The following are answers to frequently asked questions about a possible SIOP name change. To be sure the Executive Board gets your feedback, post your comments about a possible new name below.
What is the reason for a name change?
As Highhouse (2007) pointed out, we have changed our name several times, and considered changing it other times, in response to either changing social norms or the emergence of new areas of study within the discipline. We were the division of "industrial and business psychology" in the American Association of Applied Psychology (prior to its merger with APA), until "business" was dropped in about 1962. "Organizational" was added into our name in the early 1970s both to reflect the growing awareness of organizational contexts in our research, andthe desire to appeal more broadly to scholars (who chose not to be members of Division14).
Over the last decade, there have been two forces for change. The first is a sense that the term "industrial" no longer characterizes what we do in terms of the content, context, or service sectors. The second is a desire for a stronger brand identity for our profession and our society, and the thought that this could be accomplished, in part, through a name change. With our recent emphasis on visibility and advocacy, and developing stronger relationships with international organizations, the time is right to consider a name change which more effectively and concisely communicates who we are.
What's wrong with our current name?
For those who desire a name change, it is primarily the "industrial" term that bothers them. In his recent TIP article, Landy captured the sentiment of many members:
1) There are too many syllables in the current name;
2) "Industrial" is both confusing and archaic for the 21st century. People think we are industrial engineers or work only in industry (writ small.
3) The use of "industrial" in our name separates us from most other international societies that do not use the name.
4) The term industrial is not well-suited for branding ourselves going forward.
In 2008, SIOP hired a marketing firm to do a branding study, which included a recommendation for a name which better indicates externally who we are and what we do. The firm recommended dropping "industrial" (in favor of Applied Organizational Psychology).
Finally, in 2002, SIOP's Long Range Planning Committee conducted 41 interviews of a cross-section of membership asking about both their preferences for a name change and their reservations about the current name. Interviewees preferred a name change by a slim margin. Reservations about the current name included:
1) It's too long
2) "Industrial" is dated and has negative connotations (one respondent said it conjures up images of smokestacks)
3) No one knows what I/O means
4) It tends to polarize the I and the O.
In response to specific questions, 71% agreed that our name is too long, 71% agreed that "SIOP" is not descriptive, and 79% agreed that "SIOP" is antiquated.
What's good about our current name?
In the same 2002 study, 51% indicated that we would lose name recognition and/or identity by changing our name. In the 2004 vote, the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology captured the greatest number of votes, albeit less than 50%.
The acronym SIOP is comfortable and sounds good. Any new acronym would take getting use to, and some are visually unattractive (e.g, SOP and SWOP).
While "ndustrial" may have lost meaning externally, internally it connotes job analysis, recruitment, and selection, core areas of research and practice in our profession. Many members believe they regularly practice "industrial psychology."
"Industrial" connects us with our past. As one Executive Board member stated, it would be unfortunate if, at the 25th anniversary of our first SIOP conference, we also announce that this is our last SIOP conference.
What should I do now?
We encourage you to participate in an online discussion of the name change through the comment feature, as the decision to hold a vote in the late summer rests in part on how our members react to the issues contained in this FAQ. More frequently asked questions can be found in subsequent posts.