Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet the new SIOP...same as the old SIOP

The votes are in, and the new name for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is...the same.

After over a thousand votes from members, the existing acronym beat The Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP) by a tally of 51% to 49%--a difference of 15 votes. You can read my comments about this option--and my prediction of the outcome--here.

Why is this non-news, news? Because it's problematic that the main professional, scientific body that devotes itself to researching the psychology of organizations and work (POW!) repeatedly has identity issues. This is in large part because of the word "industrial", which makes it sound like we're all studying factory workers. I am not alone in having people look at me sideways when I attempt to explain our field.

To be perfectly honest, I am reluctant to describe my focus as "psychology", except to others in the same field. It sidetracks the conversation (perhaps due to my insufficient skill). It's much easier to connect with people by saying I'm in Human Resources. This isn't to say that the focus on psychology isn't important, or that others in I/O psychology might not mind using this phrase, or that there isn't some brand value in SIOP. But call me crazy, if you're reluctant to name your field (and attorneys don't count--people know, or think they know, what you do), the profession has a problem.

So, our identity struggle continues. An interesting follow-up study might be to ask SIOP members how they describe their field of work to non-I/O folk and break that down by area of focus. It's a big tent.

Personally, I prefer something that includes Work and Organizational. Mix and match letters as you will.

On a positive note, did you know you can access all of SIOP's quarterly news publication, TIP, here? The January 2010 issue has pieces on integrated performance management, a preview of Lewis v. City of Chicago, and a lot more.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I was pretty unengaged in the whole debate simply because one acronym wasn't going to be any better than the other for describing what I do.

Interesting comments about the use of the word "psychology" in describing that, though. The "Oh, are you going to ask me to lie on your couch?" jokes are pretty tedious, and people can't seem to understand that I'm not a psychIATRIST. But on the other hand, I'm also reticent to just throw in the towel and say that I'm a HR guy, even if that's where a lot of IO folks reside on the org chart.