Meredith Turner
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Awards Spotlight: Recognizing Distinguished Contributions Award Winners

Liberty J. Munson and Garett Howardson

As part of our ongoing series to recognize the achievements of SIOP’s award winners, this edition focuses on several of our Distinguished Contributions Award winners: Eden King, one of the winners of our Distinguished Service Contributions Award; Scott Tannenbaum, Distinguished Professional Contributions Award; and Dov Eden, Distinguished Scientific Contributions.

I have often wondered what it takes to earn one of these distinguished awards.

Distinguished Service Contributions: Meet Eden King

Distinguished Professional Contributions: Meet Scott Tannenbaum

Distinguished Scientific Contributions: Meet Dov Eden

 

Distinguished Service Contributions: Meet Eden King

Share a little a bit about who you are and what you do.

My name is Eden King and I'm an associate professor of I-O Psychology at Rice University. I study the challenges that women, LGBT people, religious and racio-ethnic minorities, mothers and pregnant women, and older workers face in the workplace. I also identify, develop, and assess theory-grounded interventions to overcome these obstacles and provide evidence to make work better for everyone.

Describe the work that you did that resulted in this award.

I'm proud to have served SIOP in a number of roles. I was a member of the External Relations, Scientific Affairs, and E&T Committees. I was chair of the LGBT committee. I served as SIOP Program chair and SIOP Conference chair before serving on the Executive Board as the officer for the Conferences & Programs portfolio. I have truly enjoyed my engagement in our society and I'm honored to serve as the president elect this year.

How did you get started?

I served as a student volunteer on the (then ad-hoc) LGBT committee; my advisor was the committee chair and invited me to join.

Why did you want to do this?

It is and was important to me that LGBT people feel valued in SIOP.

If someone wanted to get more involved, what would you recommend? How does someone get on the "path" to getting into one of these leadership roles?

Find a committee that is doing something that you care about! Indicating your interest on the SIOP volunteer system and then follow up with the committee chair to let them know you'd like to help. If you bring enthusiasm and dedication, more opportunities will undoubtedly follow.

What’s a fun fact about yourself (something that people may not know)?

I lived at a summer camp for 3 years!

What piece of advice would you give to someone new to I-O psychology?

SIOP is an organization composed of enthusiastic and dedicated members who together create knowledge, relationships and networks, and professional development opportunities where they would not otherwise exist. Get involved and you won't regret it!

 

Distinguished Professional Contributions: Meet Scott Tannenbaum

Share a little a bit about who you are and what you do.

I cofounded and lead a boutique consulting and research firm called the Group for Organizational Effectiveness. That’s a long name, so everyone calls us gOE. We celebrated our 30th anniversary last year. During that time, I’ve had the chance to provide support, research, tools, and advice to hundreds of companies, domestically and globally, including many Fortune 500 companies. I’ve also worked extensively with the US Air Force, Army, and Navy, and with agencies such as NASA. I’ve been fortunate to work with a great group of people on some very interesting challenges.

We capped our firm size many years ago so we could spend most of our time consulting, conducting research, and writing rather than on administration and management. My work is broad in nature, but I spend a good bit of time on challenges related to team effectiveness, learning, and change management.

I started my career simultaneously in both academia and practice. At the beginning of my career, I served as a professor in the business school at SUNY-Albany in parallel with my early work at gOE. I enjoyed both aspects of my professional life but eventually gave up tenure. That raised an eyebrow or two!

You’ve been on both the academic and applied sides of our field, and you won this award for Professional Contributions throughout your career. How do you view the science–practice gap?

I’ve always been interested in both sides and feel like my sweet spot is where they intersect. When I’m wearing my consultant hat, I often base my advice on what I know about the science. I think that’s a competitive advantage of being an I-O psychologist: We can bring theory and research to bear on problems; we just have to do so in a way that is practical and understandable. Sometimes, it is about being a good translator of research or incorporating evidence-based findings into practical tools. The Award Committee noted the gOEbase toolkit for HR and OD consultants as one of my accomplishments. That’s an example of trying to disseminate what we know in a useful, practical manner that reflects a true blend of practice and science.

I continued to conduct research after leaving academia, in part because I enjoy it and in part because I think it makes me sharper in my applied work. I’ve published as much after I gave up tenure as I did as a professor. Much of my research focuses on specific applied challenges, such as team research to help NASA prepare for future space missions, research on accelerating on-the-job learning for the Army, or research on what drives leadership success for a large financial services company. I don’t personally experience a gap between science and practice, and I think our field needs people across the continuum—scientists, practitioners, and bridgers who keep a foot in each. I’m probably a bridger.

What’s a fun fact about yourself (something that people may not know)?

I’m originally from the Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium, but I’m a Red Sox fan. Perhaps that tells you all you need to know about me. I have many friends and family members who shake their head when I show up wearing a Red Sox hat.

What piece of advice would you give to someone new to I-O psychology? (If you knew then what you know now…)

The best advice I can give is to build your network and surround yourself with people you respect, who you can learn from, and who you enjoy being around. I’m a better I-O psychologist (and a happier person!) because of the people I work and hang out with. When I’m faced with a challenge I usually can find someone in my network to provide ideas, partner on a project, or simply be a sounding board.

I’m still friends with and do work with many of the people with whom I went to grad school, including John Mathieu, Eduardo Salas, and Becky Beard. I’ve become friends with people who I originally met as clients. My colleagues at gOE have been awesome; most of what I’ve accomplished is only feasible because of them. So, my advice is to start building your network early in your career and surround yourself with people you like and can grow with

 

Distinguished Scientific Contributions: Meet Dov Eden

Share a little a bit about who you are and what you do.

I'm an I-O psychologist with a PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, conferred in 1970. I immediately immigrated to Israel, secured a post at Tel Aviv University’s business school, and conducted here all my research since my dissertation. I retired 10 years ago but continue doing organizational field experiments and attending conferences.

Describe the research/work that you did that resulted in this award. What led to your idea?

As a student I realized that the field experiment is the king of methods. This is due to its justifying supreme causal inference and external validity. This meshes with my intolerance for ambiguity, but there had been precious few field experiments on I-O topics. Even those few were, in actuality, quasi-experiments. No one had conducted a true field experiment in an organization. It was common knowledge that they are “too hard to do.” After all, randomization seems inimical to organization! That deterred even the most talented researchers in the field. To me, this was a challenge worth confronting. If successful, I would be doing work that is highly valued, and I would be doing something unique. Not just tweaking one more variable involved in a thoroughly researched topic like goal setting, organizational justice, or job satisfaction, thereby adding marginally to an already large knowledge base. I sought to do something that I thought was fascinating and that would create a “Wow!” reaction among I-O colleagues. I wanted to put my personal stamp on something.

The experimental method was not the only driver. The topic itself—the Pygmalion effect—was both fascinating and inherently experimental. While still a student, I learned about Robert Rosenthal’s work on the experimenter effect. Then, I read Rosenthal and Jacobson’s 1968 Pygmalion in the classroom. I was enthralled. If simply getting teachers to expect more of their pupils makes pupils learn more, would getting managers to expect more make their subordinates more productive? Because the independent variable is raising leader expectations, an experimental treatment is indispensable. If you merely measure leader expectations and follower performance and correlate them, you have not tested the Pygmalion effect. By definition, the Pygmalion effect involves raising leader expectations; nonexperimental methods cannot do that.

What do you learn that was surprised you? Did you have an “aha” moment? What was it?

My “aha” moment came when I realized that I can conduct randomized field experiments in organizations. I suppose in common with many psychologist colleagues, I have a methods fetish. Field experimentation is a method I could cathect. I felt much better about my experimental results than I had about the results of the correlational research on job stress and strain that I had been doing. Encouraged by my first successful field experiment, I did another and then another. I realized that they were not impossible to do and that I could do them. I have since thought of my reaction to these early successes as enhanced “experimenter self-efficacy,” a construct I conceptualized.

What do you see as the lasting/unique contribution of this work to our discipline? How can it be used to drive changes in organizations, the employee experience, etc.?

Experiment! Lately we are seeing more field experiments. It’s not a flood, but it’s a significant increase. Inasmuch as I-O involves finding ways to make organizations more effective, it is imperative that the researchers among us put effective tools into the hands of our practical colleagues. Correlational knowledge may be interesting, but its causal ambiguity renders it unreliable as a guide to action. A practitioner can't say to a client, “Change X and it will affect Y; although it’s possible that it won't because perhaps Y influences X.” Only experimental findings can inform sound practice. Advising managers to change something based on correlational results borders on malpractice.

Who would you say was the biggest advocate of your research/work that resulted in the award? How did that person become aware of your work?

My great friend and colleague, Allen Kraut, an exceptionally active and reputable member of SIOP, had known of my work for over 4 decades before he submitted my candidacy for the award.

To what extent would you say this work/research was interdisciplinary? 

My work leveraging the experimental methods is fundamental psychology through and through. Further, the Pygmalion notion originated in general, social, and educational psychology. It was by reading in these “cousin” psychology subspecialties that I stumbled upon the Pygmalion phenomenon. Another example is work I did on “implicit leadership theory,” which Uri Leviatan and I originally dubbed “implicit organization theory.” It was inspired by learning about research on “implicit personality theory” conducted by personality researchers. Thus, reading research in other areas of psychology has been the source of the ideas behind some of my research. Knowing this, I seek related knowledge by reading and attending sessions at meetings that deal with issues that are only remotely related to the I-O topics that I master.

Are you still doing work/research in the same area where you won the award? If so, what are you currently working on in this space? If not, what are you working on now and how did you move into this different work/research area? 

The Pygmalion research lead me to theorize about self-efficacy and to study it experimentally. This led me to extend the self-efficacy construct to means efficacy (i.e., one’s belief in the usefulness of the tools available to perform a job). I continue studying the effects of means efficacy on performance. My collaborators and I are testing whether experimentally enhancing trainees’ beliefs in the practical usefulness of business courses and sundry training programs leads them to perform better.

What’s a fun fact about yourself (something that people may not know)?

I enjoy listening to music, travel, and watching my eight grandchildren grow: the oldest completing her service in the Israel Navy and the youngest completing kindergarten.

What piece of advice would you give to someone new to I/O psychology? (If you knew then what you know now…)

Experiment! Define for yourself some area of research that fascinates you and that no one has thought of before or borrow one from a different specialty or from a different discipline, and study it experimentally in organizational context. Don’t be afraid to be different.

I-O researchers are always on the lookout for samples. If you’re a working graduate student, find a professor who is interested in research that your organization might be willing to support (and that interests you in terms of a dissertation). If you’re a professor, get acquainted with your working students; they can help you gain access to organizations. I benefited tremendously from employed Master’s students who had to fulfill a thesis requirement. The converging interests of students in need of thesis research and my need for organizational samples proved exceedingly fruitful for them and for me, and for our science.

Study the APA Publication Manual. Use it compulsively. Try to develop a writing style that is smooth, brief, to-the-point, and draws in the reader. Dare to entertain your reader with something bold and spiffy from time to time. Don’t be boring

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