Featured Articles
Jenny Baker
/ Categories: 581

Two Shocks Provoking a Question—Quo Vadis?

Milton D. Hakel, SIOP Foundation President

The first I-O presidential address I ever read was entitled "Quo Vadis?" Latin for "Where are we going?" by Brent Baxter. Back in the early 1960s, Baxter spoke about our lack of theory and the need for it: “With our lack of emphasis on a fundamental and broad psychological approach, we have drifted towards becoming technicians and not scientists. We are better known for our techniques than for fundamental insights.” Baxter noted that we produce a seemingly endless stream of fragments leading nowhere and that our publi­cations do not reflect fundamental advances but more often a multiplicity of minor tinkerings in a wide variety of settings.

Shock #1

The world has changed rather dramatically in the months since the Foundation Spotlight for April was drafted. It was the TIP article in which Adrienne Collella announced the four finalists for the $100,000 Visionary Grant. Not only have we encountered lockdowns to shelter in place, followed by astonishing drops in employment and economic activity, but the personal shock was that the Austin SIOP conference was cancelled. It left everyone wondering what the future will bring.

To cope with the cancellation, the Foundation went online on April 29 to broadcast an “online plenary” via Zoom. Susan Ashford, Brianna Caza, and Brittany Lambert won the $100,000 grant, and their project kicks off on July 1. Read about “Working Off the Grid: Building Resilience in the GIG Economy” in this SIOP Newsbriefs article and watch Ashford’s presentation on Vimeo.

Gig work looks like it will increase vastly in the coming decades. Resilience will surely be needed, regardless of our personal employment circumstances.

The Visionary Circle and its maiden grant is an initiative intended to move I-O ahead by asking the right questions and gathering evidence meant to resolve them.

Shock #2

On Memorial Day 2020 in Minneapolis, the world changed rather dramatically yet again. George Floyd died under the knee of an on-duty police officer doing his job. It was a brutal death.

At the very least Mr. Floyd’s death was another one in a way-too-long list of shocks. Will it mark a tipping point for the United States as a nation, founded on a principle of “liberty and justice for all”?

Closer to our day jobs, when and how will we bring I-O praxis to bear on workplace violence? It is without doubt a question that we must address. There is a need for I-Os to be researching the work-facing facet of this frequently repeating shock.

Present in the original purposes of the SIOP Foundation, and approved by the IRS, is a provision for what are called “term gifts.” Term gifts may be given for approved scientific, educational, or cultural purposes allowed under section 501.C.3, and they need not be endowments. They are what we call pass-through funding; that is, the tax-deductible gift is given to the SIOP Foundation which, in turn, immediately passes the funds through to the entity that will enact the approved purpose of the gift.

Think of grants addressing systemic racism at work. Think outside of our usual I-O preoccupations and categories because so much of the world of work comprises social and cultural context. We all are well experienced in taking context for granted and working within the limited scope implicit in that context. We are all sometimes too quick to grant assumptions that simplify our research designs and interpretations of evidence. Testing and breaking those assumptions happens when current explanations do not fit the evidence.

Since Brent Baxter’s presidential address at the end of the age of dustbowl empiricism, I-O has grown substantially in so many ways. We bring psychological science to workplace issues and concerns. At this point we need to draw deeply and broadly from all disciplines to strengthen I-O praxis because we are more than just scientists or practitioners or scientist–practitioners. As the global pandemic shows starkly, we need diversity and inclusion because we are all in this together.

The SIOP Foundation Trustees welcome your comments and suggestions. Become a member of the next Visionary Circle cohort. Or talk with any of us about making a larger gift to the Fund for the Future. This is the time for creativity AND action.

The SIOP Foundation’s mission is to connect donors with I-O professionals to create smarter workplaces. Let us get on with it in these challenging times.

Milt Hakel, President, mhakel@bgsu.edu, 419 352 0983 or 419 819 0936

Rich Klimoski, Vice President, rklimosk@gmu.edu

Nancy Tippins, Secretary, nancy@tippinsgroup.com

Leaetta Hough, Treasurer, leaetta@msn.com

Adrienne Colella, Communications Officer, acolella@tulane.edu

Mirian Graddick-Weir, Trustee, mgraddickweir76@gmail.com

Bill Macey, Trustee, wmacey9@gmail.com

John C. Scott, Trustee, JScott@APTMetrics.com

The SIOP Foundation
440 E Poe Rd Ste 101
Bowling Green, OH 43402-1355
419-353-0032   Fax: 419-352-2645
E-mail: SIOPFoundation@siop.org



Baxter, B. 1965. Quo vadis? President' s Address, Division of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. American Psychological Association.


1605 Rate this article:
No rating
Comments are only visible to subscribers.


Information on this website, including articles, white papers, and other resources, is provided by SIOP staff and members. We do not include third-party content on our website or in our publications, except in rare exceptions such as paid partnerships.