Oswald Chairs Board on Human Systems Integration for National Academies

By Robin Gerrow

Dr. Frederick L. Oswald, longstanding member and former president of SIOP (2017-18), has been named chair of the Board on Human-Systems Integration (BOHSI) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He assumed his duties on Jan. 1, 2020. BOHSI deals with a wide range of issues relevant to I-O psychology. Current projects address making recommendations on facility staffing requirements of the Veterans Health Administration, working with the U.S. Air Force on human capital management, and reviewing ways to improve patient care by reducing clinician burnout.

“It is a real privilege to have worked with my BOHSI colleagues on a range of important and interesting issues, and now to be the chair is quite the honor and responsibility,” Oswald said. “Human factors psychology and expertise features strongly within BOHSI—but organizational psychology is also critical to every issue on the table, and I hope SIOP will be interested in increasing its involvement.”

Oswald is a professor and Herbert S. Autrey Chair of Social Sciences in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Rice University in Houston, Texas. His research and publications focus on developing, implementing, and statistically evaluating psychological measures in personnel selection and college admissions contexts.

“My years of fortunate involvement in SIOP has allowed me to work with and listen to a wide range of I-O psychologists. This helps me communicate the many ways that SIOP might importantly inform the National Academies,” he said. “Although own research deals with personnel selection and testing, there are so many other areas of IO psychology that are relevant to BOHSI, such as training, teams, recruitment, diversity, and management and culture. In general, it is my role as BOHSI chair to bring the best objective science available to inform a variety of complex issues facing the world and workforce. I-O psychology, human factors, and other scientific disciplines are usefully brought to bear on these issues, and therefore I hope SIOP will become a strong supporter of BOHSI.”

As part of the National Academies, BOHSI works with federal agencies and private industry on understanding the relationship between people and technology, and provides evidence-based guidance to help organizations design systems that take into account the users’ needs. Oswald will help guide BOHSI’s broad mandate that includes providing new perspectives on theoretical and methodological issues concerning the relationship of individuals and organizations to technology and the environment; identifying critical issues in the design, testing, evaluation, and use of new human-centered technologies; and advising sponsors on the research needed to expand the scientific and technical bases for designing technology to support the needs of its users. 

“BOHSI deals with a large number of human systems issues, and those questions cross disciplines,” Oswald said. “When we talk about safety in oil and gas or the medical industries, or we look at how to use forensic laboratories or air traffic controllers more efficiently, we need multiple disciplines informing those issues, and I-O psychology has a lot to offer.”

Another example Oswald gave is the idea of smart cities, which use information and communication technology to improve services such as utilities and transportation.

“Smart cities need to have smart organizations, and that involves employers, employees, and job seekers working together in environments that are influenced by technologies and changing economies within those cities,” he said. “The research and practice of I-O psychology is highly relevant to many of these topics.”

Another current issue of importance to both public and private organizations is cybersecurity, where Oswald sees I-O making a significant impact.

“When we talk about a cybersecurity workforce with the Federal Aviation Administration, we have to approach it from many different angles,” he said. “What are the current cybersecurity issues, and what do we anticipate becoming issues? How should management and human resources approach it? How are you going to select cybersecurity experts, train them, certify them, and then retain them? What are the right organizational structures and workforce strategies that will accommodate and address cybersecurity issues most effectively?

“I’m very excited to be contributing to an interesting array of projects that are related to I-O in such a wide range of industries whether that be with federal agencies or private industry,” he said.

Click for more information about BOHSI.


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