The 2019 meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) at National Harbor, Maryland, has concluded. Over 5000 people attended. I joined SIOP in 1984 and have spent most of my work-life as a manager, consultant, and professor engaged in various aspects of I/O psychology, directly or indirectly. I attended meetings of SIOP occasionally and meetings of the Academy of Management (AOM) nearly every year. Here are a few of my impressions from this year’s conference, nothing empirical here, just impressions.
- The future of I/O psych is in good hands. It would be interested to know the median age of attendees. I talked with many junior PhDs, doctoral students, and doctoral candidates and was impressed with their knowledge and enthusiasm. Practitioner I/Os from businesses and government were active throughout the conference. It was exciting to see the large number of people who appeared to be early in their careers.
- Increasingly women are choosing I/O psych for their profession. I would venture over half of the attendees were women which speaks volumes for SIOP and I/O programs. It was not that long ago that white men were most of the attendees. More women as I/O psychologists can only strengthen the field. The same with diversity.
- The scientist-practitioner model, always at the core of I/O, continues to be fully embraced. Over the years though, a gap has grown between researchers and practitioners. Research is seen as increasingly less relevant with less impact on practice. SIOP is trying to help reduce that gap. This year for the first time 39 individuals received Scientist-Practitioner Presidential Recognition Awards. I am especially cognizant of this scholar-practitioner gap. Doing my small part to help reduce it has been the function of my tweets, these blogs, and my book, Decoding the Workplace.
- AI has arrived. In one session people were genuinely excited by the possibilities of artificial intelligence, “Every behavioral scientist should be involved in AI.” In another session presenters called for more caution: “Expediency and efficiency crush privacy every time.” Meanwhile in the exhibit hall, businesses offered their latest AI innovations for Human Resources and I/O professionals.
- It seemed the pendulum has swung more toward industrial-personnel with less organizational psychology. I had expected more of 50/50 mix. The organizational psychology side is more prevalent in AOM, especially in the OB Division. There was a time when I though I/O psychologists educated in schools of psychology were superior in knowledge to organizational behaviorists educated in business schools. Wrong. We read and publish in the same journals and research mostly the same issues.
- Not as many DOD industrial psychologists present. In earlier years I/O psychologists associated with the military, especially personnel testing, were much in evidence at SIOP. Not as much these days. Mostly a few contractors.
- Symposia and posters seemed oriented more toward conceptual and technical issues. In several more I/O “in practice” sessions, cases and ideas were discussed with attendee participation. The discussions suggested the AOM workshop model might be applicable to SIOP. AOM has several days of workshops followed by the scholarly presentations. There are a lot more lessons learned that could be shared and discussed through workshops.
- One of the joys for me was meeting people I have only known through social media. For example, the I/O community on Twitter is robust. Meeting people with whom we exchange ideas online will make our online discussions even better.
Last, it must be said that one vender in the exhibit hall shared cake with people walking by. I had a piece of chocolate cake and was amazed. It melted in my mouth, easily the best chocolate cake I ever had. Thank you Gaylord National pastry chef!
Image by endlesswatts. Obtained from https://pixabay.com/photos/chocolate-cake-dessert-food-1185815/
Free to use.
© John Ballard, PhD, 2019. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “deals with principles and practices that are timeless . . . Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018.