Amber Stark

Member Spotlight: Sharon Glazer

Position/Employer: Professor & Chair, Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences, University of Baltimore

Interest area(s): Within the domain of I-O psychology (IOP), my interests lie within the intersection of cross-cultural psychology and occupational stress and health. My research focuses on cultural and human values that influence and shape aspects of the person and the relationship among culture, person, and work context. Examples of topics I’ve touched upon cross-culturally (and domestically) are role stressors, social support, personality, organizational commitment, turnover intention, global virtual teams, strategic alignment, acculturation, organizational development, and currently I am working on validation studies of a measure I developed on meaningfulness in life. Unfortunately for me, I find so many domains within IOP so interesting that, like a kid in a candy store, I am eager and thirsty to learn more.

What sparked your interest in I-O psychology?
I had never heard of IOP before pursuing my master’s degree in it. In fact, prior to focusing my studies in psychology, I was an international political science major, but during my study abroad, I realized politics is too dirty for me and decided to pursue psychology. As I reached my final semester, I still had not heard about IOP and was preparing applications for graduate studies in Child Developmental Psychology. Upon hearing of my pursuits, my mother’s friend asked me why I would pursue Child Development Psychology instead of something having to do with leadership? My mother’s friend knew me as an ardent leader in my youth group during my high school years. From Maryland I was sent to Florida, New York, Texas, Poland, and Israel to represent the youth group and give talks to thousands of adults at annual meetings. Leadership of some sort was in my cards. Long story short, she told me about Organizational Behavior (a foreign MBA concept to me). At the time when I applied for graduate studies we were still calling or writing postcards or letters to universities to send us paperwork to apply for their programs. Many of those universities I was interested in had a program called “Industrial and Organizational Psychology” or “Organizational Psychology.” Intrigued, I read the description and thought “That’s me!” At that moment I tore up my applications for doctoral programs in Child Developmental Psychology and prepared applications for IOP.

What role do you see I-O psychology playing in the future of work?
IOP must become vocal and play a more prominent role with decision makers in industry, government, business, healthcare, nonprofits, and labor unions. Barbara Kozusznik (past-President of Division 1 of the International Association for Applied Psychology) and I have prepared a Declaration for Industrial, Work, Organizational, and Personnel (IWOP) Psychologists that we shared via SIOP’s TIP and the International Association for Applied Psychology newsletter. In our document we articulate 10 goals for I-O psychology professionals (whether students, practitioners, teachers and/or scholars).

As a bona fide profession, we have a responsibility to making our work accessible to others who would benefit from our expertise when making decisions that affect workers, worker-eligible individuals, and organizations.

Which of the Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2021 do you most strongly relate to and how can I-O psychology practitioners, educators, and students impact this trend?
If I had to pick one, I’d say I most relate with #2 “Employee Health, Well-Being, Wellness, and Safety” but also #10 “Virtual Learning.” These two trends reflect my scholarly focus on occupational health and stress, and my teaching focus since 2004, which includes providing students opportunities to experience the global virtual environment (GVTs). My choice to focus on GVTs is partly because of my international and cross-cultural background, and partly because while living in Silicon Valley, I listened to the kinds of stressors my friends in industry were experiencing working on a GVT.

Attending to #2 only, however, practitioners should get into the habit of reflecting on workplace interventions as opportunities for organizational and personal growth and prevention of harmful situations or outcomes.

How long have you been a SIOP member?
In 2019 I became a Sterling Circle member. The day I got that email I felt terribly old! Having completed my BA in just 2.5 years, I was only 21 years old when I joined SIOP. OMG!!! This question is now making me wonder if I became the youngest Sterling Circle member? I need to find that out. Crazy to reflect on that. Thank you for the question J

What roles have you had within SIOP?
Since 2002, I have consistently supported SIOP with conference reviewing, and since 2014 I have been actively involved with the SIOP International Affairs Committee (IAC) and the International Research Collaboration small grant award committee. From 2019–2021 I was chair of the IAC, alongside co-chair Andrei Ion. I also served on the teaching award committee (2020-2022) and in early Fall 2020 I was invited to support efforts that provide guidance to the UN Development Program. I have also been an active member of the Local I-O Groups committee since 2017, and 2018–2019 I was actively involved as a member of the Education & Training Committee’s International subcommittee. As of April 2021, I am chairing “The Big Tent” initiative of the Alliance for Organizational Psychology (AOP). The aim is to create a network of leadership of IWOP associations and societies around the world to share information and better connect our various associations. Through these experiences, I have felt a great sense of accomplishment in serving my I-O community.

What is one of your favorite SIOP annual conference memories/highlights?
I don’t have a favorite SIOP conference, but I have favorite experiences at SIOP—those are visiting with my mentors, peers from graduate school, my students, and my colleagues I have met and befriended throughout the years. I am an academic through and through, and seeing these different groups of people who have profoundly shaped me and continue to shape me is immensely gratifying. Attending a SIOP conference provides some nostalgia that invigorates me anew each time I attend.

What advice would you give to students or early practitioners?
As Kurt Lewin is known to have said, “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” Students and early practitioners (as well as early academics) should get into the habit of asking “why?” Our quest to help people in the workplace must begin and end with us asking “why?” Why is this being experienced by people? Why should I consider this intervention? Why did the intervention work? Like a 3-year old, “Why?” should become an early practitioner, academic, or current student’s favorite question again. It is only by deep diving into “why” that we can better forecast or anticipate consequences for any intervention. For example, organizations should only plan to restructure after they know why they are restructuring. A new performance management platform should be employed only after management fully understands why a new platform is needed.

Please share one non-I-O-related bit of information about yourself.
I hate to exercise, but I LOVE to dance and do walking tours in new countries. Put on pop (not techno) music, no alcohol needed, and I’ll start dancing (to the embarrassment of my teenagers). Drop me in the middle of a new city and I’ll start exploring.

Is there anything you would like to add?
Authenticity and integrity are two of the most essential traits of an I-O psychology professional—whether as a student, academic, or practitioner. As influencers of students, fellow academics or practitioners, and clients, people’s well-being is in our hands; we must attend to their well-being carefully and intentionally.

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