Introduction: The Researcher's Life 1

Chapter 3 Industrial/Organizational Psychology 2010: A Research Odyssey

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Chapter 3
Industrial/Organizational Psychology 2010: A Research Odyssey

Brian Schrader
Emporia State University

During the first decade of the 21st century, Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O, for short) will reach the 100-year-old mark. Hence, it is appropriate to reflect on the many changes that have, and will, come to pass in I/O Psychology's next century. It is clear to see that trying to adapt to the current work world and apply psychological concepts is a demanding and fast-changing task for researchers, practitioners, consultants, and academicians alike. However, these same issues also offer us a glimpse of what I/O psychologists are likely to face in the next 15 years. Business guru, Peter Drucker (1993) has illustrated how every few hundred years the world undergoes a very sharp, discontinuous, and dramatic transformation that completely changes the fundamental state of humankind. Industrial/organizational psychology (and likely the world) is in the beginning of one of those transformations. The next century will be one of unprecedented change, but one that can be partially predicted by examining current trends. Perhaps Paul Muchinsky (2000) said it best when he stated, "The axiom that 'the best predictor of the future is the past' may have to be modified in the next century, at least as it applies to I/O Psychology. A few caveats or modifiers may be in order, such as 'the best predictor of the future is the very recent past'" (pg. 503). In the following pages we explore the current hot topics and future trends and where they may take I/O Psychology in the next quarter-century. Students interested in I/O Psychology should consider researching these areas more thoroughly to be on the "cutting edge" of the 21st century as it happens.

What's Hot in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

The field of I/O Psychology can be roughly divided into seven primary areas of research: personnel selection, training, performance appraisal, leadership, work motivation, work attitudes, and organizational issues. The first three areas are traditionally considered the "I" or Industrial Psychology aspects, the latter four are the "O" or Organizational Psychology areas. Although there are a variety of other pertinent I/O areas that fall beyond these primary seven (e.g., environmental issues, human factors, unions, compensation systems), these seven main areas effectively make up the bulk of what I/O psychologists study. We explore some of the current research issues germane to each of these areas.

Personnel Selection

Personnel selection deals with measuring and predicting individual differences in behavior and job performance so as to hire the best person for the job based on reliable and valid tests. Job analysis is also a primary focus whereby researchers attempt to break a job down into its basic components and generate job descriptions. Perhaps one of the most widely examined areas in personnel selection is compliance with the law. Increasing numbers of textbooks are devoting entire chapters to legal issues and selection (e.g., Cascio, 1998), and a review of some of I/O Psychology's more prestigious journals (e.g., Journal of Applied Psychology) finds at least one article devoted to the topic in each issue. As we attempt to develop screening and selection batteries for the future, not only must they be valid and reliable but they must also fall within current legal guidelines; this task is enormous. The size of this task is reflected by the following partial list of work-related laws (and highlights of the law) that I/O Psychologists must abide by:

The 5th, 13th, and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution (allows for "due process" in employment-related legal hearings; abolished slavery and involuntary servitude as types of employment; and all people must be given equal and fair treatment).

Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871 (allows citizens to make and enforce work-related contracts and sue when violated; allows citizens to sue if constitutional rights have been deprived; federal government can become involved in matters of racial discrimination in private employment settings).

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (prohibits employment-related discrimination on the basis of sex in regard to the payment of wages; equal jobs require equal pay irrespective of gender).

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII of this landmark anti-discrimination law prohibits employment-related discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce the law; later amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the EEOC was given the power to initiate discrimination-based lawsuits against employers).

Executive Orders 11246, 11375, and 11478 (Signed in 1965, 1967, and 1969, respectively, these orders prohibited employment-related discrimination in the federal government; created the Office of Federal Contract Compliance to supervise and enforce government contracts with all contractors; emphasized merit-based employment practices; set the foundation for the creation of affirmative action).

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) (Later amended in 1986, prohibited employment-related discrimination on the basis of age but only for workers over the age of 40; allows companies the opportunity to discriminate against (i.e., fire) older employees unable to perform satisfactorily if it can be proven in court that age is a problem).

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (a precursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act this act required federal contractors and subcontractors to actively recruit and hire people with disabilities; part of its intent was to prevent any systematic discrimination results in lessening an equal employment opportunity).

Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974 (prohibits employment-related discrimination on the basis of being a military soldier during the Vietnam War era for all federal contractors and subcontractors; essentially affirmative action for Vietnam veterans).

Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (prohibits employment-related discrimination on the basis of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition).

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (prohibits all employers from hiring or continuing to employ illegal aliens and requires them to verify employment eligibility of all new employees).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (prohibits employment-related discrimination on the basis of a disability; requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for disabled workers; requires all new businesses to be accessible to the disabled and existing businesses to make improvements in accessibility when possible).

Civil Rights Act of 1991 (alters a variety of employment-related law interpretations and practices; prohibits the adjustment of employment test scores on the basis of race; protects employers from certain actions when advance notice was given to employees and they failed to challenge the action at that time; changed legal interpretations of adverse impact in the courtroom).

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) (allows for employees to be given up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for births, adoptions, foster care, care of a seriously ill spouse, or care if the employee is seriously ill; employers must give the workers their previous job after the leave or an equivalent job; companies with 50 or fewer employees are exempt).

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (prohibits employment-based discrimination on the basis of a person's affiliation with the armed services; in many instances the employer must rehire a returning service member).

Additionally, the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (for the Federal Government) and the Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures (developed by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) are being heavily relied on by I/O practitioners and human resource (i.e., personnel) departments as a primary source of information.

Researchers are attempting to identify which personnel selection instruments are the most predictive and yet do not exhibit concepts such as "disparate impact" (intentional discrimination) or "adverse impact" (unintentional discrimination). For example, researchers have identified cognitive ability tests (i.e., intelligence tests) as being one of the most highly predictive instruments available for many jobs (Hunter & Hunter, 1984; Schmidt, Ones, & Hunter, 1992). Unfortunately, such tests are highly prone to adverse impact with minorities often scoring a half or whole standard deviation below whites on these tests (Hunter & Hunter, 1984). Schmitt, Rogers, Chan, Sheppard, and Jennings (1997) attempted to combine alternative predictors with cognitive ability tests in hopes of creating a higher validity with lower adverse impact using multiple correlation. The results showed that the use of additional predictors (i.e., biodata, personality tests, and structured interviews) in combination with cognitive ability tests increased validity and reduced adverse impact; however, adverse impact was still sufficiently high to be considered discrimination. Researchers will continue to try and find that elusive fit between high predictiveness and low discriminatory value within legal limits well into the next century. I/O Psychology students will need to be considerably more legal-minded as additional laws and court cases further expand the ever-growing body of employment legislation.


Training is big business. Each year, roughly 30 billion dollars is spent on formal training programs and an additional 180 billion dollars is spent on informal "on the job" training (Schultz & Schultz, 1998). Although much of the training literature deals with traditional topics (e.g., what are the best types of training programs, how does training knowledge and behavior transfer to the job, how can learning be improved, etc.), a currently hot topic is the advent of diversity training. Whereas most training programs involve teaching an employee a particular skill or behavior to enhance job performance, diversity training is really more about re-training peoples' attitudes, prejudices, and stereotypes (and the accompanying behaviors). Many global (i.e., international) companies take diversity training a step further to include educating their employees on the cultures of other countries when they will be dealing extensively with foreign organizations. According to Noe and Ford (1992), the goal of diversity training is to reduce attitudinal barriers that constrain employee performance on the job, reduce organizational effectiveness, and limit personal development. Currently, there is little research that illuminates the success of this type of training. Rynes and Rosen (1995) found that less than one-third of companies even bother to evaluate the success of the training programs or conduct some type of follow-up research. Given the changes that are expected in the demographic make-up of the work population in the next 15 years alone, it is important that researchers develop effective diversity training programs or we are likely to see increased problems in employee interactions. According to the American Psychological Society (1993), by the year 2000, almost 30 percent of new workers entering the labor market will be minorities and almost two-thirds will be women. Nemetz and Christensen (1996) examined anecdotal evidence from diversity training programs and found that many programs actually create negative reactions in participants. Furthermore, participants often felt that these "politically correct" interventions were done only for corporate appearances without addressing real diversity issues. I/O psychologists have their work cut out for them.


Although, leadership is one of the most heavily researched topics in I/O Psychology, it lacks firm "conclusions." Consider all the different competing theories that exist: trait theories, behavioral theories, situational theories, contingency theories, normative theories, power/influence theories, and leader-member relationship theories. Meindl and Ehrlich (1987) proposed that a theory of leadership may not even really exist at all. Hence, it is not surprising that researchers cannot agree on a good formal definition of leadership. As Jewell (1998) so eloquently states, "Perhaps 'leadership' is akin to the Loch Ness monster phenomenon: We believe that there is something big, mysterious, and powerful out there, we have a rough idea of where to look, and we have launched some elaborate and expensive expeditions. But hard evidence remains sparse, and the pictures we have managed to obtain are fuzzy" (pg. 530). Nonetheless, researchers strive to get a handle on the concept.

Currently, leadership theorists are experimenting with variations to create a sort of "new age" leadership. Yukl (1994) proposed a multiple linkage model that identifies six key components (e.g., material resources, direction on the project, coordination of the unit) necessary for a work unit to function. The leader is the individual who provides the work unit with these components or compensates for them in some way when missing. Clearly, this theory draws from many theories. So far the initial research is scarce but encouraging (Kim & Yukl, 1995). Sims and Manz (1996) are working together on the development of a "superleadership" theory. These authors argue that superleadership occurs when a leader becomes an effective self-leader and then passes on these leadership skills to his or her subordinates turning them into self-leaders. However, it would appear that what is needed is a "super" theory of leadership that combines important elements from the existing theories to create a meta-theory of leadership; unfortunately, few researchers seem interested in pursuing this research avenue. Ardent I/O Psychology students should consider taking up this pursuit of the elusive leadership meta-theory.

Work Motivation

Like leadership, work motivation is inundated by theories, hence, future efforts will endeavor to integrate multiple theories into a single meta-theory, such as Klein's (1989) control theory model. Kanfer (1991) has identified three of the most viable integrative approaches for the amalgamation of work motivation theories. However, there is an emphasis on exploring new variables associated with the most widely researched and best supported theory of motivation, goal-setting theory (Dipboye, Smith, & Howell, 1994). Podsakoff, MacKenzie, and Ahearne (1997) are examining the moderating effects of goal acceptance on group productivity and group cohesiveness. Their research identifies the need for groups (and individuals) to accept work goals in order to increase motivation and hence productivity. Recent work by Phillips and Gully (1997) using structural equation modeling (LISREL) examined numerous variables in relation to goal-setting theory. The authors look at self-efficacy, need for achievement, locus of control, and goal orientation to provide a revised model for understanding how goal-setting works. Finally, VandeWalle and Cummings (1997) examined how individual differences in goal orientation affected feedback-seeking behaviors in participants. An employee's predisposition towards certain goals may have a pronounced impact on what types of motivational techniques will be used and which ones will be successful.

Work Attitudes

Job satisfaction has always been the predominant attitude researched in this area; Spector (1996) found that by 1991, over 12,400 published research studies focused on job satisfaction. Job satisfaction has been correlated with performance, pay, turnover, absenteeism, health and stress, life satisfaction, education, sex, race, and age to name some of the more common correlates. However, more recent research endeavors have shifted towards measuring job involvement and organizational commitment (Keller, 1997). In the 1990s, organizational commitment became a hot topic.

Although strongly related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment (OC) is a distinct concept that relates to an employee's desire to remain with a company out of a sense of loyalty, emotional attachment, and financial need (Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993). Additional research (e.g., Irving, Coleman, & Cooper, 1997) found strong support for this model and will likely spur more research endeavors. Of particular interest to researchers are which variables lead to an increase in organizational commitment. Although job satisfaction is considered a dominant topic, organizational commitment may be of more importance to employers. Any factors which increase both job satisfaction and organizational commitment are likely to be hot topics. Of course, it is presumed that employees higher in organizational commitment will be more productive, however, this relationship has yet to be shown, and an interesting dilemma will develop if employees who are high in OC are not more productive when it comes time to give promotions.

The classic nature vs. nurture controversy is a fundamental issue surrounding job satisfaction. Several studies have suggested that job satisfaction may have a genetic basis (Arvey, Bouchard, Segal, & Abraham, 1989; Bouchard, Arvey, Keller, & Segal, 1992; Keller, Bouchard, Arvey, Segal, & Davis, 1992). These data generated several theories associated with measuring job satisfaction, the most notable of which involved positive and negative affectivity (i.e., the dispositional tendency towards positive or negative emotional states). George (1989, 1991) found strong correlations between affectivity and emotional moods as well as job satisfaction. However, not all researchers are convinced that the genetic version is the right approach. Cropanzano and James (1990) are outspoken critics. Likewise, a study by Hershberger, Lichtenstein, and Knox (1994) involving 540 pairs of twins failed to find a significant genetic influence on job satisfaction. Most recently, Steel and Rentsch (1997) examined the stability of job satisfaction ratings over a 10-year interval. Using multiple regression they determined that both dispositional and situational factors accounted for portions of the variance in satisfaction ratings. This controversial theme will be continue to generate studies from both hereditary and environmental supporters. I/O Psychology students should recognize that a comprehensive knowledge of basic and applied psychology is necessary to explore many work-related issues.

Organizational Issues

This area is quite broad, encompassing topics such as organizational behavior, organizational development, organizational structure, organizational theory, and organizational change. Although many tangential workplace issues such as humor, violence, and spirituality are finding their way into the published literature, perhaps the two most pervasive topics currently dominating psychological research in organizations are sexual harassment and citizenship behaviors.

The Equal Opportunity Commission (1980) identified two types of sexual harassment: (a) quid pro quo sexual harassment which involves mandatory sexual compliance in return for favors, retaining one's job, and/or promotions, and (b) hostile environment harassment where verbal or physical conduct creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment and/or interferes with an employee's job performance. Much of the research since that time has focused on either different models of sexual harassment or how men and women's definitions and perceptions of sexual harassment differ (Muchinsky, 2000). For example, Gutek, Cohen, and Konrad (1990) developed a model that focuses on the frequency of interactions between the two sexes. Not surprisingly, they found that sexual harassment occurred most often in environments where male-female interactions were high. A study on harassment perceptions by Hemmasi, Graf, and Russ (1994) found that superior-subordinate relations are more likely to be perceived as having credible (i.e., more believable) incidents of sexual harassment than peer-peer relations. Further, despite recent Supreme Court rulings that harassment can occur both within as well as between the sexes, harassment directed against women is more likely to be perceived as harassment than harassment directed at men. Schneider, Swan, and Fitzgerald (1997) found that even low levels of periodic sexual harassment can have decimating physical and mental consequences for the victims. These studies are very important to help researchers isolate the specific behaviors, perceptions, models, and terminology that will aid the courts in prosecuting and defending accused harassers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from sexual harassment are citizenship behaviors. Citizenship behaviors include altruism, conscientiousness, civic virtue, sportsmanship, and courtesy (Van Dyne, Graham, & Dienesch, 1994). In essence, this line of research reflects employees who display "extra" pro-social behaviors that are neither required nor expected. Further, Moorman (1991) has found that when individuals (particularly supervisors) model these behaviors, it has a positive influence on others in the organization. Organ and Ryan (1995) suggest that organizational citizenship behaviors unify multiple organizational constructs such that these behaviors may be the equivalent of what g (general intelligence) is at the individual level. In other words, organizational citizenship behaviors may represent a basic foundation for several other organizationally-related characteristics. Finally, Podsakoff, Ahearne, and MacKenzie (1997) found that performance quantity and performance quality in work groups were significantly higher for groups higher in citizenship behaviors. Taken together, organizations may wish to begin measuring and selecting individuals who score high in these job-related behaviors.

Performance Appraisal

Some authors (e.g., Berry & Houston, 1993; Lowenberg & Conrad, 1998) posit that performance appraisal (evaluating the effectiveness of employees' job behaviors) will continue to be a key area for both current and future research. I am inclined to agree with them; of all the major areas in I/O Psychology, the evaluation of work performance will be at the forefront, now and well into the 21st century. I highly encourage avid I/O Psychology students to become more knowledgeable with performance appraisal systems and concepts as the area will continue to draw lots of attention in the future given its fundamental importance in the entire personnel system.

Performance appraisal (PA) is one of the best researched and well-defined areas in I/O Psychology. For example, as early as 1980, researchers felt confident enough that they had exhausted research on PA rater scales and formats such that Landy and Farr (1980) proposed a moratorium on further studies. Despite this comprehensive analysis of PA, Jewell (1998) noted that, "In virtually every survey ever conducted, both raters and ratees condemn performance appraisal practices in their organizations as resounding failures" (pg. 388). As such, current research is investigating "how" to improve the quality of existing PA systems. There are several primary avenues being pursued, including the use of multiple raters, 360-degree feedback systems, and rater training.

Preliminary research on the use of multiple raters in a 360-degree feedback system appears to be superior in comparison to the traditional methods of PA which relied almost exclusively on the employee's supervisor. The 360-degree system uses not only the supervisor, but also peers, self-rating by the employee, subordinates, and in some instances, customers/clients, outside consultants, and even family and friends. In essence, this system draws on virtually anyone who has familiarity with the employee in regards to his or her job performance. Campbell, Curphy, and Tuggle (1995) led the way in identifying key practices that make for a successful system such as accountability, review by superiors, periodic feedback, and having a flexible system. Research by Bracken (1994) found that multirater systems are reliable, valid, well-received by employees, easy to use, and job relevant. Although these data are encouraging, there is still little empirical data about 360-degree feedback's effectiveness, making it a prime candidate for additional studies.

Rater training prior to the 1990s often experienced mixed reviews; some aspects of a rater's performance got better, whereas other aspects became worse. This situation was often due to a debate over the importance of rater accuracy training versus rater error training. However, a meta-analytic study by Woehr and Huffcutt (1994) found that each of the various rater training programs has at least a moderate effect on improving PA ratings, reducing rating errors and/or improving rating accuracy. Of the various training programs, frame-of-reference (FOR) training emerges as the most promising. FOR training attempts to provide raters with common performance standards (references) such that each rater understands what constitutes good and bad performance on each relevant job dimension (Sulsky & Day, 1992). In essence, raters are "calibrated" so they agree on what behaviors and characteristics comprise effective performance. Research by Day and Sulsky (1995) and Woehr and Huffcut (1994) has provided initial support that FOR training increases rater accuracy across dimensions. Ideally, additional research will serve to pinpoint the most effective techniques to calibrate the raters. Given the paramount role that performance appraisal will play in the coming years, due in part to the increased demands for personnel evaluations in a fast-paced work world, it seems appropriate to devote additional space on examining the future of the field.

The Future of Performance Appraisal

Of the different areas in I/O Psychology, the one that I find the most fascinating is performance appraisal. Although the field is quite atheoretical, this lack has not limited research in the area; for PA is essentially the penultimate goal of the entire personnel system. If researchers are unable to adequately measure who performs the best on-the-job (and identify the poor ones), then recruiting, selection, testing, training, etc. become considerably less important.

I became interested in the field because of critical performance appraisal=s critical nature in a personnel system. In particular, my own research has focused on how we can improve agreement among different rating sources by using explicit comparison standards (so that raters have a common frame-of-reference). I think that developing a comprehensive theory of performance (and PA) and increasing inter-rater agreement are two of the biggest challenges for PA in the future. The student of I/O Psychology will quickly realize that the often subjective nature of performance ratings and the lack of a sound performance theory are definitive obstacles for developing sound PA instruments. The following section focuses on some of the important future strides in PA.

There are a variety of predictions that could be made concerning where PA is likely to be headed in the next 15-20 years. Although such extrapolations are always tentative there are four key areas of change in PA research: (a) a shift to new methods, (b) changes in ways of measuring performance, (c) responses to the changing nature of work, and (d) the strategic counseling of organizations in PA.

New Methods

One of the biggest shifts in PA is an increasing reliance on the multirater, or 360-degree feedback system. As previously illustrated, not only is this a hot topic in I/O Psychology, but I predict this is where the future of PA is headed. The multirater system has several advantages that enhance our ability to create innovative appraisal systems. For one thing, a multirater system creates a "team" environment for providing feedback as well as increasing the awareness of all involved in the aspects of different jobs and their requirements. Additionally, 360-degree feedback can be customized to the individual organization, allowing for external and internal customers, other company representatives, and subordinates. This adaptability is necessary in a work environment where people quickly move from one project to another and from one company to another. Ultimately, multirater feedback systems will be used both for developmental purposes as well as administrative (pay, promotion, termination) purposes. Of course, multirater systems also require a lot of people, can be time intensive, and need the support of executive management. As such, researchers will be forced to show management and organizations the inherent benefits of using such a system.

A second methodological change will be the reliance on computer technology. Some researchers and organizations are already adopting electronic monitoring devices to "observe" the performance of employees and collect data. This approach goes well beyond the traditional telephone and video camera systems of the past, computer technology allows organizations to record every keystroke, transaction, and interaction. Supervisors need not even be physically present (or even nearby) to collect the information. Through computer databases, researchers can collect enormous amounts of information that relate to job performance, thus aiding in the design of new techniques and systems. Of course, some critics (e.g., Hedge & Borman, 1995) argue that this approach may violate employee privacy rights, another topic of concern for I/O psychologists in the next century.

Finally, the way performance research is conducted will have to change in two significant ways. First, there is a need for more longitudinal designs. The vast majority of performance appraisal publications rely on "snapshot" data that take performance appraisal ratings at a single moment in time and attempt to correlate them with any multitude of variables. If PA is going to move forward, it will require studies that focus on performance trends over time using large cohorts of employees. However, this approach faces difficulty because organizations are hesitant to allow researchers access to performance information, let alone access over a multi-year time frame that may tie up significant amounts of employee time. Nonetheless, in order for PA to move forward and develop a comprehensive theory of performance, researchers must focus on longitudinal studies.

The second design change will be the increased use of field studies. PA research has relied much too heavily on the undergraduate college students as their primary sample (Banks & Murphy, 1985). Although student data may be generalizable in some instances, often the differences between a full-time college student's reactions to a PA instrument and the reactions from a 40-year department manager are miles apart (Ilgen & Favero, 1985). Academicians must make the effort to conduct more studies at the job site. Organizations must be educated to understand the overall "big picture" on why such research is necessary and the advantages it can offer in improving PA systems.

Measurement of Performance

The way we define performance is changing beyond the simple mastery of individual efforts and assigned tasks (May, 1996). The individual is clearly being replaced by the team; many employees now function as part of a work team with additional demands beyond their individual set of capabilities (e.g., conflict management, communication skills, and collaboration). Given that these skills and abilities are critical for group and organizational effectiveness, we can no longer measure only the individual. We must develop new measures and instruments that measure "group" job performance without losing accountability for the individual. These measures must take into consideration the subtle interactions between members required for a team to function effectively. For example, do certain personality types (e.g., Type A, high self-confidence, low authoritarian) work better together as a team (or alone)? Also, how do we compensate teams as opposed to individuals and still keep individuals team-focused? Perhaps the areas of team athletics and the military will serve as a beginning model for such developments.

Another measurement concern has to do with the organizational "fit" of a potential employee. No longer will it be sufficient to simply determine if the job applicant has the necessary skills to do the job, but also, whether the applicant fits well into the organizational culture. We must be able to measure both organizational culture and the person and know which combinations lead to enhanced performance (Huszczo, 1996). Ultimately, we need to know what are the best types of organizational cultures for particular individuals to thrive in; this approach creates an interesting dilemma if our best performing applicant/incumbent is not a good fit in our organizational culture. Given that organizational values help influence the importance of performance dimensions, such contextual variables will become increasingly more valued in generating the organizational "citizen." At the same time, I/O psychologists must develop methods that show these organizational factors' measures are job relevant. Perhaps the measurement of organizational citizenship behaviors will lead the way in creating not only a proper job-person fit but an organizational-person fit as well.

Changing Nature of Work

The fundamental nature of work and organizations is changing at an unprecedented rate. Corporations are "flattening out" by eliminating layers of management, increasing employee responsibilities, and restructuring themselves afterwards in previously unheard of configurations. One of the trends that will result from this approach is that fewer individuals will be available to evaluate performance. They will have less time and more non-appraisal responsibilities. Researchers must respond by exploring new ways of measuring performance without compromising validity and reliability. Clearly, computer technology and the utilization of raters beyond the supervisor (e.g., self-ratings by the employee) will help. Furthermore, with the appearance of telecommuting, employees may not even be physically present for their supervisor to observe them. Hence, Murphy and Cleveland (1995) have suggested that PA may have to change with the work, focusing more on outcomes and results than on individual performance dimensions.

Organizational Consulting and Counseling

The last area of the PA future involves a combination of changing research agendas while increasing researcher advocacy concerning performance appraisal. One of the responsibilities of an I/O psychologist, particularly a practitioner, is persuading, educating, and counseling the business world on the necessities and virtues of PA. Simply developing psychometrically sound methods, tools, and measures to evaluate performance is not enough. Researchers will be forced to generate more research that links PA to the strategic goals of organizations, reinforces organizational values and structure, provides developmental information on the employee, and shows how PA integrates into the larger human resource system (May, 1996). In other words, we cannot rely on corporate executives to pick up our research journals and suddenly "see the light"; we must conduct research that connects PA with the larger corporate picture and empirically demonstrates its inherent value.

Taking this view one step further, researchers will be forced to become more actively involved in "selling" PA systems and research. For PA research to move forward, we need to have organizations collaborating with I/O psychologists to determine what types of strategies, techniques, and interventions work. Thus, research agendas will change to include the presentation of published literature that demonstrates what techniques are effective in getting organizations to participate, understand, and incorporate PA into their structure.

Current and Future Trends in I/O Psychology and Their Relations to Performance Appraisal

Many researchers have identified likely trends that will affect I/O Psychology in the 21st century. These trends, if accurate, will have definitive consequences for the field of I/O Psychology as well as PA in particular. Knowledge and prediction of the anticipated patterns prior to their actual occurrence will enable the well-prepared I/O Psychologist (and student) to adjust personnel systems a priori instead of post hoc. Below are the predicted trends and the influences they may have on PA.

Cognitive Psychology Explosion

The last two decades of the 20th century witnessed an explosion of information in the area of cognitive psychology. This rapid growth is likely due to newer methodologies and technologies which allow researchers to better examine and understand human thought processes and neurology. I/O Psychology has been involved in this trend particularly as it regards social cognition, decision-making strategies, design of "intelligent" machines, and worker perceptions in social situations (see also Lord & Maher, 1991; Wickens, 1993).

Understanding social cognition and perception as well as decision-making processes in the work place will become critical. We know that people are prone to systematic errors (i.e., biases). Whether we are talking about training, selection, PA, or actual performance on the job, I/O psychologists need to have a deeper understanding of how the human mind processes information, particularly the role that these errors and biases play in the larger picture (Martinko, 1994).

The impact of the microprocessor and computers in the workplace cannot be overstated. These sophisticated machines not only allow us to model human cognition; some possess limited "thinking" capability and can adapt to changes in the environment. However, we must also develop software and interfaces that allow for human user interaction (i.e., make them user-friendly). Thus, the next quarter century will see computer technology and methodologies utilizing that technology as a common occurrence in the published literature.

PA has already been significantly impacted by cognitive psychology in the redesign of methodologies that focus on "how" raters observe, remember, organize, evaluate, and encode performance data. The future of PA and cognitive psychology likely rests on the development of more sophisticated computer tools that can aid people in handling vast amounts of information.

Empirical Emphasis on Work Behavior

Given the ties that I/O Psychology has to the business world, it should not be surprising that the business world's concern with "the bottom line" is gradually influencing the development of interventions, training programs, PA, and methodologies for the study of people at work. Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the need for detailed work records, turnover and absenteeism rates, documented performance evaluations, employee suggestions and inputs, as well as customer feedback on the company's performance.

I/O psychologists have responded and will continue to respond in several key ways including the continued use of advanced statistical methodologies and techniques such as meta-analysis and structural equation modeling. Meta-analysis is a statistical technique that has become increasingly popular in the I/O psychology research literature (Steiner, Lane, Dobbins, Schnur, & McConnell, 1991). Meta-analysis is essentially a quantitative literature review whereby a group of similar studies are located using a set of defined criteria, analyzed collectively, and an overall summary conclusion is drawn (thus creating an enormous N-size). For example, Iaffaldano and Muchinsky (1985) collected numerous studies to examine the overall correlation between a worker's performance and their satisfaction with the job. When these research studies were analyzed together, a small, but positive correlation was found. Although, the positive correlation was expected, the relatively small size was not. Only by analyzing hundreds of studies simultaneously were researchers able to identify the "true" relation between satisfaction and performance.

Structural equation modeling (also known as covariance structure modeling) is one of the most advanced and complex statistical techniques used in I/O methodologies to date (see Coovert, Penner, & MacCallum, 1990 for a complete review). This "cutting edge" tool allows a researcher to examine the complex interactions of many variables. By acquiring a measure of each of the pertinent variables, testing the hypothesized, directional relationship between these variables, and determining if the proposed model "fits" the data, the researcher is provided with a "goodness of fit" test that suggests the likelihood of the proposed model being accurate. The advantage of this technique is its ability to analyze dozens of variables simultaneously that may be interacting with one another. Given the complexity of work behavior, structural equation modeling is likely to be a continued phenomenon in I/O psychology's methodologies.

Together, meta-analysis, which allows the aggregation and synthesis of hundreds of PA studies, and structural equation modeling, which allows for the examination and testing of complex performance variable interactions, will lead the way in research methodologies. Given the constant changes occurring in the workplace and the infinite number of interactions, structural equation modeling will undoubtedly prove to be a more commonly used technique in the advancement of PA research.

Groups, Teams, and Quality

The total quality management (TQM) movement, inspired by W. Edwards Deming, caught on in the corporate world during the 1980s and has continued to present day. The fundamental core of TQM suggests that organizations must become more focused on quality not quantity; high quality products and services are required if organizations are going to compete in a global market. One notable change in organizations as a result of TQM is the transformation in organizational structure and utilization of employees. Employee empowerment is achieved by allowing employees and managers to work in a more group or team-oriented environment.

Low-level employees are allowed a voice in how the product should be made and ways to improve it. This empowerment often extends to equipment, safety, policies, and self-management. Quality circles and self-managed work teams are just two of the more common names used to describe work groups that meet to discuss quality-related issues and implementation of continuous, work improvement programs (Omachonu & Ross, 1994; Waldman, 1994). However, the use of work teams and an emphasis on quality creates several interesting measurement problems for I/O psychologists as illustrated earlier.

Psychologists specializing in PA will be required to develop instruments that measure team performance (e.g., work groups, departments) in addition to the traditional individual measures. Thus, as indicated by Katzell (1994), psychologists must change their "unit of analysis" from the individual to the work group. Furthermore, PA specialists will be forced to develop instruments which can measure the "quality" of a product, process, or procedure.

Cultural Diversity

Sometime in the first half of the 21st century, it is projected that white males will no longer be a majority in the workplace (Goldstein & Gilliam, 1990; Loden & Rosener, 1991). However, changes in sex and race are not the only expected changes. Significant changes in worker education, age, religious diversity, career mobility, and full vs. part-time status are expected to impact the organizations of tomorrow.

The recruitment, selection, training, and retention of this diverse work world will become key to a company's survival to say nothing of the potential litigation that will follow a business that fails to keep up with federal mandates concerning the fair hiring of employees. Moreover, cultural diversity is not limited to just typical demographic variables. The world is becoming an increasingly competitive global market where organizations must "rub shoulders" with companies all over the world. No longer may a major corporation be concerned only with domestic markets. As such, companies must implement new training programs to prepare their managers and employees to deal with international cultures, other business procedures, differences in values and ethics, and relocation to new countries if necessary (Rothwell, 1992).

The challenge for I/O psychologists studying PA will be to develop rating scales, rating systems, appraisal interviews and feedback, performance dimensions, and rater training to handle the diverse workgroup which will perform the work and be evaluated. Research studies have already shown that raters tend to give more favorable rating to members who are most similar to them (i.e., race, age, sex, culture, etc.), although many studies indicate the effects are small (Saal & Knight, 1995). This situation will be problematic for PA designers who not only must attempt to improve a dynamic system, but do so when the employees being evaluated are becoming increasingly more diverse in behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and values. Triandis, Kurowski, and Gelfand (1994) argue that roughly 50% of all Western psychology is universal, the other half is specifically a product of our Western culture. Thus, many psychological theories, concepts, and techniques may have to be significantly revised for a successful PA system.

Organizational Downsizing

As defined by Freeman and Cameron (1993), downsizing is an organizational strategy aimed at reducing a company's workforce under the assumption that it will result in enhanced competitiveness, productivity, and/or efficiency. Although many researchers think that this strategy is often flawed in many situations (e.g., Nagy, 1996), it is nonetheless, a strategy that will continue through the early years of the next century. As this downsizing trend continues, there will be many more opportunities to redesign organizations, jobs, departments, and systems. Allan Church (1995) has outlined several ways in which I/O psychologists can have an impact on the downsized organization, including PA. Those individuals who do research and implement PA systems will be required to aid in the termination of employees. This action requires a very well-developed PA system to decide which employees will remain and which employees will be terminated. Although PA is typically used to assess good, average, and poor performance, more advanced research will be required to adjust PA for its differential functions.

Advice for Future I/O Psychologists

Based on the current and predicted trends in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, there are several recommendations that I would make for anyone beginning or contemplating a career in I/O Psychology. First and foremost, any individual must have a strong, working knowledge of the field. Research and theory in I/O Psychology is abundant, complex, involved, and quantitative in nature. There is no substitute for understanding such in-depth concepts as validity generalization, job analysis, assessment centers, affirmative action, comparable worth, leaderless group discussion, true halo, predictive validity, and work samples. A graduate degree is highly encouraged because it exposes students to the most recent, state-of-the-art theories, research, measures, controversies, and methodologies.

Second, the I/O psychologist of the future must have a firm grasp of advanced statistics. Although correlations, t-tests, and simple ANOVAs should be tools in every psychologist's arsenal, I/O psychology often utilizes more advanced statistical techniques, most likely associated with the larger sample sizes that are germane to the field. Preferred areas of statistical specialization would include the following: two- and three-way ANOVAs and their subsequent interactions; understanding of moderator variables; factor analysis; multiple regression (including stepwise, blocked, and backward techniques); structural equation modeling; discriminant analysis; intraclass correlations; canonical correlation; and meta-analysis. The prepared I/O psychologist will need to understand the theory and proper use of these statistics and be familiar with their utilization via computer software packages. Similarly, the future I/O psychologist will also have to develop skills in communicating the interpretations of such analyses to those who lack sophistication in these statistical procedures.

A third requirement is a sound understanding of personnel law. It is somewhat sad to say, but an effective I/O psychologist must almost be part lawyer. Given the ever-growing number of federal guidelines, mandates, and laws that relate what can and cannot be done concerning employment, I/O psychologists will find it necessary to be current on the legality of the various statistics, techniques, and measurement instruments used, and recommendations they make. Evidence of validity and reliability, job-relatedness, minimization of adverse impact and illegal discrimination, documentation of organization policy and procedures, and general compliance with the law will become mandatory. Failure to heed this advice may land an I/O psychologist in the midst of a sizable lawsuit or competency hearing.

The fourth recommended component of the future I/O psychologist is a good working knowledge of the business world preferably derived from actual experience in the "real world." Potential I/O psychologists should seek out every opportunity to interact with companies and businesses. Whether this interaction takes the form of internships, practicums, consultation, invited addresses/seminars, a business degree, or actual employment, practical experience in business is truly a learning necessity. I/O psychology cannot function apart and separate from the corporate environment; the work place is our domain. As such, no applied psychologist can be effective without sufficient field experience. Becoming a commensurate liaison between the academic world and the business world will be a valuable skill.

Finally, the future I/O psychologist must be comfortable and experienced with computer technology. This competence extends beyond simply using basic computer knowledge and statistical software packages. Being computer literate in a variety of software programs will be necessary. Competence with word processors, databases, spreadsheets, mainframes, networking, graphics, and multimedia presentation software will be required skills. Exposure to computer classes and office software will undeniably be a valued commodity in the 21st century.

In short, the I/O psychologist of the future must be a "jack of all trades" (i.e., a generalist). He or she will be required to be part statistician, part computer expert, part scientist, part business executive, part researcher, part academician, part consultant, part lawyer, part human resources specialist, and part practitioner. All of these attributes must be juggled in a fast-paced, constantly changing work world, full of international and cultural diversity. I/O psychology will be an exciting, challenging, and heavily-relied upon discipline in the next century.


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Dr. Brian W. Schrader is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Graduate Program at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas as well as the Director of Research for the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence. His research publications span a diverse set of mediums including a psychology film, psychology web sites, research journals, book supplements, and this E-book chapter. He was recently awarded the Teachers College Excellence in Professional Service Faculty Recognition Award as well as Outstanding ESU Faculty Advisor of the Year. Dr. Schrader is a member of APA, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists (SIOP), Psychological and Educational Researchers in Kansas (PERK), Sigma Xi, and a charter member of the Great Plains Behavioral Research Association. Dr. Schrader also serves as a journal reviewer for the Journal of Psychological Inquiry and Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research as well as a proposal reviewer for the annual SIOP Conference. Dr. Schrader received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. and his B.A.s in Psychology and Chemistry from Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS. In his spare time, he also consults for local businesses, serves as the Church Council President for St. Mark's Lutheran Church, and is an active blue belt and assistant instructor in Tae-Kwan-Do.

The author may be reached at

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