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Top 5 TIP Articles Shaping My I-O Psychology Journey

Bharati B. Belwalkar

As someone deeply invested in the dynamic field of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, which I am sure most of you TIP readers are, I find it both challenging and rewarding to stay abreast of the myriad trends, research, and conversations shaping our profession. In a discipline as ever evolving as ours, keeping up can be quite a task, and finding resources that consistently provide thought-fodder are invaluable. Among the various such resources that are at my disposal, I consider The Industrial and Organizational Psychologist (TIP) a delightful mix of serious and fun pieces.

My Connection to TIP

Perhaps, at first, having two of my professors serving as TIP editors (Lisa Steelman and Steven Toddy) and reading the “On the Legal Front” column as an assigned reading for a graduate class may have turned me to TIP, but over the years, its influence on my academic and professional life has only grown.

With the current issue’s theme of From Hugo to AI, I get to look back at some of my memorable TIP-reading experiences. I, therefore, find it both a pleasure and a privilege to share my Top 5 list of TIP articles.

To put things in perspective, I must mention that I have been a fairly regular TIP reader (and a sporadic contributor to TIP) since my entry into the I-O world, so my Top 5 list has outranked at least 25 other TIP articles (if not more)!

#5: The Supreme Court Ruling in Ricci v. DeStefano. They say, “in the library of life, the first chapters hold ink more indelible than any that follow.” At Number 5, therefore, is the first TIP article I ever read.

My journey with TIP began in the spring of 2010 when I had to read Arthur Gutman and Eric Dunleavy’s article for a Personnel Law class. The article was in a regular TIP column titled “On the Legal Front,” which was about the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Ricci v. Destefano. As challenging as that article was to read, I remember learning a key piece of information: Disparate treatment is different from disparate impact! Perhaps it sounds trivial now, but as a first-year I-O master’s student, it was the beginning of a desire to deftly navigate the intricacies of personnel law—a subject that I found rather opaque then.

To me, the article was a long but masterful bridge between esoteric legal imperatives and I-O psychology. As an introduction to TIP, it set the stage for what I had come to understand as the publication’s remarkable scope and utility.

#4: Data Analysis “Back in the Day”: The Early Career Experiences of Nine I-O Psychologists. I have a strong interest in history and enjoy understanding how things have changed over time to become what they are today. This interest extends to dissecting the incremental advancements I-O psychology has made, leading to the systems, technologies, and methodologies we encounter today. At Number 4, therefore, is a walk down memory lane with nine seasoned I-O psychologists sharing their data analysis experiences “back in the day.”

This TIP “History Corner” article by Jeffery Cucina and Nathan Bowling provides a fairly thorough history of data analyses in the predigital and early digital ages, particularly as it pertains to academic research. The article covered various tools and methods researchers used, ranging from manual calculators to the advent of desktop computers and the “then powerful” software packages. I particularly liked how the narrative was peppered with relevant images (e.g., a Lexitron word processor, punch-card machines). The article ends by hinting at how much easier things are today and left me wanting more. Perhaps (out of scope), but I would have loved to read more on how these historical struggles have shaped current practices in data analysis.

#3: Technology, Organizations, and Work in the 20th Century. I must mention that reading the previous article got me curious about much older TIP issues and what they offered to the readers. So Number 3 on my list is a product of my sleuthing for interesting reads in the TIP Archives

This article was interesting to me for two reasons. First, it focused on technology—the area I had just begun taking an interest in as an early career scientist practitioner. And second, the article, because it came out in 1997 as the world was on the brink of the 21st century, holistically explored how technological advancements led to seminal changes in both organizational functions as well as the nature of work. The author, Philip Craiger, provided valuable insights into how these shifts will likely influence the future I-O practice, making it an essential (and seminal) reading for anyone interested in the intersection of technology and work.

#2: On Using Personal Experience for Research Inspiration. Number 2 on my list is a bit of an oddball because it not only borders on the informal side of TIP but also offers a serious and thoughtful take on research ideation and conceptualization. Reading the author’s thoughts on using personal experience for research inspiration was really validating! Having experienced a cross-cultural transition (due to being born/brought up in India but having moved to the US for higher education/work), I often anecdotally drew inferences about relationships among constructs in cross-cultural psychology. And empirically testing such relationships got me interested in empirical research at first.

The article struck such a chord that I emailed the author, Allison Gabriel, congratulating her on writing such a wonderful piece. Her anecdotal references throughout the article made reading it very interesting and enjoyable. And her writing did a great job of making the narrative personal yet keeping it professional.

Although I worked in a purely applied I-O space back then, I had (and still do have) an affinity for I-O research/teaching and frequently read her “Academic Forum” column. Besides this article, I remember enjoying her “unplugging” and postelection conversation articles too.

#1: What Is Your Orientation: Are You an I or an O? Here I come to Number 1: my most favorite TIP article of all time! I think the biggest inside joke or running gag within our profession is the friendly “rivalry” between the I (industrial) and O (organizational) aspects of I-O psychology. This article shares statements from 12 SIOP members who were invited to share their “I-O orientation,” exploring how and why they came to align themselves with one side or the other. The article, through their statements, humorously debates which side is more “scientific,” which is more “applied,” or even which has the greater impact on organizational effectiveness.

I remember laughing out loud when I read it the first time. And the article has had me in splits every time I have read it since then. I have heard that humor has an element of surprise, so if something can make you laugh repeatedly, it must have a sort of enduring wit. And I think this article does have it. Just take this for example, the author, Paul Muchinsky, at the end of the article states, “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a political activist. However, if someone will draft The Equal O Amendment to the SIOP bylaws, I will support it. (p. 60). Isn’t that funny?

Jokes apart, for those within the field, this I vs. O banter could serve as a lighthearted way to appreciate the diverse range of skills and foci that we I-O psychologists bring to the table.

Concluding Thoughts

In an age where information is abundant but not always accurate or insightful, TIP has consistently served as a reliable guide while I navigate the I-O landscape as a student then and as an I-O research practitioner now. From legal nuances to thought leadership, TIP has not only enriched my understanding of the field but also equipped me with actionable insights that have informed my practice and broadened my view of what our field can achieve.

In closing, I encourage everyone to explore the treasure trove that is TIP’s back issues. Who knows? You might just find the next article that changes your perspective, enhances your practice, or even shapes your career.

References

Craiger, J. (1997). Technology, organizations and work in the 20th century. Industrial and Organizational Psychologist34(3), 8997. https://www.siop.org/Portals/84/TIP/Archives/343.pdf?ver=2019-09-17-132349-223

Cucina, J. & Bowling, N. (2016). Data analysis “back in the day”: The early career experiences of nine I-O psychologists. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist53(4). https://www.siop.org/Research-Publications/TIP/TIP-Back-Issues/2016/April/ArtMID/20280/ArticleID/803/Data-Analysis-%e2%80%9cBack-in-the-Day%e2%80%9d-The-Early-Career-Experiences-of-Nine-I-O-Psychologists

Gabriel, A. (2017). On using personal experience for research inspiration. Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, 54(4). https://www.siop.org/Research-Publications/TIP/TIP-Back-Issues/2017/April/ArtMID/20299/ArticleID/915/On-Using-Personal-Experience-for-Research-Inspiration

Gutman, A., & Dunleavy, E. M. (2009). The Supreme Court ruling in Ricci v. DeStefano. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist47(2), 5771. https://www.siop.org/Portals/84/TIP/Archives/472.pdf?ver=2019-08-20-115440-530

Muchinsky, P. (2002). What is your orientation: Are you an I or an O? The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist40(1), 5760. https://www.siop.org/Portals/84/TIP/Archives/401.pdf?ver=2019-08-19-115733-197

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