Broadening the reach of I-O research in Canada

In many ways, the roots of I-O psychology and its growth as a discipline can be tied back to our ability to translate research findings into work that has practical utility. What can you do?


In many ways, the roots of I-O psychology and its growth as a discipline can be tied back to our ability to translate research findings into work that has practical utility – indeed, the role of I-O psychology in World Wars I and II in terms of assessment, selection, classification, and training attest to this. While recent evidence suggests that I-O psychology is growing at a rapid rate1 , most of those in the discipline are still likely familiar with having to explain to the majority of people they encounter (including friends and family) what I-O psychology is. Despite the growth and utility of the discipline, there are still many challenges related to increasing the profile of I-O psychology and educating people about our findings.

As academics, we’re often confronted with the importance of thinking beyond a research audience. The majority of our journals require a “Practical Implications” section, and granting bodies such as SSHRC typically require a knowledge mobilization plan. However, these sections can often become an afterthought, as we become mired in the minutiae of theory, statistics, and design. Its easy to lose focus of our tremendous potential to the broader world while sitting in an office late at night running SPSS.

At CSIOP-SCPIO, we’re now taking the first steps in an attempt to broaden the audience that we engage with and increase the profile of I-O psychology in Canada and beyond. These steps include the webpage you’re reading this on, a new Twitter account (@csiop_scpio), and an accompanying Facebook page. These initiatives are new, and their use will be evaluated and evolve over time. However, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to try new approaches to engaging and getting our findings out there and highlight our discipline and our members.

What can you do? As we take our initial steps into this domain, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how I-O psychology can best broaden our audience, potential resources that can be leveraged, tips from members who have been able to effectively engage in “knowledge mobilization”, and challenges that have been encountered. We hope that through these forums, we can work together to enhance our discipline!

Joshua Bourdage is Assistant professor of psychology at the University of Calgary.


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Comments (3)

    François Chiocchio

    I agree Josh. In Vol 5(1) of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Klein stressed that many of our results are "poorly translated and rarely understood" (p. 53). We have to work harder at being relevant to the "outside" world. This blog would be a good place to start!

    • Mar 05, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    Suzanne Simpson, PhD, C. Psych.

    As a long time member of the IO Community in Canada, I applaud your efforts to bridge the Academic / Practitioner divide. It is extremely important that practice is well-grounded in scientific discipline and that IO science is relevant to those of us on the front line dealing with the day-to-day issues of clients.

    Way to go!

    • Apr 07, 2015 at 01:42 PM

    George Matthews

    As a recent member here, and long time I/O P practitioner in government settings, I have an observation. It seems to me that we need to see our audience through a less compartmentalized lens. I see no end to the value that can be added in my organization. However, we (I), often view the separate parts of our complex system as completely separate silos. When the reality is, we are all working towards the same ends. Some see the theoretical end as more rewarding while other gravitate toward practical application. Of course we all know, on some level, that the entire system needs to work in order to maximize success.
    A small example is this website and specifically the blogs. There are three streams in which to learn and contribute, student, academic, and practitioner. Are these walls necessary? When I read the contributions within each area, I see them as complimentary. But some may not feel invited to join in and leverage the conversations, purely because of a label.
    In my organization I have chosen to conduct I/O P from outside of the HR regime. The reasons are many and I'm certain that many members here can imagine pros and cons. The main reason that I repositioned the conversation was that I felt the need to interact directly with managers and executives without the HR filter. This has worked well for me and I have been able to pilot some meaningful projects around assessment of management potential in prospective candidates. Something I may not have been able to do had I stayed in my silo.
    I believe the success came from not viewing my audience as disconnected groups based on their specific disciplines . I place HR managers at the same level as other managers. An analogy would be putting them in parallel rather than series. I now hear unfiltered needs more often. And I'm able to provide unfiltered advice as a result. Even more importantly, I enjoy unfiltered consultation with managers and my peers in a very large organization. This is a boon to my personal learning.
    What I'm suggesting is, I agree that Twitter and Facebook are great tools, if you can attract an audience there, but where we really accelerate is by breaking down silos and engaging in discussions that have real implications for all sorts of people.
    No one "turns a wheel" until that answer the question, "what's in it for me." So let's tell them what's in it for them. Or better yet, share our thoughts generously and let them discover for themselves. In the same way that it's important for the practitioner to see what going on in the academic blog, it is important for an accountant to know the value in managing talent effectively. We need to be more generous to ourselves and others when it comes to sharing ideas. An open book helps everyone discover for themselves what's in it for them.
    Here's a challenge for anyone who chooses to take it up. Get out of your comfort zone and see how many different audiences you can get in front of. Is there an AGM, quarterly production meeting, or professional association meeting that you can speak to? Tell them what you are doing that's exciting. Share how you can make their work easier or impact the bottom line. Then come back here and tell us how well that worked and what you might do differently next time. I guarantee that I will respond to that discussion. I will probably even bring colleagues along.

    • Jun 21, 2016 at 04:41 PM
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