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IOP Award Winners: Meet Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award Winner: Herman Aguinis

Liberty J. Munson

As part of our ongoing series to provide visibility into what it takes to earn a SIOP award or grant, we highlight a diverse class of award winners in each edition of TIP. We hope that this insight encourages you to consider applying for a SIOP award or grant because you are probably doing something amazing that can and should be recognized by your peers in I-O psychology!

This quarter, we are highlighting the winner of the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award:  Herman Aguinis (see www.hermanaguinis.com).


Share a little a bit about who you are and what you do.
I am a professor of management at The George Washington University School of Business in Washington, DC. My research is interdisciplinary and is about the acquisition and deployment of talent in organizations and organizational research methods. Recent projects include star performance; corporate social responsibility and business sustainability; domestic and international workforce diversity; leadership, staffing, training and development; performance management; and innovative methodological approaches for developing and testing theories. On a more personal note, my professional and life agenda is to have an impact on the academic community but also on society at large.

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

I received this award for lifetime contributions rather than an individual project.

[Note from Liberty Munson: Below I include information on five(!) of his research streams. The articles mentioned below are available at http://www.hermanaguinis.com]

Corporate social responsibility. He put the topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the radar screen of industrial and organizational psychology (IOP) with his 2011 article in the APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology titled “Organizational Responsibility: Doing Well and Doing Good.” There was virtually no IOP research about CSR prior to the publication of this very influential work. Subsequently, he published additional research linking IOP and CSR in Journal of Management (Aguinis & Glavas, 2012, 2019), and Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Aguinis & Glavas, 2013). Also, he co-edited a special issue of CSR in Personnel Psychology (Morgeson et al., 2013). A more recent article on CSR, published in Personnel Psychology (Ng et al., 2019), received the IACMR-Responsible Research in Management Award “recognizing excellent scholarship that focuses on important issues for business and society using sound research methods with credible results.” It is no exaggeration to say that his work on CSR has been foundational and served as a pivotal catalyst for an entire research stream linking CSR and IOP.

Star performers and the distribution of performance. His research in this domain has challenged the decades-long view that performance is normally distributed and has implications for selection, training, performance management, and all other domains interested in performance—which is virtually all areas in IOP. His work in this area has been published in Personnel Psychology (2012, 2014, 2016) and Journal of Applied Psychology (2017, 2018) and has also been funded by the National Science Foundation (“Understanding the Gender Performance Gap Among Star Performers in STEM Fields”). This work is leading to new empirical as well as conceptual and methodological research by him and his students and coauthors, as well as many other teams of researchers. The fact that there is such a heated debate on this issue is a sign of the foundational nature of these contributions, which will influence research and practice in IOP for many decades to come.

Test bias and fairness. His research reignited the dormant domain of test bias (i.e., differential prediction; e.g., Aguinis et al., 2010, Journal of Applied Psychology; Aguinis et al., 2016, Journal of Educational Psychology). Clear evidence of his impactful contributions in this domain is that the recently published 5th edition of the SIOP Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures refer to five of his articles on test bias and fairness in several places. Moreover, this research led to an important reaction on the part of the testing industry. For example, his 2010 Journal of Applied Psychology article was followed by a response also in JAP by chief scientists from the College Board, the organization that develops and administers tests such as the SAT, GRE, and GMAT. The SAT alone is administered to about 1.7 million individuals in the United States each year. His has also been cited in Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion (with which Justices Stevens, Souter, and Breyer concurred) in the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision in the Ricci v. DeStefano case involving firefighters in New Haven, CT (p. 29). Also, he coauthored an amicus brief regarding this same case with Cascio, Outtz, Zedeck, and Goldstein.

Methodological best-practice recommendations. Dr. Aguinis has written several articles addressing recommendations on methodological best practices. These contributions are particularly timely and relevant given current concerns about the credibility and trustworthiness of IOP research. His work in this domain has been published in Personnel Psychology (e.g., on control variables, 2016), Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process (i.e., on open science, 2020), Organizational Research Methods (e.g., on outliers, 2013; on experimental vignette studies, 2014; on data collection and preparation, 2021), Journal of Management (e.g., on self-reported limitations, 2013; on multilevel modeling, 2013; on meta-regression, 2018), Journal of Organizational Behavior (e.g., on interaction effects in regression, 2010; on interaction effects in meta-analysis, 2011), Academy of Management Annals (i.e., on transparency, 2018), Journal of International Business Studies (i.e., on meta-analysis, 2021), and Strategic Management Journal (i.e., on interviews, 2019), among others. This body of work has been influential in shaping submission and review policies of several journals—as well as the training of future IOP scholars.

State-of-the-science contributions. Dr. Aguinis has authored several influential articles addressing the state of our science. For example, his 2008 Journal of Applied Psychology article titled “Research in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from 1963 to 2007: Changes, Choices, and Trends” (with Wayne Cascio) has been cited in four of the five articles by past JAP editors who contributed to the centennial issue published in March 2017. His 2014 focal article in Industrial and Organizational Psychology addressing the movement of I-O psychologists to business schools generated quite a debate, and his 2015 JAP article distilling effect size benchmarks based on about 150,000 correlations from JAP and PPsych is the #1 most cited article among all those published in JAP in 2015. His research published in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (2017) and other journals (e.g., Academy of Management Learning and Education, 2014, 2019; Academy of Management Perspectives, 2012, 2020) has addressed the definition and measurement of scholarly impact. Taken together, these important scientific contributions are shaping the conversation about desired and less desired futures for IOP programs, journals, professional organizations, and individual careers.


What do you think was key to you winning this award?

Sustained research productivity over time—about 30 years.

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

Our research on performance management has been useful for IOP practice. For example, my latest book on this topic titled Performance Management for Dummies has reached a very large audience of practitioners. Also, textbooks have had an important impact on students who, for the most part, are future practitioners. For example, Applied Psychology in Talent Management (8th edition, 2019, with Wayne Cascio), and Performance Management (4th edition, 2019).

In terms of researchers, our work on methodological best practices and state-of-the-science issues has been useful to both junior and not-so-junior scholars—including journal reviewers and editors. This includes articles, but also the books Regression Analysis for Categorical Moderators and Opening the Black Box of Editorship.

How did others become aware of your award-winning work/research? 

Our research has been published in widely read journals—as well as books used in the classroom and by practitioners. For more information on articles, please see: http://www.hermanaguinis.com/pubs.html

For more information on books, please see: http://www.hermanaguinis.com/Books.htm

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

Chuck Pierce, who nominated me. He and I went to graduate school together and have been friends and research collaborators for 3 decades.

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

  • What was the “turning point” moment where you started thinking about the problem/work through the other disciplines’ lenses? 
    Since high school, when I connected dots between philosophy, math, and social sciences.
  • How do you think the work benefited from having multiple disciplines involved?
    It allows me to think more broadly and to import and export theories and methods across disciplines. My research on methodology was a great springboard to do so because it forced me to read journals from different fields.
  • What recommendations would you give to others if they are doing interdisciplinary research? 
    Read journals from different fields.

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

Yes, I am still working on the same streams—but different projects.

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

I play drums.

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

Follow your passion, but also be aware of the market and what is rewarded.


About the author:

Liberty Munson is currently the principal psychometrician of the Microsoft Technical Certification and Employability programs in the Worldwide Learning organization. She is responsible for ensuring the validity and reliability of Microsoft’s certification and professional programs. Her passion is for finding innovative solutions to business challenges that balance the science of assessment design and development with the realities of budget, time, and schedule constraints. Most recently, she has been presenting on the future of testing and how technology can change the way we assess skills.

Liberty loves to bake, hike, backpack, and camp with her husband, Scott, and miniature schnauzer, Apex. If she’s not at work, you’ll find her enjoying the great outdoors or in her kitchen tweaking some recipe just to see what happens.

Her advice to someone new to I-O psychology?

Statistics, statistics, statistics—knowing data analytic techniques will open A LOT of doors in this field and beyond!



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