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Obituary: Dr. Robert William Eisenberger

Dr. Robert William Eisenberger, a professor of Psychology and Management & Leadership at the University of Houston, passed away peacefully on May 2, 2022. He was 79 years old.

Bob was a Fellow of five divisions of the American Psychological Association, including the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Division 14). He was also elected to the Society of Organizational Behavior in 2014. Bob’s research on the employee–organization relationship has had a tremendous impact on our scientific community. His most recognized scientific contribution to I-O psychology was his foundational work on perceived organizational support (POS), which refers to the employees’ perception of how much the organization values their contribution and cares about their well-being. Since Bob and his students published the first article on POS in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1986, over 1,000 publications on POS, including several meta-analyses, have shown consistent and robust evidence that POS is an important antecedent of employee job attitudes, performance, and well-being. Bob’s research on POS has been published in top journals, such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. His original work on POS remains one of the most cited articles in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Beyond the scientific community, Bob’s research on POS provides HR professionals and managers with evidence-based tactics to maintain an engaged and productive workforce.

In addition to POS, Bob conducted research on employee moral emotions and unethical behaviors in organizations. As a social psychologist, his early work on learned industriousness and the impact of reward on creativity and intrinsic motivation was also impactful and has been published in prestigious journals, such as Psychological Bulletin, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and American Psychologist. Bob’s refereed articles and chapters have been cited more than 50,000 times, placing him in the top 1% of all scholars in business and management. His research has been funded by several agencies, such as the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, the National Park Service, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Bob received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his PhD from the University of California, Riverside. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Houston in 2010, Bob was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Albany (1971–1978) and the University of Delaware (1978–2009).

Bob’s academic passion was also reflected by his patient and tireless mentorship of junior colleagues and students, many of whom are now professors and practitioners around the world. Bob taught his students to think deeply and held them to high standards of excellence. Despite his significant achievement, Bob was humble and self-deprecatingly humorous. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and students.

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