the rest of the conference!
SIOP and These Concerns: Today
What is SIOP doing today about these concerns? I want to briefly review
what SIOP has been doing about these concerns and then shift to some personal thoughts
about what else we can do in the near future.
Science, Practice, and SIOP
I like to think that we have an open Society, but I know that
committees and task forces get filled via processes still unclear to many members. Let me
outline those procedures. For standing committees, we have our volunteer forms in TIP, and
on the SIOP website, and I urge you to volunteer for what interests you. We do our best to
place people on committees they want and we have procedures (term limits) that ensure
turnover to give others a chance to serve. For task forces and other temporary groups,
members with an interest in a topic tend to be asked, but your leaders are limited by
their knowledge of who is interested in what issue, so communicate that interest; we are
interested in hearing from you. Finally, nominate and vote for our elected offices.
Remember, the apathy of many of you contributed to your having to endure this talk!
The SIOP executive committee probably spends more time on how to
encourage BOTH science AND practice than any other topic. We have made progress over the
past few years in revising (expanding is probably a better term) the guidelines for
election to Fellow in SIOP, that is, what constitutes an unusual and important
contribution to I/O and psychology, especially in relation to what kinds of practitioner
contributions are appropriate and observable indicators.
Our Education and Training Committee has recently revised the doctoral
training guidelines, with changes to the competencies that should be achieved by the
graduate of such a programmany of those changes reflect needed skills in the
application of the knowledge we gain in grad school. These revised guidelines are in the
midst of APA review now, but are available in draft form. They have benefited from
considerable input from academic and practitioner members and represent a good example of
how we can work together for mutual benefit.
Similarly, a revised I/O ethics casebook will soon (we hope) roll off
APAs presses, a product of a special subcommittee of SIOPs Professional
Practice Committee. It addresses ethical issues in both academic and practitioner arenas.
Finally, I want to note that recently we have established two new awards, one that might
be categorized as "science"-oriented (the William A. Owens award) and one that
is "practice"-oriented (the M. Scott Myers award). These are both supported by
endowment funds created within the relatively new SIOP Foundation; they honor prominent
SIOP members in the research and practice areas.
Enhancing Respect and Acceptance of I/O
We have established, under the auspices of the Long Range Planning
Committee, a task force that is looking into the questions of I/Os image, its
acceptance, and the extent to which we are "known" by corporate and policy
decision makers. We are also seeking to broaden our connections with associations, both
psychological and other. At this conference, several SIOP leaders are meeting with Russ
Newman, Executive Director of APAs Practice Directorate, to explore ways that we may
work together. I should add that we are not abandoning our already excellent relations
with APAs Science Directorate; Bill Howell will attend that meeting as well.
Let me note that Bill is retiring at the end of this calendar year. Much of the
enhancement of relations between SIOP and APA is directly due to Bills good offices.
A search is underway for Bills successor; candidates attuned to I/O are needed. Help
us find them!
One area in which SIOP leadership will admit ignorance is the nature of
our members connections with various non-I/O groupsresearch, practice,
industry, government, whateverthat could be valued allies. Please let us know where
we might make connections that can help us spread our message.
SIOP and These Concerns: The Future
It seems to me that we do better internally when we have an external
concern or threat. All of us, academic and practitioner, ought to be concerned about the
image, the respect, the acceptance of I/O as a discipline and profession. Can the
enhancement of I/O be a superordinate goal that can help us to stop internal bickering and
grumbling, help us have a more open Society, help us have closer academic/practice
How can SIOP help to enhance respect/acceptance of I/O Psychology?
Id like to suggest Society action in three areas. None is THE answer; they do not
represent charismatic vision; some are mundane, perhaps; but they collectively offer some
possibilities for a more effective SIOP as an advocate for our profession.
1. Broaden SIOPs linkages. American industrial psychology in its
formative years had strong ties with international industrial psychology. Viteles, among
others, used to write regularly about industrial psychology in other parts of the world;
reports of international conferences regularly appeared in our journals. Given the
increasing globalization of our organizations and the economy, we have not been doing our
part as a Society to develop our professional linkages with our international colleagues.
We have as individuals and as a Society an excellent opportunity next year to improve this
situation: The International Congress of Applied Psychology, the meeting of the
International Association of Applied Psychology that occurs only every 4 years, is meeting
for the first time ever in the U.S., in San Francisco, in August 1998, immediately prior
to the APA convention. I/O Psychologists from all over the globe will be there; we should
be there in force. I encourage you to attend. I have been at the last two ICAPs and can
attest that they are excellent meetings. I also want to note that we have registrants from
at least 17 countries at this SIOP conference; we especially want to welcome our
SIOP is also beginning to work with the European Association of Work
and Organizational Psychologists to develop joint programming for the 1998 APA convention
that follows the ICAP in San Francisco so that we may take advantage of our many European
colleagues who will be in the U.S. We welcome ideas for this collaborative effort and plan
to continue discussions with EAWOP for other mutual activities in the future.
Mary Tenopyr called for more multidisciplinary workthis has been
the theme of several recent SIOP Presidential addresses: to name a few, Shelly Zedeck
called for research on work and the family; Dan Ilgen for research on health issues
at work; Mike Campions address last year noted the existing approaches to
work design from several perspectives and called for their integration. SIOP should move
to develop linkages with other professional societies that can help us conduct more useful
research and practice in these and other content domains.
Certainly, we need more links with business, industry, and labor
groups; again, as individuals we often have these, but SIOP as a society does not. I hope
that the SIOP task force on image and acceptance of I/O will help us identify those groups
who may be receptive to closer linkages.
Morris Viteles, who passed away in December 1996 at the age of 98,
would have been in favor of these suggestions, I think. As I mentioned earlier, he wrote
often on industrial psychology around the globe and was heavily involved with IAAP. He
wrote articles on industrial psychology in general social science journals with modest
titles like "The Role of Industrial Psychology in Defending the Future of
America" (1941). Was this oversell? Perhaps, but it did grab some attention outside
2. Communicate the I/O perspective. How do we better communicate the
I/O message to our multiple constituencies? We have been too technical for many of our
customers. Social cognitive psychologists like Nisbett have found that most people are
influenced in decision making not so much by dry statistics and logic as by vivid
examples. As applied scientists and research-based practitioners, I/O psychologists are
loath to downplay data. We try to build credibility by reliance on numbers, statistics,
and research methodology. That is our distinctive foundation, and I would never suggest
that we abandon these things, but we must accept that not everyones heart is
gladdened by a factor analysis, a LISREL model, or a utility analysis. SIOP can take a
lead here by commissioning task forces whose goal is to produce statements (position
papers) on various topics about what we know, how to approach what we dont know, and
why simple answers dont always work for complex organizational issues.
3. Give I/O psychology away. Now, I engage in heresy of a
sortmany of us sell I/O psychology for our livelihoodsindeed, we might agree
that all of us do. George Miller in an APA Presidential address advocated giving
psychology away for human benefit. I will argue that we must do the same for I/O. But, I
think that SIOP and I/O psychology can benefit as well from this action. This is not new.
The current TIP describes a very successful pro bono project conducted by a committee of
Division 14 in the early/mid 70sthe National Association of Secondary School
Principals Assessment Center. I will not repeat here Paul Herseys excellent
description of that project, except to say that it is the model for what I am advocating:
I/O psychologists making a real-world difference for intrinsic reasons, but an effort
which could help also to enhance I/Os image and acceptance in society.
My former Penn State colleague, Frank Landy, when he and I were
discussing this notion recently, suggested that SIOP "adopt" the District of
Columbia government as a pro bono project, become its HR and OD "agency" and put
the city back on its feet. A bold proposal! Perhaps too bold as a first new attempt, but
this has stimulated thinking about the concept of pro bono work.
An avenue which I want to explore regarding pro bono projects is the
development of SIOP linkages with the many local and regional I/O groups around the U.S.
(See the April 1997 TIP for a listing of these groups). This is after all a talk about
ORGANIZED I/O, and I have omitted any reference to them so far. This type of pro bono work
is both a professional and a political enterprise. All politics are local. Local I/O
groups are more likely than SIOP to have the contacts and the awareness of needs that are
crucial to success. SIOP can serve as a catalyst, a resource, and a clearinghouse for such
efforts. We can do good work and do good for ourselves.
We can also use this as a vehicle for building better academic-practice
relations. We will need teams to work on such projectsteams of prac-titioners,
academics, and students. Working together can build personal relationships that may have
lasting effects. This may be a way for graduate students to gain skills related to
practice; for academics to observe real-world-problems requiring varied research
methodologies; for practitioners and academics to engage in Klimoskis dialectic. I
dont want to belabor this idea, but it would seem to have many positive features
that can help us as individuals and as a Society.
I should be clear that I usually persist with my ideas, so consider
yourself forewarned: Someone may be talking to you about contributing some energy,
expertise, and time to a local project. I hope you accept.
Before I close, I want us to remember that we have much to celebrate,
not only tensions. We have more members and affiliates than ever before. Our annual
conference is a roaring successlook at us all hereacademics, practitioners,
students. Think about your good SIOP friends"Is" and
"Os"; academics and practitioners. Mike Campion last year ended his talk
with a typically compulsive and comprehensive listing of all the reasons that he, and all
of us, can be proud to be an I/O psychologist. I will not attempt to top that; I agree too
much with his list to compete with it.
I wish to end on a personal noteto thank the many teachers, colleagues, and
students who have built for me a series of enabling environmentsmy undergraduate
days at Georgia Tech; in grad school at Maryland; my faculty time at Penn State; and
within Division 14 and SIOPso that I might be able to open this conference today.
Thanks to you all. May all enjoy their finest SIOP conference ever!