Amber Stark

50-Year Members Honored With Gold Star Status: Part 3

Not only has SIOP/APA Division 14 changed in the last 50 years, but so has the entire field of I-O psychology.

Over the past few months, we’ve shared conversations with a few of our 34 Gold Star (50-year) members as they’ve reminisced about SIOP and I-O psychology.

In this second-to-last installment in the series, we talk with Drs. M. Peter Scontrino and Robert Morrison.

What kind of positions did you hold or employers did you work for?


Dr. M. Peter Scontrino
Joined in 1971, working in I-O psychology for 51 years.
I have worked as an external consultant in my own firm. I started as Scontrino & Associates and then became Scontrino-Powell. I also taught for 3 years at Seattle University and 7 years (part time) at Seattle Pacific University.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Robert Morrison
Joined in 1956, worked in I-O psychology for 40 years.
I worked for four industrial firms with 3 years in HR management (Mobil Oil Co.), 3 years in Management Development program design and management (Mead Corp. and Martin Marrieta), and 6 years in Personnel Research Management (Sun Oil Co.) covering hourly to executive selection, decision making tools, surveys, organization design, etc. Then, I spent 6 years in academia teaching corporate strategy, individual differences, decision making, organizational behavior, and HR management in the College of Business, University of Toronto. While there, I worked with the Personnel Association of Toronto as an officer and designer of a credentialing program. About 10 years were spent teaching part time in master’s degree programs at three universities while I worked in personnel research for industry and the government. The last 20 years were spent at the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center primarily studying officer careers and the factors associated with their career decisions.

 

What are some of your interest areas in the field?
Dr. Scontrino:
I have done a lot of work on performance management and employee involvement/engagement.

Dr. Morrison: I was fascinated by the field work that we used to set up the research and studies with most of my employers. I worked with many very bright hourly, professional, technical, managerial, and executive personnel whose questions and insights were often superb and led to fascinating, innovative studies. For example, a casual discussion with the IT officer of my employer about the problem of selecting who would fill the top executive positions of merging two corporations led to building a decision aid for the new board of directors to use in doing so. Unknown to me, the IT officer was the son-in-law of the current president of the larger of the two corporations. When he discussed it with his "dad" after a Sunday dinner, the idea was accepted and unlimited funding made available for it. Neither company knew any personnel in the other firm. The work of designing systems and collecting information such as performance, background, medical, and interest data from over 500 of the top personnel in 6 months was very intense but rewarding for myself and staff. The first decision made by the board was the new president of the merged corporation. This was probably the only decision aid ever built for such a purpose. Even executives who had originally objected to the program admitted that it was crucial to their decisions. However, not all of the people that I worked with were as supportive. There are many stories describing lack of any interest, incompetence, bias, ignorance, antagonism, etc.

What has been your favorite part of being a SIOP member?
Dr. Scontrino:
My favorite part of being a SIOP member is meeting other professionals and serving on committees. Specifically, the Local I-O Groups committee. We worked hard, produced many good products, and became a close-knit group.

Dr. Morrison: My colleagues without a question! So many wonderful discussions, ideas, insights, problem solving approaches, etc., etc. In addition, many of them are, or have been since I've outlasted a lot of them, very warm, personal friends. That's a wonderful set to have scattered all over the country--and countries. I am also proud of receiving SIOP's James McKeen Cattell Award for research design in 1982 and APS/SIOP Fellow status.

What was your favorite conference?
Dr. Scontrino:
I have attended every conference. They have all be worthwhile, and none stands out. 

Dr. Morrison: The Division 14 meetings had the advantage of providing access to psychologists with interests outside I-O. Those meetings plus the early SIOP meetings were much smaller and more intimate than the large ones of today, so it was easier to mingle with peers, students, and the more senior members without setting up formal meetings. As SIOP came along and became bigger and bigger, subgroups like The Summit Group (of which, I was an original member.) were formed.

How has I-O psychology changed over the years?
Dr. Scontrino:
I have seen SIOP change to include more organizational focus such as employee engagement.

Dr. Morrison: It has moved heavily from a focus on the individual (individual differences paradigm) with its focus on selection, job analysis, etc. into an organizational/small group emphasis. The changes in I-O psychology have reflected the changes in society. Probably one of the initial programs to reflect society's early adoption of civil rights was done in the petroleum industry in the latter half of the 1960s. I was one of a small group of personnel research psychologists representing six oil companies and lead by Paul Sparks who outlined and supported the research for objectively defining applicants' ability to do several primary refinery jobs. Marv Dunnette and his staff did the work. The resulting approach became the basis for the original set of Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC) Guidelines intended to reduce racial bias in selection. Much has been learned and changed since, but it was major step toward making the Civil Rights Act work since it involved an entire industry. I wonder what would have happened if the head of human resources at my company had known that the firm was compliant with the OFCC Guidelines by the time I left the organization?

We appreciate Drs. Scontrino and Morrison taking the time to share their memories of the early days of SIOP and Division 14. Stay tuned for the final Gold Star member’s reminiscence.

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