10 Industrial, Work, and Organisational Psychology

Peter Macqueen and Tony Machin

Introduction

‘Psychology is a science and a profession’ (O’Gorman, 2007, p. 1). And thus begins John O’Gorman’s book titled Psychology as a Profession in Australia. In presenting subsequently as a panellist at QUT in Brisbane during Psychology Week 2011, O’Gorman expanded on this by observing that ‘Psychology is about people’. He also reminded the audience – which included school students – that mental health is only one small, albeit important, part of psychology’s relationship with human existence. On the other hand, work is an integral part of life for nearly all people, extending over many decades. Industrial, work, and organisational psychology (IWOP) plays an important role in understanding the interplay between people and organisations, and even society, through the lens of work. It helps us understand the impact of work – beyond the economic component – and with designing appropriate systems and interventions. IWOP strives to enhance organisational effectiveness while keeping the wellbeing of the individual clearly in focus. The following sections will describe some of the different areas where industrial, work, and organisational psychology can be applied, and outline the role of professional organisations. We also highlight the wide range of work contexts where people can apply their expertise in IWOP, and suggest some suitable career pathways into this profession.

The discipline and profession of industrial, work, and organisational psychology

While the term ‘organisational psychology’ is used mainly in Australia, as well as in New Zealand/Aotearoa, there are several alternative designations in use elsewhere. North America, Singapore, Japan, and South Africa use ‘industrial and organizational psychology’, whereas Europe and Brazil use the label ‘work and organizational psychology’. In the UK, ‘occupational psychology’ is the term most frequently used, while in Germany, there is a section of the German Psychological Society (DGPs) called ‘Work, Organizational, and Business Psychology’. Finally, Chile has a ‘Society of Psychology and Organizational Behavior’. It might seem confusing to students, employers, profession regulators, and to elected members of the government that there are so many different terms used to describe this profession. We recognise that this confusion may have contributed to an ongoing struggle to demonstrate its impact.

It seems timely for a new, overarching term to emerge: industrial, work, and organisational psychology (IWOP). [1] In early 2021, a draft of the IWOP Declaration of Identity (Kożusznik & Glazer, 2021) was released following consultation with various participants and bodies over several years. The introduction to this Declaration states that ‘The IWOP profession is concerned with both individual work-related wellbeing and effective performance’.  It also claims that IWOP is now considered a profession, and that professions affect societies. The introduction to the Declaration continues with ‘IWOP has a responsibility as a profession to support difficult decisions at the societal, organizational and group level, so as to always ensure that workers and worker-eligible people are reaping benefits rather than harm, by their work engagements’.

The IWOP Declaration of Identity is expanded through the inclusion of ten draft statements organised around four major themes: communication, contextualisation, dissemination, and integration. There are various elements within each of these statements, but the key components include the following:

  • We value wellbeing and human welfare.
  • We bridge organisational science and practice.
  • We ideate and innovate in all working situations and environments.
  • We balance individual needs with organisational goals.
  • We strive to employ ethical, evidence-based influence on decision-makers.
  • We ask rigorous and relevant questions to address critical issues.
  • We communicate broadly and are active partners in social dialogues.

The declaration makes a strong case for the IWOP profession to be recognised as contributing to all areas of work, whether from an employee, organisational, or governance perspective.

The development of the IWOP Declaration of Identity involves many organisations, and reflects the desire for global cooperation that is a very positive feature of IWOP. The Alliance for Organizational Psychology is a ‘federation of Work, Industrial, & Organizational psychologies from around the world’. The main members are four organisations: the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP), the International Association for Applied Psychology (IAAP) Division 1 – Work and Organizational Psychology, and the Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (CSIOP).  In early 2020, the Alliance created a new global partnership called the ‘Big Tent’, and many IWOP societies around the globe have now joined the Big Tent, including the New Zealand Institute of Organisational Psychology, part of the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS).

As of April 2022, there are sixteen network partners in the Alliance. Currently, Australia is represented only by the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology Australia (SIOPA). Formed in 2016, it’s an autonomous Western Australia-based body which is not part of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and is not affiliated formally with SIOP in the USA. However, at the time of preparing this chapter, the College of Organisational Psychology (COP) – one of the colleges within the peak professional body, the APS – was not part of the Alliance Big Tent. Given the challenges and opportunities facing IWOP in Australia, as well as globally, we (the authors) believe it’s important for mainstream organisational psychology in Australia to make every effort to join the Alliance as a matter of priority,  initially via the Alliance ‘Big Tent’.

The final organisation we want to highlight in this section is a relatively new organisation: the Asian-Australian Organisational Psychology Inc (AAOP). This organisation aims to enhance the Asian-Australian organisational psychology identity and to promote cultural equality for Asian-Australians. This reflects a more specific focus than the other industrial, work, and organisational psychology bodies we have reviewed.

What does an IWO psychologist do and where do they work?

You can learn more about becoming an IWO psychologist by:

  • talking with IWO psychologists – perhaps by attending a local meeting
  • searching for information online
  • talking with a psychology academic or careers advisor
  • perusing texts (particularly handbooks – we particularly like the three-volume The SAGE Handbook of Industrial, Work and Organizational Psychology 2nd ed.) which provide material reflecting the breadth, depth, and growth of IWOP globally. The astute student will strive to secure insights from local as well as North American, UK and European publications, and even beyond.
  • joining or following a LinkedIn group such as Organisational Psychology in Australia or SIOP
  • reading the eight career profiles towards the end of this chapter.

Another useful source is O*NET OnLine. Not only is this a very useful online tool for career exploration, but it’s also considered an essential starting point for any work or job analysis. See the text box on Using O*NET OnLine below for some suggestions about how to use this site. While you’re researching this field, it’s important to note that IWOPs work under many different job titles. You’ll see some examples of reported job titles in the report.

Using O*NET OnLine

  • Go online to www.onetonline.org
  • Enter “organisational psychologist” in the Occupation Search box
  • Click on ‘Industrial-Organizational Psychologists’ and read carefully, noting that this is all-encompassing, and that an organisational psychologist is very unlikely to be engaged in all of the tasks listed (there are 24 in total)
  • Complete the O*NET Interest Profiler by going to https://www.mynextmove.org
  • Click the ‘Start’ button under ‘I’m not really sure’
  • You’ll see results that align with the well-known Holland’s hexagon model of vocational choice (RIASEC) and be able to explore recommended vocational choices based on your levels of education, training, and experience

The APS COP website (2021) lists the following areas of practice where IWO psychologists can demonstrate their expert skills and knowledge:

  • workforce planning and role definition
  • recruitment and selection (including psychological testing and assessment)
  • learning and development
  • coaching, mentoring, and career development
  • workplace advice and advocacy
  • change management
  • organisational development
  • measuring employee opinions and other workplace research
  • performance management
  • wellbeing, stress, and work-life balance
  • occupational health and safety
  • human resources program evaluation
  • consumer behaviour and marketing.

IWO psychologists work in a variety of settings. While some are employed in government departments, the Australian Defence Force (see Chapter 15), or large commercial enterprises, many also work in academia and as consultants. Such consultancies can be small (such as sole traders) or much larger and comprised of fellow consultants from human resources, industrial relations, and business in general. Recent technological advances in fields such as personnel assessment and selection mean IWO psychologists may now be working with software engineers or data scientists. Research and consulting centres incorporated as part of a university are increasing in number. One of the examples later in this chapter  is from Sharon Parker, Director of The Centre for Transformative Work Design at Curtin University in Western Australia. The field of work design can be added to the COP list above and represents an additional area of opportunity for IWOPs.

This raises an important issue: the publicised impact of some of our IWO psychology scholars. On November 10 2021, The Australian released its Research Magazine 2021 containing a list of  40 ‘superstars of research’. Two of the five lifetime achievers in research nominated for the Business, Economics & Management category, Neal Ashkanasy and Sharon Parker – both IWO psychology scholars – share their stories later in this chapter.

Another key area missing from the COP list is human factors. The University of Adelaide offers a Master of Psychology (Organisational and Human Factors), and several Australian IWO psychologists work as human factors specialists within the aviation industry and road traffic and safety authorities. One such a psychologist, Allison McDonald, the Managing Director of SystemiQ, shares her story later in this chapter. Human factors are also referred to as ‘engineering psychology’ (Rogelberg, 2007) or ‘human engineering’ (Landy & Conte, 2004). In essence, the field of human factors endeavours to align the demands of the work environment with the characteristics and requirements of individuals. This can be accomplished via knowledge of human capabilities in designing effective processes, system linkages, and training initiatives. The addition of tools and techniques to enhance performance also forms part of the overall approach to human factors or ergonomics. Furthermore, we (the authors) are confident that IWOPs will make an important contribution to the growing field of cyberpsychology. Dalal et al. (2021) outline how organisational researchers could contribute to the important area of cybersecurity, as well as how this could represent a new and challenging area of professional practice.

The discipline of human factors highlights key issues such as human decision-making and error management, and stresses that these are a critical part of system design. When we consider human factors, it’s important to examine how the person and the environment (or system) can interact to influence human behaviour. Kurt Lewin’s famous field theory (1951) summarised this approach in an equation B=f (PxE), where behaviour is described as a function of the person and their environment. The P-E perspective is also discussed in Chapter 2 of this book. The notion of ‘fit’ between person and environment underpins one of the traditional mainstays of IWO psychologists: personnel selection – a topic addressed later in this chapter. Further, several large global organisations adapt this approach through the mantra of ‘systems shape behaviour’, and some of these organisations are focused on the design and implementation of comprehensive behaviourally-oriented leadership and management systems (e.g., Macdonald, Burke & Stewart, 2006).

The history of IWO Psychology: with an Australian focus

Kelloway (2019) claims the first two books in IWO psychology were Increasing Human Efficiency in Business (Scott, 1911) and Psychology and Industrial Efficiency (Münsterberg, 1913). In the early 1900s, economic and social trends resulted in a glorification of industrialisation and progress (Viteles, 1932). Any field that claimed to advance the interests and tenets of capitalism was widely accepted. We suggest that anyone wanting to understand the history of IWO psychology consult:

Koppes Bryan, L. L. (Ed.). (2021). Historical perspectives in industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429052644

Vinchur, A. J. (2018). The early years of industrial and organizational psychology. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781107588608

Koppes, L. L. (Ed.). (2007). Historical perspectives in industrial and organizational psychology. Routledge.

Vinchur (2018) provides a good deal of information beyond the USA, while Koppes (2007) and Koppes Bryan (2021) are very US–centric. The contributors to the 2021 edition are solely North American, as are the five testimonials in the book. Students can also consider the European perspective provided by Chmiel, Fraccaroli and Sverke (2017) in An Introduction to Work and Organizational Psychology: An International Perspective (3rd ed.). Similarly, a useful book with many well-known UK authors is Organizational Effectiveness: The Role of Psychology (Robertson, Callinan & Bartram, 2002).

Zickar and Gibby (2021) have developed four themes which they claim differentiated IWO psychology in the USA from other countries and cultures, while also distinguishing it from other disciplines such as industrial sociology, labour economics, and industrial engineering. These four themes are:

  • an emphasis on productivity and efficiency
  • an emphasis on quantification (and quantitative versus qualitative methodologies)
  • a focus on selection and differential psychology
  • the interplay between science and practice (this issue is addressed later in this chapter).

When reflecting on his highly productive career, Sackett (2021) noted the increasing tendency to focus on ‘organizational’ psychology rather than ‘industrial’ psychology. Industrial psychology often examines individual performance or agency and is more likely to use sophisticated measurement and quantitative methodologies. Personnel selection is a good example of ‘industrial’ psychology. Further, Luthans (2017), albeit an organisational behaviour scholar (i.e., an ‘O’ person), called for ‘dropping the outdated term “industrial” from I-O’ (p. 579). Thus, Zickar and Gibby (2021) needs to be evaluated against this background.

Feitosa and Sim (2021) provide a perspective on IWOP beyond the USA, but include very limited information on Australian history, and are incorrect in citing a 2006 publication stating psychologists have to register with the Psychology Board of Australia. This Board was only established in 2009. A more substantial discussion of Australian IWOP is provided by Hesketh, Neal and Griffin (2018). Bordow (1971), using a survey completed by 94 respondents, contributed an interesting snapshot of the state of the ‘industrial psychologist’ in Australia fifty years ago in terms of education, employment, and job functions. However, for a relatively recently published history of psychology in Australia, Buchanan (2012) provides a good starting point.

Vinchur (2018) claims Bernard Muscio was Australia’s leading early proponent of improving efficiency through use of industrial psychology. In 1916, Muscio ‘delivered a series of talks on industrial psychology in Sydney, which later appeared in print as Lectures in Industrial Psychology (1917)’ (Vinchur, 2018, p.163). O’Neil (1977; 1987) previously had elevated Muscio to pioneer status in Australian psychology. A Sydney graduate, Muscio undertook further studies in mental philosophy at Cambridge and then commenced pioneering work in industrial psychology in the UK with the First World War Industrial Fatigue Research Board (later the Industrial Health Research Board). Returning to Australia in the early 1920s, he delivered a series of lectures to the Worker’s Educational Association in Sydney, with the publication of these lectures being viewed as groundbreaking, globally (O’Neil, 1977). Vinchur (2018) noted that Muscio had once been an advocate of scientific management (Taylor, 1911), but had come to reject the analogy of the worker as a machine. Blackburn (1998), a lecturer in history, has provided a detailed account of the rise of industrial psychology in Australia in the period immediately following World War I, until the Depression era.  He noted that Muscio focused on the then drive for ‘industrial efficiency’ in Australia, and founded the Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy. This journal promoted ‘using industrial psychology to promote efficiency’(p. 122).

The earliest formal structure for IWOP in Australia was probably the Australian Institute of Industrial Psychology, established in 1927 in Sydney by A.H. Martin (Clark, 1958; Hesketh et al., 2018). It appeared to be modelled on the UK’s National Institute of Industrial Psychology (which suspended its operations in August 1973 and finally closed in 1977). This genesis reflects the strong influence the UK (and subsequently the USA) has had on the development of psychology in Australia. Until 1965, the APS was a Branch of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

World War II acted as a catalyst for progress in applied psychology in fields such as selection and assessment, training, human factors (or ergonomics), and career planning (Hesketh et al., 2018). However, it wasn’t until more recent decades that there was substantial growth in the field of IWO psychology. Commencing in Melbourne and Sydney, management consultancies started providing IWOP services from the postwar years (Young, 1977) – particularly from the late 1950s onwards.  However, Hesketh et al. (2018) attributes much of the growth in IWOP to the reciprocity between Australian and overseas research units, and the cross-fertilisation of the knowledge and skills which subsequently flowed through to students studying IWOP in universities. Historically, psychology has differentiated itself from other professions such as law through its strong university and scholar base (O’Gorman, 2007), although this distinction is not as clear in more recent times.

While psychology has not always been at the forefront of changes in society, during COVID -19 there has been much greater emphasis on psychological matters. However, this attention has typically been focused on mental health issues, rather than broader behavioural and social science implications. A major activity  near the end of this chapter invites students to explore how pandemics may be better managed by decision-makers making more informed use of IWO psychology and related fields.

Through this brief review of the developments associated with IWOP in Australia, it’s possible to see that multiple factors influenced the growth of IWOP. The early trend for IWOP to develop in tandem with international trends seems to continue and may even be accelerating. Nevertheless, there’s one historical element we believe requires closer attention.

The Role of Fred Emery in Shaping IWOP in Australia

Fred Emery – regarded as one of Australia’s greatest social scientists – secured a significant reputation globally for his work on socio-technical systems (STS) and semi-autonomous work groups (e.g., Emery & Trist, 1965). Emery (1969; 1981) was a pioneer in applying behavioural and systems perspectives to the emerging field of organisation development, and he was the inaugural recipient of the APS COP Elton Mayo Award in 1988. Elton Mayo was another famous Australian psychologist and was associated with the classic Hawthorne studies (see Muldoon, 2012). The British Library provides a nice summary of Mayo’s life and these studies. Hesketh et al. (2018), in citing O’Driscoll (2007), speculated that Emery’s ideas may well account for the relatively large focus on teams and groups in Australian IWOP Conferences. These events – launched in Sydney by Beryl Hesketh in 1995 – have typically featured the most prominent international IWO psychologists and contributed to the growth of IWO psychology in Australia.

Pasmore, Winby, Mohrman and Vanasse (2019) observed that socio-technical thinking (STS) is likely to re-emerge given the advancement in new technologies (see Self-Reflection Exercise 10.1). The rapid rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning is likely to pose challenges unforeseen even just a few years ago. Further, the emergence of the global pandemic subsequent to the release of their 2019 article is likely to provide further support for refinement in STS theory and its application given the global disruption and the impact at all levels of society.

Socio-Technical Systems Design (Self-Reflection Exercise 10.1)

STS emerged as a means of addressing issues in the British coal industry.

  • Access the following article:

Pasmore et al. (2019). Reflections: Sociotechnical systems design and organization change. Journal of Change Management, 19(2), 67–85. https://doi.org/10.1080/14697017.2018.1553761

  • Look at Table 1. and the classic STS design principles – do these still apply now more than 65 years later?
  • What about the STS design for the future (pp. 77–79)?
  • Does the O*NET OnLine platform and content need to be updated to reflect significant technological change over recent years?
  • Do you think the design and conduct of the STAR Lab is appropriate?
  • Look at Figure 3. on p. 78 and note the design elements and the three levels of outcomes. This mirrors the tripod on which stands IWOP: 3 levels of analysis in terms of individual, group and organisation, but is extended to societal considerations.

Finally, consider Career Story: Making Work Better Through Evidence and Practice later in this chapter.

Is IWOP a Friend or Foe to the Employee?

Carey (1976) provided a critical perspective on how industrial psychology and sociology have misused the evidence from a range of studies, including the Hawthorne studies. He stated that ‘Mayo and the Hawthorne researchers had been frankly paternalistic toward workers’ (Carey, 1976, p. 233). He also challenged the work of Herzberg and his model which downplayed the importance of pay as a motivator for employees. However, Carey is not the only person to have questioned the Hawthorne studies, or the interpretation of the data. Highhouse (2021) – a US scholar critical of the use of intuition at the expense of objectivity in decision-making – revisited what is known as the ‘Hawthorne Effect‘.  In explaining the enhanced productivity of the workers in the original study, Highhouse offered alternative possibilities involving human relations and group dynamics, or even being observed as a research participant.

Zickar (2004) analysed the apparent indifference towards labour unions by IWO psychologists in the USA. In doing so, he investigated the history of sociology and economics, and concluded that the neglect of labour union issues by psychologists may be attributed to the lack of early, ‘pro-union’ psychologists, and a hesitancy in appreciating the existence of conflict between employers and employees. He also noted that his analysis would be enhanced by reference to research and trends outside of the USA. Kevin Murphy, a former editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology, acknowledged the increasing focus of IWO psychology on work-family relationships, but was still concerned by the narrow focus on the concerns of managers and shareholders, rather than utilising ‘a broader set of perspectives’ (Murphy, 2007, p. 22).

Perhaps a more positive picture is emerging in recent times. In a keynote address delivered during the 28th International Congress of Applied Psychology in Paris in 2014, Emeritus Professor of Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management at King’s Business School David Guest presented a perspective which supported the view that contemporary human resource practices have enhanced both organisational performance and employee wellbeing. He concluded by noting that human resource management had provided a great opportunity for IWO psychologists to have a positive influence on policy and practice in the workplace. Nevertheless, in response to an article in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Guest and Grote (2018) remarked that they were concerned about undue emphasis being placed on individual agency in recent IWOP research. They argued for the need to, for example, look beyond analysis of the individual and focus more on job and organisational design for a diverse workforce. And, in another acknowledgment of the need to look beyond one’s immediate boundaries, they emphasised the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and how this could connect ‘organisational measures with regional, national and international approaches’ (p. 555).

Highhouse and Schmitt (2013) provide another perspective on the discipline of IWOP. They identified the discontent that has been percolating in SIOP for many years, particularly with the somewhat outdated name ‘industrial – organizational psychology’. They then proceed to comment on the various tensions that appear to exist in the field, namely: ‘I’ versus ‘O’, psychology (departments) versus business (schools), and science versus practice. However, these two ‘I’-oriented psychologists observed that tensions are not always bad, referencing Lewin (1951, p. 3) in noting that tension may be required for positive change. Nevertheless, the potential for tension between subgroups in work settings (for example, between management and employees), and the associated impact on IWO psychologists, reinforces the need for clear ethical guidelines. This is discussed in the next section.

Ethical Practice: a key competence in IWOP

In a session at the 28th International Congress of Applied Psychology in Paris in 2014, the incoming president of the IAAP, Janel Gauthier (Canada), remarked that the only element the various sub-disciplines of psychology across nations globally had in common was ethical behaviour. This information and discussion session was part of a lengthy project under the guidance of Sverre Nielsen (Norway), culminating in the International Declaration on Core Competences in Professional Psychology (2016). This document has been adopted by the two main international professional psychology bodies: IAAP, and the International Union of Psychological Sciences (IUPsyS). It has also been adopted by many national societies, including the APS. The Work Group – including two psychology professionals from New Zealand/Aotearoa – behind this important project continues its efforts, and an international conference is being planned for July 2022 in Slovenia. Representations and presentations from a broad cross-section of psychology sub-disciplines, and countries, are likely.

Key ethics resources for psychology students (and all psychologists) include the APS Code of Ethics (2007) and ancillary documents such as practice guides which provide valuable information and guidance even for experienced practitioners and scholars. As of April 2022, the Psychology Board of Australia is developing a Code of Conduct to replace the current use of the 2007 APS Code of Ethics (AHPRA, 2020). In addition, the reader is encouraged to consult Chapter 4 of this publication. However, ethical practice should not be viewed as a self-contained segment within a course on psychology. Instead, it should permeate everything that we do.

In the area of IWOP, students, practitioners, and even scholars, can gain great value from The Ethical Practice of Psychology in Organizations (2006), edited by Rodney Lowman. Although it’s aimed at IWO psychologists in the USA, Lowman’s case study approach provides explicit guidance on how ethical principles can be applied in different settings. It’s very relevant to IWO psychologists in Australia. For example, in Case Study 10, he cited the example of a US psychologist who moved to Paris and failed to provide feedback to an individual client following an assessment centre involving psychological testing. This reluctance by the psychologist didn’t mirror the cultural norms in Europe and the UK – and for that matter, Australia. In reviewing this case against the APA Ethics Code standards, Lowman (2006) acknowledged the competence and ethical practice of the psychologist from a psychometric perspective, but this psychologist did not adapt their approach when working in a different culture.

We consider this issue further in Self-Reflection Exercise 10.2 below, which is well-suited as a group or class exercise.

Ethical Issues for IWO Psychologists (Self-Reflection Exercise 10.2)

Read Chapter 4  of this book, ‘The Essence of Ethics for Psychologists and Aspiring Psychologists’, by Tanya Machin and Charlotte Brownlow.  You may also wish to dive into Allan and Love’s Ethical Practice in Psychology (2010), which provides some background on the development of the APS guidelines.

  • How do these ethical principles align with Lowman?

Consider Lowman’s case studies (cited above), as well as Lowman (2018) in The SAGE handbook of industrial, work and organizational psychology: Personnel psychology and employee performance (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 39–51). http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781473914940.n3

The September 2021 issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice also includes a focal article by Joel Lefkowitz on ethical dilemmas, as well as 11 subsequent commentaries.

Evidence-Based Practice and the Scientist–Practitioner Model

Gary Latham is a proud Canadian who has been actively involved in international IWO psychology for many years, particularly through IAAP’s Division 1 (Work and Organizational Psychology). Further, he has functioned as a director of the large US-based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), with over 250,000 members. He is a co-developer of a highly influential theory of goal setting (Locke & Latham, 2002). In Latham (2019), he describes himself as a ‘practitioner-scientist’. In his 2009 book Becoming the Evidence-based Manager: Making the Science of Management Work for You, Latham demonstrated how the principles of IWO psychology can be applied by managers in organisations. One particular case study he mentioned concerned a workforce with 1,600 people which was not performing well across a number of dimensions according to the views of their employees. A new vice-president instigated a series of ‘measurable action steps’, which included:

  • developing a vision statement
  • conducting a job analysis (sometimes called a ‘work analysis’ or a similar name)
  • selecting high performing employees based on job requirements (using structured, situational interviews)
  • building behavioural appraisals based on the job analysis
  • coaching employees based on the behavioural appraisals
  • increasing employee motivation through goal setting.

In another section of this book, Latham expanded on the above and included commentary on job simulations, the realistic job preview (RJP), and the effective use of cognitive ability and personality tests (or ‘questionnaires’ – a term preferred by some psychologists) in personnel selection. All of the above initiatives are examples of evidence-based practice. These activities are typically grounded in solid meta-analytic evidence (mentioned briefly in the next section), with relevant research appearing in respected peer-reviewed publications.

This raises the question: To what extent do IWO psychologists operate in an evidence-based manner? British scholar Rob Briner is well known for challenging IWO practitioners to engage in practices which are substantiated by accepted evidence. Although most of his presentations and publications (including podcasts) appear to be related to evidence-based practice for management, he is also focused on evidence-based practice for the profession of IWO psychology. For example, you can watch his presentation at the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) annual conference in Glasgow in January 2015 below (Video 10.1).

Video 10.1: Why Isn’t Organizational Psychology More Evidence-Based?

Evidence-based practice can be considered alongside what’s known as the scientist-practitioner model. There are various perspectives on this model, but it has been discussed globally over the decades.

O’Gorman (2001) outlined the history of the scientist-practitioner model and positioned the origin of this model at a conference held in Boulder, Colorado in 1949. With a focus on training programs for clinical psychologists, it appears the representatives at this conference were almost unanimous in the view that ‘the training of clinical psychologists should lay equal emphasis on research and practice’ (p. 164).  It’s beyond the scope of this chapter to delve more into how the then views of science have evolved, but you can see Popper (2002) and also Chalmers (2013) for more information. O’Gorman outlined a further criticism when noting that supporters of the model in its purest form were dismissive of tacit knowledge (Eysenck, 1953; Kanfer, 1990).

Apart from identifying that practitioners rarely conduct research, O’Gorman (2001, p. 168) highlighted an underlying tension that has existed in psychology for many years – one based on observation, measurement, and experimentation (psychology’s ‘laboratory’ base), and the other ‘based on holism and humanism’. Psychology emerged out of natural philosophy, with its emphasis on observation. Grayling (2019), in the Introduction to his book The History of Philosophy, mentions the rise of science and the birth of psychology. He continues with a brief commentary on artificial intelligence, cognitive science, neuroscience, and neuropsychology, observing that contributions are continuing.

Thus, it’s perhaps no surprise that the scientist-practitioner model and evidence-based practice can be viewed and applied in different ways within disciplines, and across time and cultures.

The perceived existence of a scientist-practitioner ‘divide’ is an important issue that was alluded to earlier in the history section of this chapter when citing Zickar and Gibby (2021). This divide challenges various psychological societies (including SIOP), and this matter can emerge when designing national and international psychology conferences. How to balance the needs of scholars or researchers against the needs of practitioners? The potential for different perspectives is also evidenced in recent survey results (n = 557) of SIOP members on the topic of the rated prestige and relevance of IWOP and management journals (Highhouse, Zickar & Melick, 2020). One-third of the qualitative comments from respondents were directed towards just two classifications: ‘research – practice gap’ and ‘over – abundance of theory’. These recent representative comments (see p. 287) suggest there’s still some way to go to close the gap. Islam and Schmidt (2019) called for IWO psychologists to be less focused on theory per se, and more focused on addressing the applications of IWO psychology relevant to business practice. In essence, challenging fads and acting as ‘debunkers and testers of business practice’.

Should the scientist-practitioner model continue to be the basis of professional training in Australia, and is it an appropriate model for developing our professional competencies? In taking the views of Lapierre et al (2018) a step further, perhaps the establishment of a better-structured, coordinated, and active process for research partnerships between academics and practitioners and organisations would assist with ‘closing the gap’. This could produce valuable results for all stakeholders over time – and for IWOP. This issue is addressed in the text box on Evidence-Based Practice and the Scientist-Practitioner Model below.

Evidence-Based Practice and the Scientist-Practitioner Model

This is not an easy topic to examine, but it is important.  This exercise is probably best-suited to students who have completed at least two years of undergraduate psychology studies. It’s well suited to class discussions, with the structuring of the topic not necessarily having to be on an adversarial basis.

Try to access some of the resources mentioned above, and in particular:

  • Latham, G. P. (2009). Becoming the evidence-based manager: Making the science of management work for you. Davies-Black.

  • Briner (2015) (Video 10.1)  (You can also Google ‘Briner AND evidence-based practice’)
  • O’Gorman, J. G. (2001). The scientist-practitioner model and its critics. Australian Psychologist, 36(2), 164–169. https://doi.org/10.1080/00050060108259649

  • Anderson, N., Herriot, P., & Hodgkinson, G. P. (2001). The practitioner-researcher divide in industrial, work and organizational (IWO) psychology: Where are we now, and where do we go from here? Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74(4), 391–411.  https://doi.org/10.1348/096317901167451

Search online for other materials via SIOP, BPS Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP), and EAWOP.  This should provide a range of perspectives.

  • What are your thoughts regarding evidence-based practice and the scientist-practitioner model?
  • Is this ‘tension’ necessarily ‘bad’?  (Consider Lewin’s comments.)
  • Reflect: How have you tackled this potential divide?

Scientific Enquiry and Research Methods in IWOP

We now turn to the issue of how we generate new knowledge in IWOP. First of all, consider this question: Is your work experience a good predictor of your future job performance? Most people would say ‘yes’, and the more years the better. However, this isn’t supported by the meta-analytic evidence (e.g., Van Iddekinge, Arnold, Frieder & Roth, 2019). These authors found that typical measures of pre-hire experience are, statistically, poor predictors of future job performance and turnover. Accordingly, hiring managers are strongly encouraged to use alternative or additional measures when making personnel selection decisions. This is a practical example of the importance of research. Please refer to Chapter 3 of this book for more about the research process.

Earlier material in this chapter described how psychology emerged from natural philosophy, and with it, an emphasis on observation and measurement. Taking this further, Austin, Scherbaum, and Mahlman (2002) outline the history of research methods in IWOP. Although their entry could be critiqued for being too focused on the USA, and the publication of articles appearing in the Journal of Applied Psychology, it nevertheless provides an insight into the changes and increasing sophistication of the methods used across three key domains – namely, measurement, design, and analysis. In discussing a century of progress in the field of IWOP, Salas et al. (2017) reinforced the centrality of these three components to the field.

These developments have been enhanced greatly by advances in technology and computing power, and more recently through artificial intelligence and machine learning. New fields or terms have emerged, such as ‘computational psychometrics’ (von Davier, Deononic, Yudelson, Polyak & Woo, 2019). Advances in statistical techniques include the alignment method (Asparouhov & Muthén, 2014), which can assist in streamlining the process of revealing differences between large groups – including countries – on constructs of interest such as personal values.

Stone-Romero (2011, p. 39) identified three general purposes for conducting research. The following list represents a slight adaptation of his material:

  • to assess relationships between (and among) unobservable constructs using manipulations or measures of variables that serve to operationally define the constructs – for example, establishing the relationship between general cognitive ability and job performance
  • to determine the effects of various types of manipulations of unobservable constructs on criterion constructs – for example, the impact of RJPs on subsequent employee turnover (recall, Latham (2009) discussed the RJP in his evidence-based manager book)
  • to determine whether causal or non-causal relationships between (and among) variables that are found in a study with a given set of units, treatments and observations generalise across other types of units, treatments and observations – for example, is a stress reduction intervention as effective for police officers in a child protection police unit as it is for surgeons in a trauma centre?

The claims of scientific enquiry can only be established when there is confirming evidence using new data. That is, the findings of the original study can be replicated. Nosek and Errington (2019), in examining the social and behavioural sciences, stated that across six replication efforts, only 47 per cent of the 190 claims replicated successfully. In 2020, SIOP established a Replication Task Force, with the brief to consider the establishment of an online publication devoted to publishing replications. Putting aside whether the replication is a direct or conceptual replication, it’s evident that this is an issue, particularly within social psychology:

The replication of findings is one of the defining hallmarks of science.  Scientists must be able to replicate the results of studies or their findings do not become part of scientific knowledge.  Replication protects against false positives (seeing a result that is not really there) and also increases confidence that the result actually exists (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2020).

Where replication is in question it should not be assumed that an original study is faulty and that the latest replication attempt is better because of its modernity. Perhaps findings from the original study are not as generalisable as thought initially, but the original study was still sound. Has the data from the studies been analysed accurately, and within the bounds of the assumptions or limits underpinning the measurement model that is being used?  For example, when scaling data using what is known as item response theory (IRT), with its ‘strong assumptions’ about the nature of the data being analysed, it’s important that the variable under consideration is relatively homogenous – or internally consistent. This can be problematic when using powerful IRT-based techniques – for example, to evaluate between country differences on Openness (to experience), one of the dimensions in the widely accepted Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality.

On a related theme, Ioannidis, Salholz-Hillel, Boyack and Baas (2021) published an article which included over 200,000 publications in their analysis of COVID-19-related papers. Of the top fifteen sub-fields with the highest rates of authors, there are zero entries from the behavioural or social sciences. Although Ionnadis et al. (2021) generally welcomed the proliferation of published articles, they did offer clear warnings in terms of:

  • ‘…the consistent finding of the high prevalence of low-quality studies across very different types of study designs suggests that a large portion (perhaps even the large majority) of the immense and rapidly growing COVID-19 literature may be of low quality’ (p. 11)
  • ‘Such fundamentally flawed research may then even pass peer-review, since the same people populate also the ranks of peer-reviewers. Flaws go beyond retractions, which account for less than 0.1% of published COVID-19 work’ (pp. 11–12).

It appears concerns over false claims in social media about COVID-19 are not necessarily dispelled when consulting ‘scientific’ papers produced during a period of rampant publishing.

Putting this massive – and at times hurried – influx of studies to the side, scholars and practitioners can usually gain increased surety by making effective use of meta-analytic findings. Oh (2020), in citing Schmidt and Hunter (2015), describes the primary purpose of meta-analysis, a technique which is fundamental in much of modern research in psychology. With this analytical technique, existing research findings from primary studies can be quantitatively evaluated by reviewing correlation coefficients or other bivariate effect sizes. The opening paragraph of this 2020 publication took this further with the secondary use of meta-analytic data (SUMAD), citing Schmidt and Hunter’s (1998) classic review paper which curated, summarised, and tabulated eighty-five years of meta-analytic research findings on the validity (both operational and incremental) of many selection procedures. All researchers, students, and practitioners with an interest in personnel selection should be aware of this 1998 study and an important update by Schmidt et al. (2016)[2]. The study cited above (van Iddekinge et al., 2019) was based on a meta-analysis involving 44 independent samples with combined case numbers (N) of nearly 12,000.

Validity and reliability are essential concepts in quantitative research – and subsequent practice – in IWO psychology. For a useful summary of the concept of validity, and the process of validation, see Sackett, Putka and McCloy (2012) in The Oxford Handbook of Personnel Assessment and Selection, edited by the prolific Neal Schmitt, an early mentor of many current top tier scholars.

The above discussion is focussed on quantitative methods. However qualitative methods also are used in IWO research, particularly within business and management schools. Pratt and Bonaccio (2016) provided data indicating that 18 per cent of articles in the highly-regarded Academy of Management Journal contained studies that involved qualitative methods, at least in part. On the other hand, APA’s Journal of Applied Psychology published less than 1 per cent of such articles, reflecting its strong focus on research with a deductive approach encapsulating theory and empiricism (see Spector et al., 2014, discussed later in this section). Administrative Science Quarterly and Organization Science both had solid representation (over 20 per cent) of studies with a qualitative element.

Qualitative methods are an important part of psychology. Locke and Golden-Biddell (2002) presented a useful matrix comparing the modernist, interpretivist, and postmodernist paradigms. It’s not practical to discuss the history and philosophy of qualitative research here, but the following three qualitative methods, drawn in main part from Locke and Golden-Biddle (2002), are relevant:

  • Action Research – This grew out of Kurt Lewin’s (1951) field theory and the conceptualisation of planned organisational change. The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) is a good source of examples of Action Research.
  • Ethnography – Informed by cultural theory, ethnographists can take a very personalised approach, using participant observation and unstructured interviewing as the prime data gathering techniques. Archival documents and various records can also be used, with technology and computer-aided interpretive textual analysis greatly assisting in recent years. One of the criticisms of the personalised approach is how the presence of an observer may change the fundamental dynamics of a situation. A ‘hidden’ observer raises clear ethical concerns, however. Margaret Mead’s (1928) Coming of Age in Samoa is a prime example of the ethnographic approach. Despite being strong supporters of applied measurement theory and empirical approaches, Zickar and Carter (2010) advocated a ‘reconnection with the spirit of ethnography’ in organisational research.
  • Grounded Theory – With its association with sociology, grounded theory is very much involved with the study of life at work. Instead of developing theories prior to data gathering, known as ‘a priori’ theorising, models or theories are generated using an inductive process. From the ‘ground up’, in effect. Locke and Golden-Biddell (2002) cited a well-known grounded theory study aimed at exploring perceptions and interactions involving medical staff, dying patients, and families within a hospital setting.

It shouldn’t be assumed that inductive research precludes the use of quantitative or empirical methods – in fact, it can be quite data–driven. Spector et al. (2014) highlighted the shift from exploratory and empirical approaches to one which can be called ‘deductive theory-based hypothesis confirmation’.  In this special inductive research issue of the Journal of Business Psychology, Spector et al. (2014, p. 499) noted that ‘the field needs more inductive research to serve as the basis for theory’. These five highly regarded authors expressed a desire to see the pendulum swing back from the undue focus on deductive approaches – with a priori theorising – to a position where exploratory approaches are once again employed. In doing so, the development of new theories or models is likely to be advanced, and with it an enhanced understanding of behavioural phenomena. However, the focal article by Pratt and Bonaccio (2016) painted a picture of little change, with still limited qualitative research appearing in the top IWO psychology journals.

Other qualitative methods are discussed in Gephart (2013) and Wilhelmy and Kohler (2021). In a special issue of the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology (December 2000), the repertory grid technique is featured – a moderately popular methodology used in the UK. Based on the personal construct theory of Kelly (1955), one of this chapter’s authors (Peter Macqueen) has used this technique to supplement psychometric and standard interview approaches in vocational and career assessment. This 2000 publication also contained an article describing a semi-structured co-research model, with the two authors affiliated with either a local government centre or a business school (Hartley & Benington, 2000).

Generational Differences and Cross-Sectional Design

  • Before reading the reference below, discuss in small groups whether you think there are differences in values between the generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z. Discuss whether you think there are/are not differences, and why.
  • Putting on your IWOP hat, how would you go about evaluating the nature and extent of possible differences?
  • What are some of the issues you would need to consider in conducting this research?
  • Now, read the following chapter:

Gentile, B., Wood, L. A., Twenge, J. M., Hoffman, B. J., & Campbell, W. K. (2015). The problem of generational change: Why cross-sectional designs are inadequate for investigating generational differences. In C. E. Lance & R. J. Vandenberg (Eds.), More statistical and methodological myths and urban legends: Doctrine, verity and fable in organizational and social sciences (pp. 100–111). Routledge.

  • Does this change your views? Do you need to consult the literature further? Does it change your approach to drawing conclusions which are based primarily on personal experience? Is terminology also an issue here?
  • Engaging in a potential research project? Third- and fourth-year students, and postgraduates, are encouraged to consult not only the above book by Lance & Vandenberg, but also their original 2009 publication, Statistical and Methodological Myths and Urban Legends.

 

Educational Requirements for IWO Psychologists: necessary? and sufficient?

Hesketh et al. (2018) concluded their chapter with a discussion of matters pertinent to the education and registration of psychologists who have pursued postgraduate training in their niche field, known as an Area of Practice Endorsement (AoPE) for registration purposes via the PsyBA. In Australia, there are currently nine such AoPEs, including organisational psychology, whereas there are only four vocational Scopes of Practice in New Zealand/Aotearoa: clinical, counselling, educational, and more recently, neuropsychology.

Hesketh et al. (2018) make a strong case for students to look beyond the core subjects as stipulated by the body which controls educational standards for psychology in Australia, the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). It’s appointed as an external accreditation entity for the psychology profession in Australia under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009. On the APAC website, you can click on the ‘Students’ tab, then go down to ‘Pathways to registration’ to view a schematic illustrating the different pathway options. A great deal of other information is available on this website, including a listing of the current accreditation status of educational providers of psychology programs in Australia. Hesketh et al. (2018), and the chapter you’re currently reading, bring to light the changing scene in Australia. The profession is becoming much more health-oriented in this country, but this may also be a global phenomenon according to senior IWO psychologists overseas. However, it’s our understanding that other jurisdictions such as New Zealand/Aotearoa and the UK have less onerous or restrictive systems, while still providing adequate protection for the public. We agree with Hesketh et al. (2018) that this argument needs to be advanced.

It’s beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss the European educational system for psychologists. However, Lunt, Peiró, Poortinga and Roe (2015, Appendix 5, p. 213) outline the development and requirement of the European Certificate in Psychology – commonly referred to as the ‘EuroPsy’ – which is aimed at least at a bachelor level. Apart from the usual array of course content in the domain of ‘knowledge’, the EuroPsy framework for first phase, as it is known, includes (knowledge of) non-psychology theories from epistemology, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology.

Our conclusion provides a recommendation for Australian psychology undergraduates to study at least some of these subjects.

The standard of psychological science training in Australia is well-regarded.  Nevertheless, we recommend you consider the following:

  • Where do you want to channel your talents? What are your interests, and even values?
  • Is it important for you to call yourself a ‘psychologist’, or become an endorsed ‘organisational psychologist’?
  • Plan to enrich your educational experience by pursuing non-psychology subjects.
  • Secure some relevant work experience to assist your decision-making.
  • Discuss your thoughts with a range of people, including those in quality business schools. But keep in mind that that some (endorsed) psychologists, after much effort and some early sacrifices, may be vulnerable to a cognitive bias related to the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ (Thaler, 1980; Kahneman, 2011).

For most professionals, postgraduate qualifications will be increasingly expected, and this trend is expected to continue. This is something to keep in mind, although it doesn’t mean you need to pursue the six years of fulltime equivalent study as a psychology student, followed by a period being supervised as a provisional registrant, unless you want to be eligible to be registered and have the endorsed area of practice of ‘organisational psychologist’. Alternative postgraduate pathways may be available, as outlined by Hesketh et al. (2018), although this is likely to compromise your ability to use the title of ‘psychologist’ or ‘organisational psychologist’.

But some employers can place more weight on the qualities of the psychology trained applicant rather than their qualifications or registration status.

For example: A leading psychology student at a top-tier Australian university moved to Sydney after completing his fourth year of studies just a few years ago. Now in his late twenties, he is a senior analyst in London, working with an information technology and services company with over 2,000 employees. During his undergraduate studies he had demonstrated outstanding academic ability as well as initiative, entrepreneurship, and good interpersonal skills. The Sydney consultancy recognised his talents and potential, even though he had completed only four years of university education.

The Richness of IWOP including Australian examples

Given that IWO psychology addresses issues at the individual, group and organisational levels – and even at a societal level – it’s no surprise that this is reflected in the vast array of publications available to those interested in IWO psychology. SIOP has been prolific in its publication efforts, particularly with respect to a range of books published via Jossey-Bass and Routledge. In Figure 10.1 below, 56 SIOP books are displayed on bookshelf, from Organizational Climate and Culture (1990) in the top right, through to Social Networks at Work (2020) in the bottom left. We recommend that all students start a similar library and build their collection of resources across their career.

Books in book shelf
Figure 10.1: Library of  IWO Psychology Books Published By Jossey-Bass and Routledge. Photography by chapter authors.
The Richness of IWOP: Beyond Traditional Boundaries

Look closely at Figure 10.1 – you’ll notice an extensive array of topics, with books from more recent years reflecting the increasing importance and impact of big data and technology. All books are edited, with chapters from various authors addressing different but related themes, and perhaps adopting different approaches or methodologies.

Look at topics which may be considered non-traditional. These topics are revealed in titles such as The Psychology of Entrepreneurship (2007), Errors in Organizations (2011), and more recently, Using Industrial/Organizational Psychology for the Greater Good: Helping Those Who Help Others (2013).

In Using Industrial/Organizational Psychology for the Greater Good, there’s a chapter co-authored by Michael Frese, a former president of IAAP. He’s a also co-editor of the other two books mentioned, and is a good example of an IWOP scholar who has worked successfully at various levels with organisations and across countries. With joint appointments from Singapore and Germany, he has researched matters such as personal initiative, training, and learning from errors and experiences. In particular he has focussed on the development of entrepreneurship and poverty reduction programs in emerging economies, taking a scientist-practitioner perspective and an action theory approach.

In Using Industrial/Organizational Psychology for the Greater Good, there is a chapter co-authored by Stuart Carr, Professor of Psychology at Massey University, Aotearoa/New Zealand, globally renowned for his use of IWOP for humanitarian purposes. Another chapter is co-authored by Michael Gielnik and Michael Frese, addressing entrepreneurship and poverty reduction, and the application of IWO psychology in developing countries. Back in Australia, there is the work of Charmine Härtel. As part of her inclusive entrepreneurship program, Härtel recently released some fascinating and relevant findings in the fourth most influential journal in the field of management, the Journal of Business Venturing. This study (Mafico, Krzeminska, Härtel, & Keller, 2021) – conducted with one of her PhD students and his other supervisors – has shown how different intellectual experiences of migrants show up in the way they organise their enterprises. For example, immigrants who had early experiences of inclusion tended to balance social and commercial goals and staff enterprises with individuals from their host and heritage cultures. In contrast, immigrants who had early experiences of exclusion tended to focus on social goals directed at their heritage country and to staff their enterprises with individuals from their heritage culture. It also found that the cultural gender expectations immigrant women grew up with influenced the degree to which they pursued social and gender normative organisational goals. Härtel and her colleagues are now seeking to leverage their findings to help migrants successfully start up and run businesses.

Stories From Australian IWO Psychologists

The section above highlights some of Härtel’s recent work, with implications for migrants and business. The following reveals some of her background and professional journey, as well as that of seven other Australian IWO psychologists: four practitioners and four scholars in total (represented in Figure 10.2), although at times the lines are blurred.

Map of Australia with major cities marked with IWOP across Australia
Figure 10.2: IWOP Across Australia

Brisbane

Career Story: Emotions at Work

Neal M. Ashkanasy OAM, PhD  

My journey began many years ago when I first set eyes on a construction site. I knew then that my career would be in civil engineering. I loved maths and science at school and could not wait to begin my chosen career. I studied at Monash University because it was a new and exciting institution at the time, and I was not disappointed. My major interest was in water resources engineering, so upon graduation in 1966, I enrolled in the water engineering master’s program at the University of New South Wales, and soon had a job with the Queensland State Water Authority. My first job, however, was not what I expected. I was given a crew of 180 men (yes, all men in those days) and told to go out into the bush and build a town to accommodate 1,500 workers and their families![1] That was how I first learnt that the main requirement for an engineering career was not technical, but people skills.

After 18 years in my engineering career, I managed to achieve some level of success,[2] but I became concerned that engineers – while good at the technical side of their work – were paradoxically all too often failing in the (all important) people management side. To try to understand this paradox, I enrolled in the psychology program at the University of Queensland, eventually graduating with a PhD in social and organisational psychology.[3] I also made up my mind that I would move to an academic research career to study how organisational leaders could improve their performance as people managers. I soon came to realise, however, that cognitive and behavioural theories of leadership failed to explain organisational leaders’ performance failings, and that this was because leadership researchers had ignored the importance of emotions in leadership and decision-making. After coming to that realisation, I decided to devote my research career to studying the role emotions play in organisations and especially in organisational leadership. Over my 35-year career as an organisational psychology researcher, I have managed to publish over 750 books and scientific papers. I like to believe that I have accomplished at least a little of what I set out to do, and that my work has been recognised by my peers, including the 2011 Elton Mayo Award for Distinguished Research and Teaching.[4] I am especially proud that my work has helped organisational leaders to understand that improving their emotional intelligence is an essential key to success.

References

Ashkanasy, N. M., & Dorris, A. D. (2017). Emotions in the workplace.  Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4, 67–90. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032516-113231

[1] The town was the construction township for Fairbairn Dam, located near Emerald in Queensland’s Central Highlands.

[2] Chair of the Institution of Engineers’ National Committee on Hydrology and Water Resources.

[3] My thesis topic was Supervisors’ responses to subordinate performance.

Career Story: Behavioural Economics

Phil Slade, Co-Founder of Decida

Following a relatively successful professional career in the arts as a composer for film and theatre, I transitioned to psychology in my early thirties. I was always curious about how music, sound, lighting, and story-telling influence people’s emotions and perceptions, and figured that this was a natural step in pursuing that curiosity. The role that emotion, cognitive bias, and awareness has on decision-making was the focus of my thesis during my Master of Organisational Psychology program, and I have never looked back since.

Working in the field of judgement and decision-making means my organisational psychological journey has had to cover areas such as emotion, behavioural economics, individual differences, social psychology, politics, and traditional economics. There are many fantastic books that can help you to start exploring this space, and my top recommendations appear bellow.

This mix of expertise has led to working with a raft of major institutions (most notably Westpac, NAB, Suncorp, Queensland Health, SunSuper, ASIC, APRA, The World Bank, Queensland Treasury, and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority) to help assess and develop products and services that lead to better financial decision for customers.

My work is mostly a combination of presentations to boards and executive leadership teams, leadership and emotional intelligence workshops, developing and delivering ethical assessments of financial products and services, coaching for influential decision-makers, overseeing and helping deliver large scale change and innovation initiatives, and playing the role of lead negotiator in sensitive negotiations.

This work has also graciously led to many opportunities to write and publish. This has included two books –Behavioural Economics for Business (2016) and Going Ape S#!t (2020) – a regular column for Money Magazine, many podcast interviews, and being a regular commentator in the media generally regarding the psychology of financial decision-making and emotional reactivity. This part of my work is particularly satisfying because I believe it helps demystify key psychological concepts and helps make our society better decision-makers collectively and individually.

Through our work with digital innovation and transformation, we were able to develop products (both digital and physical products) that improve mental health and emotional intelligence. This has led to experimentation with artificial intelligence, big data, digital user experiences, and wearable tech applications. One of the most exciting developments is a check in and emotional ‘switch’ app that is being used in schools and workplaces to track and improve mental health and wellbeing and increase emotional intelligence. Bridging the gap between psychological insights and embedded behaviour change is immensely satisfying, and it all started with organisational psychology.

Recommended Reading

  • Thinking Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman, 2001)
  • Going Ape S#!t  (Phil Slade, 2020)
  • Looking For Spinoza (Antonio Domasio, 2003)
  • Freakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, 2005)
  • The Ethics of Influence (Cass Sunstein, 2016)
Career Story: A Consulting Journey: Career Musings

Dr Doug MacKie, CSA Consulting 

In my final year as an undergraduate studying psychology (in the UK), we got the opportunity to learn about the applied domains from practitioners in the field. Clinical appealed to me as I came from a medical family so the territory was familiar, and it offered significant job security due to the high barriers of entry and almost unlimited demand. Being accepted into the postgraduate training program in clinical psychology was highly competitive and required experience which I obtained as a research assistant on a project on the neuropsychology of Alzheimer’s disease. I was fortunate to be successful with my first application and completed the two-year Master of Science (MSc) at Manchester University in the UK. What really engaged me about the course was the applied component – we would literally be taught a subject one day and be applying it in a clinical setting the next.

There was no shortage of jobs available on graduation so I took the opportunity to travel for a year and undertook a locum in a psychiatric hospital in Brisbane as part of my trip. On return to the UK, I specialised in adult mental health and general medicine and moved relatively quickly up the career structure within the public sector in the UK. I was several years into my clinical career before I felt the dissatisfaction creeping in. Clinical training had provided a rarefied and protected environment in which to practice, but full-time work exposed me to the politics and turf wars that had been largely hidden. This combined with the limited vision of success – clients were discharged on symptom remission which to me seemed like the time to increase engagement, not remove it. Positive psychology held a strong ideological and increasing empirical pull for me, and organisational psychology offered the opportunity to work with those already high functioning to see if I could add value in that setting. The final issue that completed my disillusionment with the clinical pathway was the realisation that the over-reliance on clinical skills had not prepared me in any way for the organisational, political, and leadership demands of senior clinical roles. Levelised leadership had been completely overlooked in clinical training.

After retraining in organisational psychology, and enduring the obligatory time in a consultancy practice, I opened my own business in Brisbane. The erratic income and uncertainty of business development was more than compensated for by the autonomy and sense of personal responsibility that comes from both designing and delivering a bespoke solution to the client’s needs. It took me a while to realise the importance of purpose in my work, and helping organisations flourish and deal responsibly with the emerging climate crisis has sustained me for the last twenty years. Coming from an academic family, research has always played a significant role in my work. Driven by a desire to enhance the evidence-base in workplace and leadership coaching, I initiated a doctorate in strength-based leadership, really sharpening my appreciation of the literature and credibility in the field.

When I first considered my transition from clinical to organisational psychology (to which I have added health and coaching along the way), a number of senior organisational practitioners advised me against it, telling me that it was destined to fail. This was poor advice. There is significant variety within the domain of applied psychology and transitions are easier than you think. Modular training programs and specialist titles and registrations tend to emphasise the differences rather than similarities in the various areas of applied psychology. Taking a step back and down in terms of experience and expertise was challenging but ultimately worth it.

My final advice is to really reflect on and understand the costs and benefits of different employment models and match them to your career stage. Very few individuals have the business acumen to go immediately from university into private practice. Most will want and need to hone and develop their skills in the context of a supportive and nurturing environment that provides the essentials like access to clients and peer support. Do not underestimate the value of these opportunities in your own development. I am convinced that my own experience within the clinical domain – that gave me insights into the public sector as well as a deep and profound insight into human motivation, resistance to change, behavioural and cognition models of mood, cognitive bias, and human development – has made me a far more effective practitioner that would otherwise be the case. As I consider my next transition to environmental and climate change psychology, the confidence acquired in previous domains undoubtedly underpins the optimism I feel that it will be a successful and engaging one.

Sydney

Career Story: Human Factors and Safety

Allison McDonald, Managing Director, SystemiQ  

Human Factors is a multidisciplinary field, drawing upon a range of professional disciplines such as psychology, biomechanics, anthropometrics, and systems engineering.  It is an exciting and rewarding career pathway, closely linked with both organisational psychology and cognitive psychology. I first encountered the field of human factors when working on a project with a mining research organisation for my Master of Organisational of Psychology thesis. I immediately enjoyed the applied research focus, and the opportunity to work with people and technology in complex and fascinating industries. Since then, my human factors specialisation has enabled me to work at an operational and strategic level with organisations such as Queensland Rail and Qantas in Australia, and Etihad Airways in the Middle East. It has also more recently provided incredible opportunities to travel and work with many different airlines across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in a consulting role.

Human factors applies an understanding of the human sciences – including psychology – to optimise the design and operation of systems. It uses structured methods to understand the way in which people interact with equipment, their surroundings, information, and other elements of systems to perform their tasks. This understanding of human-system interaction is used to help designers to consider the needs, abilities, and limitations of people who will use the systems. The integration of human factors in design (often referred to as ‘human-centred design’) aims to make systems safe, effective, and comfortable for human use.

Human factors professionals work in a wide range of contexts, from the design of products and built environments that we use in everyday life, to the design and operation of complex high-reliability systems in industries such as aviation, rail, health care, energy, or process industries. Human factors involves working closely with the people who perform safety-critical work in these complex systems and environments to understand their tasks and the context in which the tasks are performed.

In addition to being involved in design processes, human factors professionals may work in operational settings focused on safety management. In this context, they help organisations to understand the factors that affect human performance – both in understanding what keeps operations safe and effective, and in identifying the factors contributing to incidents and adverse outcomes. Integrating human factors into safety and risk management contributes to safer outcomes by identifying improvements required to equipment, procedures, job design, training, and other performance-shaping factors within the organisational system.

Human factors is a growing field of practice, and as technology continues to advance rapidly, the focus on how people interact with complex systems will only continue to increase in importance. Human factors is a rewarding field of work which directly contributes to systems that better support the people who interact with them.

 Useful Resources:

  • Video: ‘What is human factors science?’

  • International Standards Organisation (ISO). (2019). Ergonomics of human-system interaction – Part 201: Human-centred design for interactive systems.  ISO 9241-210:2019(E). Geneva: ISO.

  • Wickens, C. D., Lee, J., Liu, Y., & Gordon-Becker, S. (2014). An introduction to Human factors engineering (2nd ed). Pearson Education.

  • Wilson, J. R., & Sharples, S. (2015). Evaluation of Human Work (4th Ed.). CRC Press.

Melbourne

Career Story: Organisational Development: OB and Broader Applications of Social Science in Organisational Life

Charmine E. J. Härtel, Distinguished Professor of Management, Inclusive Employment and Entrepreneurship 

I come from a blue-collar background, growing up first on isolated islands and a native community in Alaska, and later a small country town in Montana. My early experiences were of a collectivist society where I was a valued child of the community and oblivious to notions of race or exclusion, i.e., I did not know I was white nor did it affect my belongingness. When I left that small Alaskan community, I ventured to parts of the world where I was confronted with acts of racism and exclusion. It was bewildering to me to see how unkind people could be when I knew from the community of my childhood how embracing of diversity humans could be. This fuelled in me a strong desire to do work that encouraged the best of humanity to shine through. I decided to do this through obtaining a PhD in I/O psychology after vocational interest inventories I took revealed to me my interest in research and science, and that pursuing a PhD would be a good path for me to achieve meaningful work for myself. I/O psychology provided the ideal grounding to pursue my passion for supporting the employment and entrepreneurship of disadvantaged groups, as it coupled a deep scientific understanding of human behaviour with rigorous methods for studying it and developing practical actionable solutions.

Fast forward to now, and I’m proud to say I am a recipient of the Australian Psychological Society’s prestigious Elton Mayo Award for scholarly excellence, a Fellow of the (U.S.) Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA)  amongst other recognitions. The two research streams I have established have had both academic and practical impact.

The first of these – my inclusive employment program – has identified the features of positive work environments inclusive of all individuals (Härtel & Ashkanasy, 2011), introduced the construct of diversity/dissimilarity openness/closeness (Härtel, 2004; Härtel, Douthitt, Härtel & Douthitt, 1999), developed a human wellbeing-centred approach to HRM (Härtel & Fujimoto, 2014) developed a positive work environment toolkit (McKeown, Härtel, Bryant, Hanley, Kirk-Brown & Howell, 2010), developed a workgroup emotional climate (WEC) scale (Liu, Härtel & Sun, 2014), advanced understanding and practices of disability inclusive workplaces (Härtel, Krzeminska & Carrero, 2020) and Aboriginal peoples (Härtel, Appo & Hart, 2013), amongst a host of other things. Now, I am currently working on solutions to embracing neurodiversity in the workplace. Most recently, I co-published with a colleague and two of our research students a widely-publicised industry report on the findings of a global survey on autism employment. You can read our findings, many of which are myth busting.

References  

Härtel, C. E. J. (2004). Towards a multicultural world: Identifying work systems, practices and employee attitudes that embrace diversity. The Australian Journal of Management, 29(2), 189–200. https://doi.org/10.1177/031289620402900203

Härtel, C. E. J., Appo, D., & Hart, B. (2013).  Inclusion at societal fault lines: Aboriginal Peoples of Australia.  In B. M. Ferdman & B.R. Deane. (Eds.), Diversity at work: The practice of inclusion (pp. 520–545). Jossey-Bass Publishers, SIOP Professional Practice Series.

Härtel, C. E. J., & Ashkanasy, N. M. (2011).  Healthy human cultures as positive work environments. In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. P. M. Wilderom and M. F. Peterson (Eds.), The handbook of organizational culture and climate (2nd ed., pp. 85–100). Sage Publications, Inc.

Härtel, C. E. J., Douthitt, S. S., Härtel, G. F. & Douthitt, S. Y. (1999). Equally qualified but unequally perceived:  Openness to perceived dissimilarity as a predictor of race and sex discrimination in performance judgments. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 10(1), 79–89.

Härtel, C. E. J. & Fujimoto, Y. (2014). Human resource management (3rd edition). Pearson Education Australia.

Härtel, C. E. J., Krzeminska, A., & Carrero, J. (2020). Disabled persons in the workplace. In J. Syed & M. Özbilgin (Eds.), Managing diversity and inclusion: An international perspective (2nd ed., pp. 220-260). Sage.

Krzeminska, A., Härtel, C. E. J, Carrero, J., & Samayoa Herrera, X. (2020). Autism @ work: New insights on effective autism employment practices from a world-first global study. Final Report. Autism CRC. https://www.autismcrc.com.au/sites/default/files/reports/3-054RI_New-insights-on-effective-employment-practices_Final-Report_2021.pdf?v=29A0321

Liu, X., Härtel, C. E. J., & Sun, J. J. (2014). The workgroup emotional climate scale: Theoretical development, empirical validation and relationship with workgroup effectiveness. Group & Organization Management, 39(6), 626–663. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601114554453

Mafico, N., Krzeminska, A., Härtel, C. E. J., & Keller, J. (2021, May). The Mirroring of Intercultural and Hybridity Experiences: A Study of African Immigrant Social Entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Venturing, 36(3). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2021.106093

McKeown, J. T., Härtel, C. E. J., Bryant, M., Hanley, G., Kirk-Brown, A., & Howell, A. (2010). How positive is your work environment: The positive work environment toolkit. Commissioned research and report awarded through competitive tender for Victorian Public Sector Commission. https://vpsc.vic.gov.au/resources/how-positive-is-your-work-environment/

Adelaide

Career Story: Resilience at Work

Kathryn McEwen, Global Lead Working With Resilience

After a career that has involved most facets of organisational psychology, I now specialise in workplace resilience.

Around a decade ago I started to notice an increase in the number of people struggling at work. Change, work pressures, and having to do more with less were the main sources. I became curious about how people could sustain performance and wellbeing in challenging work environments.

I started by searching the literature for work resilience assessments and found nothing that seemed fit for purpose. This started a journey of developing my own! I have since published three books on the topic and led the research and development of the Resilience at Work (R@W) Toolkit. This includes measures of personal, team, and leader resilience. It’s been an exciting journey to take my expertise as a practitioner and use it to inform research.

Now, a typical week focuses on training and supporting a global network of more than 500 practitioners who use my work. I continue to develop new resources for them and hold webinars and community of practices where we come together to share ideas and experiences. In five countries I have regional leads who work with me in supporting and growing our R@W Community.

To keep my perspectives and skills fresh and relevant, I continue to coach leaders, mediate workplace conflict, facilitate workshops, and work with teams in trouble. With constant workplace change, it’s important to continue to experience firsthand the challenges on the ground.

As a practitioner, it is humbling that my work is also being used in more than 12O university studies internationally. Resilience is very topical so there is a lot of scope for research – especially post-pandemic. In psychology we emphasise the science-practitioner approach and I have been privileged to bridge these spaces.

Organisational consulting involves marketing. It’s been an interesting parallel journey for me understanding brands, being active on social media, producing videos and developing websites and assessment platforms.  I’ve also had to learn all aspects of running an international business.

My latest venture – which I would never have imagined would have been part of my career – is developing the R@W Team app and dashboard. It’s been exciting partnering with technical experts to deliver a product that promotes team productivity and wellbeing.

Our work as organisational psychologists continues to evolve and we will never be quite sure of the surprises ahead…

References

McEwen, K., & Boyd, C. M. (2018). A measure of team resilience: Developing the resilience at work team scale. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60(3), 258–272. https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000001223

McEwen, K. (2016). Building team resilience. Mindset Publications.

McEwen, K. (2016). Building your resilience: How to thrive in a challenging job. Mindset Publications.

McEwen, K. (2011). Building resilience at work. Australian Academic Press.

Winwood, P. C., Colon, R., & McEwen, K. (2013). A practical measure of workplace resilience: Developing the resilience at work scale. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 55(10), 1205–1212. https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182a2a60a

Perth

Career Story: Personnel Selection and Assessment

Patrick Dunlop

I completed my masters and PhD in industrial and organisational psychology at the University of Western Australia (UWA), and prior to that, I worked for a small consultancy that specialised in assessing candidates for jobs. Since then, I’ve been working in teaching and research roles at UWA and Curtin University.

My research is focused on the psychology of talent acquisition. This area is sometimes called ‘personnel psychology’.  I am interested in understanding the processes involved with attracting talent to an organisation, identifying the most important characteristics in candidates, and working out how to measure those characteristics, and in making selection decisions. Sitting over these processes includes how the rapid adoption of technology is changing recruitment and assessment process, the experience of an application process from candidates’ perspectives (Woods et al., 2019), and how organisations can manage and improve diversity through better recruitment, assessment, and selection practices.

Most recently, I have been focused on how technology has changed the interviewing process. Over the last eight or so years, organisations have been embracing the ‘asynchronous video interview’ (AVI), which is where a candidate logs into an online platform using a device with a camera and microphone, and provides video-recorded responses to interview questions. The adoption of this technology was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered a need for social distancing practices. It also offers many benefits to employers including giving reach to candidates from all parts of the world, and scalability. While AVIs do allow candidates to complete their assessments at times and places of their choosing, there are concerns that this technology does not provide a positive candidate experience overall, because the AVIs are highly impersonal, awkward for candidates, do not allow candidates to ask questions, and are seen as creepy or invasive by some (Likacik et al., 2021). Candidates are also concerned about how these interviews are evaluated, with many proprietors claiming to be able to use ‘AI’ or ‘machine learning’ to analyse video interview responses, giving rise to multiple ethical concerns (Tippins et al. 2021). In my research, along with several colleagues, I am working with an AVI provider to identify ways that employers can improve the experience of completing AVIs.

While this is just one example of where I am focused now, it is my hope that the research we do will help build an evidence-base for improving selection practices across the world.

References

Lukacik, E.-R., Bourdage, J. S., & Roulin, N. (2021). Into the void: A conceptual model and research agenda for the design and use of asynchronous video interviews. Human Resource Management Review, Article 100789. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrmr.2020.100789

Tippins, N. T., Oswald, F. L., & McPhail, S. M. (2021). Scientific, legal, and ethical concerns about AI-based personnel selection tools: A call to action. Personnel Assessment and Decisions, 7(2 ). https://doi.org/10.25035/pad.2021.02.001

Woods, S. A., Ahmed, S., Nikolaou, I., Costa, A. C., & Anderson, N. R. (2019). Personnel selection in the digital age: a review of validity and applicant reactions, and future research challenges. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 29(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2019.1681401

Career Story: Work Design: Making Work Better Through Evidence and Practice

Sharon K. Parker 

Much of my career as a researcher in organisational psychology has been dedicated to the creation of work that is intrinsically meaningful. This is ironic since various extrinsically-motivated choices led me to this career. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology at UWA, I took a research assistant job at Curtin University (which happened to be on work design) with John Cordery because its location was conveniently close to where I was living and the job met my salary criteria. Then, inspired primarily by the opportunity for overseas travel, I decided to pursue a PhD in occupational psychology at the University of Sheffield, UK, with Toby Wall.

It was in Sheffield I really fell in love with work design. Working with an electronics company in Leicester in which self-managing teams were introduced, I was astounded by the transformation I saw in the workers. To this point, I had observed that the work design literature had a heavy focus on outcomes like job satisfaction and organisational commitment, but this fell short of capturing the ways in which workers changed with good work. When the workers of this company became more autonomous in their work, they became more active and energised, more engaged and thoughtful. One of the people I talked to told me, ‘We’ve grown up, we’ve become more adult in our workplace’. I became a convert to the transformational power of work design, and I remain so to this day.

The importance of work design has heightened in recent years. Today, the global workforce faces many challenges, including a crisis of poor mental health (often due to excessively demanding work) and advances in digital technologies which can undermine the nature and quality of many jobs (Parker & Grote, 2020). These challenges represent an opportunity to create work that is optimal for human flourishing. This is the fundamental question of work design, concerned with the ‘content and organisation of one’s tasks, relationships, and responsibilities’ (Parker, 2014, p. 662).

Unfortunately, work design often does not receive the attention that it deserves among organisations and professionals. When things go wrong – like impaired productivity or job stress – most people do not ‘naturally’ think about work design as a cause. I see work design as ‘under the iceberg’ – a very powerful, yet unseen, force that influences the visible behaviours of job performance, absence, and turnover, for example (Parker & Jorritsma, 2021). My mission has been to bring work design to the surface, and this is starting to happen, helped by our SMART work design model we created to summarise the research.

SMART work is stimulating, mastery-oriented, agentic, relational, and has tolerable demands. I hope you get SMART work in your career.

References

Parker, S. K. (2014). Beyond motivation: Job and work design for development, health, ambidexterity, and more. Annual Review of Psychology65, 661–691. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115208

Parker, S. K., & Grote, G. (2020). Automation, algorithms, and beyond: Why work design matters more than ever in a digital world. Applied Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12241

Parker, S. K., & Jorritsma, K. (2021). Good work design for all: Multiple pathways to making a difference. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology30(3), 456–468. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2020.1860121

Challenges and Opportunities for IWO Psychologists

 The following provide a mix of clear challenges (such as the regulatory environment confronted by Australian IWOP), as well as topics providing a blend of challenge and opportunity (such as with artificial intelligence). The fourth and fifth topics introduce the tough questions: How can IWOP assist, locally and globally, in dealing with major environmental concerns, or pandemics?

The first two topics have been chosen deliberately to lead the way in this section, given:

(a) Registration of psychologists – its significant impact on course curricula, and the whole IWOP profession.

(b) Test adaptation – it provides an opportunity which can be grasped by psychology, and relatively quickly, thus securing early ‘runs on the board’. It ties in with the International Declaration on Core Competences in Professional Psychology, as discussed earlier, societal change, and even with the Closing the Gap initiative of the Australian Government.

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for Health Practitioners (NRAS)

Over the years, the issue of the licensing (or registration) of IWO psychologists has arisen several times as a topic for discussion. In 2017, a special issue of Industrial Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice (a publication of SIOP) included a focal article on this topic, with associated commentaries from various authors.  O’Gorman and Macqueen (2017) provided a summary of some of the issues from an Australian perspective and supported the view that a dual register system for psychologists in Australia would likely reduce some of the negative impacts resulting from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to registration. A dual register system would be consistent with that proposed by the APA in its 2010 model of licensing. The two registers or classifications under the broad banner of ‘applied psychologist’ are general applied psychologist (GAP) and health service provider (HSP). An IWO psychologist who sees themself also as a health service provider should be able to register with the HSP classification as well as GAP. These two registers could have different requirements and restrictions, with implications, for example, for the use of testimonials in advertising or social media, or for course accreditation and curricula requirements, and even aspects of professional supervision for registration purposes.

It’s worth noting the views of IWO psychologists in countries similar to Australia. In discussing the licensing views of IWO psychologists in Canada, Zugec and Michela (2017) reported that a survey of members of CSIOP resulted in over 89 per cent rejecting mandatory licensing. Further, 21 out of 22 past CSIOP Chairs were also against mandatory licensing.[3]

Feitosa and Sim (2021) referred to the ‘identity crisis faced by many I-O psychologists in other parts of the world’ (p. 73), specifically identifying the rigorous standards for registration and psychology course accreditation in Australia. Some could well argue that these standards are not only ‘rigorous’, but also unduly ‘restrictive’ and inappropriate in part when applied to a discipline which is very much connected to the social sciences and other fields. The positioning of IWOP in the world of science and knowledge will be touched on further in the conclusion to this chapter.

In foreshadowing changes to IWOP programs, Hesketh et al. (2018) surmised that with ongoing adherence to the current NRAS System, introduced in 2009, future programs are likely to produce graduates with blended skills including clinical and counselling psychology. While not stated, such inclusion must lead to a dilution of IWOP content. The changes in the regulatory and course accreditation requirements for psychologists have acted as a catalyst for the development of university programs producing graduates having business-oriented IWO psychology skills. However, such a development, as Hesketh et al. (2018) observed, is likely to dilute the link between IWO psychology and the core disciplines of psychology. Certainly, as traditional postgraduate programs in organisational psychology decline in numbers in Australia, the number of business psychology programs is likely to expand. However, in Australia graduates from such programs are unlikely to be able to call themselves a psychologist, let alone an organisational psychologist. Unfortunately, this trend is probably too advanced now to be reversed.

Psychological Testing: Test Adaptation and Effective Use of Tests

A theme of increasing importance for psychologists in Australia in general (and not just IWO psychologists) is the need for a better approach to the use of psychological tests, particularly where the principles of test adaptation should be employed (International Test Commission [ITC], 2017; Iliescu, 2017; Oakland, 2016). Psychological testing is undertaken across many domains (work, education, health, forensic and so forth).  However, this testing has often included tests (and at times norms or comparative standards) which have been transported directly from the source country (for example the UK or USA), but without appropriate adaptation, and with inappropriate or unsubstantiated assumptions about what is really being measured – that is, the constructs. A rigorous approach to test adaptation entails more than just use of forward and backward translation techniques. It also requires an investigation into the construct equivalence and measurement or scalar equivalence between the source and target tests.

The need for good test adaptation is particularly true in assessing First Nations people, but language and cultural appropriateness can also be questioned when working within various ethnic communities, and where English is not the first language of the test taker. Furthermore, the test itself is only one part of the assessment process. Using a model (after Bartram, 2010) corresponding to that used in project management and human factors, an effective approach to psychological testing has three connected elements which need to be addressed, namely: Product (the quality of a fit for purpose test), People (the competence of the test user – often a psychologist), and Process (the systems and context associated with the test use). For testing with First Nations people all three are critical. The importance of ‘community’ and the cultural competence of the test user should not be underestimated. But as Byrne et al. (2009) observed, typically psychometricians are poor cross-cultural psychologists, and vice versa.

To raise standards in psychological testing globally, and to supplement university and subsequent training, the International Test Commission (ITC) has recently launched a four+ module online self-paced program.

For a summary of the history of psychological testing in Oceania, the keen reader is referred to O’Gorman, St George and Macqueen (2022). The need for much greater cultural awareness and accommodation by mainstream psychology is an important issue. The necessary development of cultural competence for IWOP practitioners and scholars started to be addressed a few years ago in New Zealand/Aotearoa (e.g., Bryson & Hosken, 2005), but there has been very limited movement in Australian IWOP.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Technology: An Increasingly Key Issue

Given recent strides in technology and computing power, it’s not surprising to witness the development of, for example, automated job interview systems, use of facial recognition algorithms to predict personality or other characteristics, game-based assessments (GBAs), automated essay scoring, and multimedia simulations to name just a few. Further, with the rapid growth in artificial intelligence, there is clear scope for digital footprints – such as a person’s ‘likes’ on Facebook – to be used to evaluate someone, particularly in employment settings. Rust, Kosinski and Stillwell (2021) devoted one chapter to this topic, namely ‘Employing digital footprints in psychometrics’ (pp. 129–151). The next and final chapter in this small publication is titled ‘Psychometrics in the era of the intelligent machine’ (pp. 152–171). The authors went on to call for legislation to be enacted to control the inappropriate use of AI. (Note: The authors are, or were, closely associated with the Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, and the early work of Stillwell and Kosinski was used in the 2016 Cambridge Analytica saga. However, they quickly dissociated themselves from any involvement in this nefarious affair.)

Technological advances raise key concerns around ethical practice, as well as ‘transparency’ and what is called ‘explainability’. With advanced AI – such as deep machine learning – it’s not clear how an AI system may produce certain results, given the ‘neural network’ at its core. The initial algorithm is transformed by the ‘intelligent machine’, but the initial training data may be biased through human error. You can read a short white paper on artificial intelligence on the Compass Consulting website (Macqueen, 2021).

This is a rapidly moving field, but the people and ethical issues highlighted in several comprehensive reports on artificial intelligence published in Australia and globally during 2019 are still very pertinent. We will come back to this topic in the conclusion to this chapter.

Environmental Sustainability

The issue of climate change is frequently discussed in the media and in popular scientific publications such as New Scientist,  leading to polarised positions. Some large superannuation funds are now critically evaluating their portfolio, with climate change viewed from the perspective of risk management, if not a potential ethical issue. This risk assessment includes the risk of litigation by individuals. The case of a 25-year-old Australian man successfully suing the then $57 billion Retail Employee Superannuation Trust (Rest) (which has over 1.8 million members) for not disclosing how it was managing the risks climate change poses to its investments is a good example.

Globally, psychology’s professional societies are supporting behaviourally-oriented programs to address climate change. A meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2019 was attended by leaders from over 40 psychological societies, resulting in a signed proclamation in support of action.

Ones, Dilchert, Wiernik and Klein (2018) provide a taxonomy of employee green behaviour (ECB), referring to the ‘green five’. Further, the authors present a table (Table 16.2) summarising the meta-analytic relationships between individual differences and pro-environmental behaviours. Psychology’s connection with environmental matters is not new. The Essential Psychology series by Methuen included the publication Psychology and the Environment (Lee, 1976), although its focus was on the built environment. A more modern take on this is perhaps the emerging field of environmental neuroscience (e.g., Berman, Stier & Akeelik, 2019).

One of the practitioner stories above (A Consulting Journey – Dr Doug MacKie, CSA Consulting) describes a  psychologist’s transition from clinical and IWO psychology to environmental and climate change psychology.

Pandemics and IWO Psychology

COVID-19 has had significant effects on the world beyond that of a potentially dangerous virus invading human bodies. Various publications (since mid-2020) and the media continue to be awash with the behavioural impact on many aspects of life including, but not limited to, mental health and anxiety, increased substance abuse, working from home, and the effect of remote learning – particularly for school children and their parents or guardians and teachers. This is separate from the economic and political issues. Furthermore, various concerns have emerged in relation to the efficacy and fairness of lockdowns (state, regional, or local government area). Contrasting perspectives on ‘science’, the ‘collective good’, and ‘individual freedom’ have added to the occasionally heated discussion.

In a special issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, a focal article (Rudolph et al., 2021) was accompanied by sixty commentaries providing diverse perspectives. Some commentaries took the approach of examining the issue via a particular profession (such as nursing), while other commentaries viewed COVID-19 as an opportunity for introducing positive change during the pandemic, or to research the theme of leadership during a crisis, for example. An Australian contribution by Luksyte et al. (2021) approached the issue in terms of the potential to disrupt volunteering during the pandemic. (It’s not uncommon for ‘volunteers’ and smaller organisations to be overlooked in IWOP research.) The prestigious Journal of Applied Psychology has regularly published similar articles since edition 105 (8) in August 2020. Clustered in a sub section titled “Understanding Work and Employment in the COVID-19 Pandemic”, the articles typically reflect a deductive methodology and an a priori theorising approach. It also appears that collaborative research with other disciplines is missing in the above submissions.

Ironically, a relevant publication appeared in late 2019, just prior to the onset of the pandemic. Steven Taylor, a UK clinical psychologist, considered the role of psychology in dealing with pandemics. Taylor delved into emotional and psychosocial elements, as well as conspiracy theories and vaccination hesitancy. However, the index to the publication doesn’t include terms such as culture, stereotyping (although ‘stigma’ is listed), work, behavioural economics, nudging, and decision-making.

A book edited by the renowned Cary Cooper (2021), Psychological Insights for Understanding COVID-19 and Work, has provided models relevant to the world of work (such as the Job Demands-Resources Model of Burnout). Several of the articles had been published previously. Nevertheless, with contributions from authors from several countries – including Australia – it appears to be a publication well worth reviewing in addressing some of the questions below. A parallel publication is titled Psychological Insights for Understanding COVID-19 and Society (Haslam, 2021). Alex Haslam, from the University of Queensland, is a global authority on social identity theory (SIT). This particular publication includes chapters related to leadership, politics, trust, exclusion, and a range of community or societal issues.

Two Global Issues: What Can IWOP Contribute?

This is a challenging final activity, designed for relatively advanced students most likely, and as a group activity.

Before commencing, read the conclusion of this chapter and review prior material including the eight career stories from Australian IWOP scholars and practitioners.

The two topics above (environmental sustainability and pandemics) are both underpinned, generally, by ‘hard science’.  (Although it’s acknowledged that some individuals believe some of the claims within these debates are overstated.)

Psychology has a role to play in how we deal with both issues, although it seems that the medical science field, and politicians, firmly control the COVID-19 agenda. The key questions for group discussion and research are as follows:

  • Where are the ‘gaps’ between the current situation and the (realistic) future ‘ideal’ situation for both issues?
  • What are the key forces at play – either enabling or constraining satisfactory resolution of these issues?
  • How is IWO psychology currently contributing to dealing with these issues?
  • How can IWO psychology contribute further in closing the gap mentioned above?
  • Are there any models – such as Lewin’s B=f (PxE) – that would assist in some way? What about suggesting or designing a relevant research project?
  • Do you see a role for inclusion of a Behavioural and Social Sciences Unit – with a seat at the top table – advising National Cabinet in Australia on COVID-19? Your reasons? (HINT: see www.sbst.gov. In 2015 President Obama established a similar body to assist US federal government and federal agencies.)
  • And if so, what should be its Terms of Reference? What would be the structure, member composition and size of this unit? How would you establish the selection criteria for members of this this unit?  What would this selection criteria look like? And how would you select people meeting or exceeding this criteria?
  • Would you have an ‘onboarding’ process of some form for the members?
  • What resources should be allocated to develop and assist this unit?
  • Anything else to consider?

(HINT: this webpage from the World Health Organization may assist, in part, in addressing these questions.)

Employment Prospects for IWO Psychologists in Australia

The employment data and prospects for IWO psychologists are not clear in Australia, with any relevant data collected by the Department of Health (or collected by Health Workforce Australia prior to 2014) overshadowed by the dominance of, and focus on, health-oriented psychologists.Workforce planning by the department probably doesn’t include IWO psychologists. In the USA, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, just prior to COVID-19, had estimated good employment growth for IWO psychologists over the following decade, but the latest US projection is for only average growth. Health and school-oriented psychologists, however, are likely to be in great demand for a period.

Reliable data from the UK and Europe appear difficult to obtain without further research. And in the case of at least the UK, it’s difficult to determine the employment trends of IWO psychologists. As in Australia, there are numerous IWOP-trained individuals in the UK who may not be registered as occupational psychologists, but who perform a similar function.

The PsyBA publishes useful quarterly registration statistics, with tables in both MS Word and PDF formats. It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions from the data, particularly as COVID-19 appears to have produced a change in the mix of registrants. However, in reviewing the June 30 tables from June 2016 to June 2021 for those on the ‘general’ register (but excluding those provisionally registered or non-practising), the following statistics emerge:

  • As of June 30 2021, there were 33,556 general registrants, 603 of whom were endorsed as organisational psychologists. This represented 4.1 per cent of the total number of endorsements.[4]
  • In 2016, organisational psychologists represented 4.4 per cent of total endorsements, and this has fluctuated as follows over subsequent years: 4.3 per cent (2017), 4.2 per cent (2018), 4.15 per cent (2019), 4.2 per cent (2020).
  • In broad terms, endorsed organisational psychologists represent about 1.8 per cent of the total number of psychologists on the ‘general’ register.

A clearer picture of registration trends for psychologists should emerge over the next two years.

However, it shouldn’t be assumed that the current endorsement structure will be retained, nor the current college system within the APS, which was mirrored by the PsyBA when considering endorsed areas of practice.

Regardless, an important point made by Hesketh et al. (2018), and with which we agree, is the not insignificant number of non-endorsed ‘organisational psychologists’ who are well-qualified, successful professionals who operate as behavioural experts, management consultants, human factors specialists, organisation development specialists, talent management or human resource executives, and so forth. Some are registered as psychologists but missed an opportunity to take advantage of the endorsement grandparenting window in 2010, and/or see little need to undertake a relatively time-consuming and expensive supervisory process – particularly if they’re already highly regarded by their clients, employer, or colleagues. The limited number of accredited supervisors with solid or relevant experience also limits the appeal for individuals who already are highly functioning psychology professionals.

Others may have completed an advanced or accredited postgraduate psychology program in the field of organisational psychology, but have not registered even as a psychologist, seeing little need in terms of their prospective career progression. And others may have completed a non-APAC accredited Master of Business Psychology which doesn’t allow them to register as a psychologist, but which can provide skills very relevant to the business world. Discussion of comparisons with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or similar is best left to another forum.

IWOP and its future direction: Innovation rather than ‘tension’

 In updating the discussion about professional identity (Ryan & Ford, 2010), Zickar and Highhouse (2017) expressed concern about the increasing disconnect between IWO psychology (in business schools) and mainstream psychology, particularly about the reduced influence of (a) the experimental tradition, and (b) psychology’s strong focus on individual differences and their measurement. Other submissions in this December 2017 issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice questioned the positioning of IWO psychology in the future, noting the increasingly strong link between IWO psychology offered in business schools with organisational behaviour, and systems theory approaches. Consistent with observations by Hesketh et al. (2018), such developments have the potential to loosen the solid association of IWOP with not only traditional psychology programs, but also with newer fields such as the cognitive sciences.

However, it’s important to highlight what a well-trained IWO psychologist has to offer. We have what might be called a ‘unique value proposition’ with our focus at three levels: individual, group, and organisation. In taking a broader perspective, we can also consider domains such as industry, community/society, and country/region. Thus, IWOP has a strong connection with cross-cultural psychology, with the GLOBE leadership project providing a good example of such.

Assessment (or diagnosis) and intervention initiatives can be mapped against these three levels, as shown in the example below (after Lowman, 2016).

Individual

  • Career assessment (assessment focused)
  • Coaching (intervention)

Group

  • Role analysis (assessment focused)
  • Tavistock groups[5] (intervention)

Organisational

  • Culture assessment (assessment focused)
  • Scanlon Plan[6] (intervention)

Accordingly, an effective approach could involve drawing on the offerings from traditional experimentation, individual differences, organisational behaviour, and systems theory, with perhaps more inductive research. This is likely to require much better collaboration between IWO professionals and other professionals, as well as application of Avolio (2017)’s call for a balance between rigour and relevance rather than seeking a seamless approach between science and practice. Such a call also brings into play the question: Are there benefits to having a moderate level of ‘tension’, as has been discussed througout this chapter? After all, such a dynamic may well lead to innovation and improvements in outcomes for individuals and organisations – the objective of IWOP.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of agility, adaptability, and innovation for individuals, groups, and organisations. While technology, artificial intelligence, and big data provide challenges and opportunities for IWOP (e.g., see Landers, 2019), the ‘people factor’ will still be vital. Further, we suspect a multilevel perspective will be increasingly required. Accordingly, the keen student, practitioner, or scholar would benefit from considering such an approach by reading a timely book out of SIOP: Creativity and Innovation in Organizations (2020), edited by Mumford and Todd.

Conclusion 

Regardless of the future of traditional IWO psychology programs in Australia – and the question about whether IWO psychology should continue to be affiliated as a subordinate body within the peak Australian member-based psychology organisation (the APS) – it’s important to look more broadly, especially globally.

It’s evident that IWO psychologists with the best employment prospects and career choices will be those with sound research and data analytic skills to accompany good critical thinking skills and well-honed interpersonal and communication skills – both written and oral. For those working primarily in research roles – including in a commercial enterprise – data analytic and research skills will be critical. Knowledge of cognitive sciences will also be useful not only in human factors, but also in emerging fields such as robotics and autonomous vehicle technology. Thus, an IWO psychologist may be working with computer scientists and software engineers, and König et al. (2020) provides advice to psychologists who may be considering such a work assignment. Taking this further, it appears commercial organisations are leading the way in introducing novel approaches in fields such as talent identification and employee selection by adapting emerging technologies (e.g., see Rotolo et al., 2018).

However, in a paper cited by Perth-based Patrick Dunlop (in the career story Personnel Selection and Assessment featured above), Tippins et al. (2021) raise clear scientific, legal, and ethical concerns about (at least some) such technology-based developments. This, in part, echoes an earlier call by Gonzales et al. (2019) for IWO psychologists to take a collaborative approach in working with computer scientists, legal scholars, and other professions. Responding to a need perceived by many, a lengthy joint project between the ITC and the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) has resulted in the late 2021 release of a 140-page draft of their Guidelines for Technology-Based Assessment for public review and comment.

Increasingly, we are likely to see IWO psychologists working in non-HR roles within government or regulatory bodies, as behavioural interventions are implemented to supplement the traditional legal and economic approaches. For example, in 2019, the Australian Financial Review published a series of relatively prominent articles reporting and commenting on the then actions of the financial regulator, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). ASIC had appointed an external ‘organisational psychologist’ to sit in the boardrooms of some top Australian companies, with article headings, unfortunately, including terms such as ‘shrinks’ and ‘board whisperer’. Based largely on a Dutch model, the aim was to improve the culture within the boards of such companies, and thus enhance investment integrity and safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, including the community. Travelling forward to October 2021, ASIC appointed a psychologist to work alongside economists and others, rather than (just) working in an OD or HR role. The appointment reflected the increased appreciation of the skill set an IWO psychologist brings in terms of research rigour, and knowledge of theories and frameworks to inform consumer-based interventions and policy. This  psychologist completed her dual Master of Organisational Psychology and PhD in Australia, gaining a range of supervised practice experiences before working for a period in research roles with a consultancy focused on safety culture assessment and change.

The US Department of Homeland Security also recognises IWOP as a STEM discipline (see Industrial and Organizational Psychology in the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List at Federal Register :: Update to the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree Program List) highlighting the use of data-driven research and analysis to address individual and organisational issues that impact on organisational effectiveness and employee engagement.

Boyack, Klavans and Börner (2005), in providing a visual representation of the field of science, identified social psychology and clinical psychology as two related but distinct hubs. Employing a sophisticated approach to evaluating numerous citations in science-oriented publications, the authors noted the strong alignment between the social sciences and psychology, while also recognising psychology’s link to medicine through the field of neurology.

It can also be fruitful to identify those fields which are considered to be our ‘competitors’. In his presidential address at ICAP 2006 in Athens, Michael Frese nominated economists as ‘our’ major competitor. During his keynote address at IOP 2011 in Brisbane, Tim Judge – a prolific author in the Journal of Applied Psychology – also identified economists as our major competitor. In between these two presentations, Borghans, Duckworth, Heckman and ter Weel (2008) published a significant paper addressing economics, psychology and personality. Three of the authors had a solid affiliation with the prestigious Chicago School of Economics, with James Heckman notable as a 2000 Nobel Laureate.

Accordingly, a budding well-rounded IWO psychologist is encouraged to study a range of non-psychology subjects during their undergraduate years. Such subjects could include anthropology, sociology, economics, and business management. Those with a strong leaning towards mathematics or statistics may also want to consider these subjects, as well as data and computing sciences in general. In fact, mathematics is regarded as having at least an indirect or partial link within many fields of endeavour. Moreover, the use of data visualisation skills would be well appreciated in a broad range of settings, as a means of effectively presenting data to a non-technical audience. Consider also the future environment you may want to operate in – keeping in mind that several of our eight Australian IWOP examples have revealed relatively significant changes over their working life. And of course, your education – both formal and informal – shouldn’t end when you complete your initial undergraduate degree. Further, you’re encouraged to engage with conferences (local, national, and international). Physical attendence of international conferences can enhance not only your content knowledge, but also connection with people and perspectives from other countries and cultures.

There are many avenues one can traverse as an IWO psychologist. There is much choice available. The richness within IWOP is revealed in the eight narratives that have been provided in this chapter, from Emotions at Work (Neal M. Ashkanasy, in Brisbane) to Work Design (Sharon Parker, in Perth). In effect ‘people’ and ‘work’ are intertwined. And this is just a sample of where practitioners and scholars can contribute to the dual objectives of enhancing organisational effectiveness and individual wellbeing.

IWO psychologists with a strong set of relevant professional competencies, and an enquiring mind, will have much to contribute, and enjoy.

This chapter has been written by Peter Macqueen, Compass Consulting and Griffith University and Tony Machin, School of Psychology and Counselling, University of Southern Queensland.

Send us your feedback: We would love to hear from you! Please send us your feedback.

Copyright note: Permission has been granted by the Alliance for Organizational Psychology, and the International Association of Applied Psychology to use their content. No further reproduction of this content is permitted without prior permission from the copyright holder. Permission has been granted for the use of career stories from:

  • Neal M. Ashkanasy
  • Phil Slade
  • Doug MacKie
  • Allison McDonald
  • Charmine E. J. Härtel
  • Kathryn McEwen
  • Patrick Dunlop
  • Sharon K. Parker

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Please reference this chapter as:

Macqueen, P., & Machin, T. (2022). Industrial, work and organisational psychology. In T. Machin, T. Machin, C. Jeffries & N. Hoare (Eds.), The Australian handbook for careers in psychological science. University of Southern Queensland. https://usq.pressbooks.pub/psychologycareers/chapter/industrial-organisational/


  1. Although the term 'IWO psychology' has been used previously (e.g., Anderson, Herriot & Hodgkinson, 2001), this is the first time a coherent and globally accepted term – 'IWOP' – has been publicised by a professional body.
  2. Sackett et al. (2021) published a significant paper in December 2021 in the highly rated Journal of Applied Psychology. This paper challenges the corrections used in establishing predictor-criterion relationships in personnel selection. The authors conclude that current selection procedures are still useful, but relationships are not as strong as previously thought. Expect to see more publications on this matter during 2022 and beyond. (Note: Frank Schmidt died August 2021). Sackett, P. R., Zhang, C., Berry, C. M., & Lievens, F. (2021, December 30). Revisiting Meta-Analytic Estimates of Validity in Personnel Selection: Addressing Systematic Overcorrection for Restriction of Range. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000994
  3. This article by Zugec & Michela (2017) was published in the SIOP newsletter (TIP), but a nearly identical article by these two authors appeared in the 2017 licensing issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice. It sits alongside the Australian commentary by O’Gorman & Macqueen. TIP is a valuable resource and recommended.
  4. The figures in the endorsement tables published by PsyBA show the total number of psychology area of practice endorsements recorded on the National Register of Practitioners. Psychologists who hold more than one endorsement are counted for each endorsement they hold. Currently, about 93 per cent of endorsed psychologists hold just one endorsement, and this figure is increasing slowly as the effect of ‘grandparenting’ arrangements from 2010 is diluted with retirements, or as individuals decide to focus on just one area of practice endorsement.
  5. Tavistock group (conferences) are likely to take a psychodynamic approach to working in groups, incorporating a range of immersive activities exploring both conscious and unconscious elements within and between people.
  6. Scanlon plans embrace a multi-faceted approach to sharing and gaining of information and resources for the benefit of both management and employees, with high involvement and engagement.

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