What alternative names would we be voting on?
In response to multiple criticisms of the last vote (with 5 choices), the Executive Board is proposing the name “The Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology and the “The Society for Organizational Psychology” as the two alternatives. The latter name was selected with full recognition that there is no consensus on a new name, but that Organizational Psychology consistently emerges as the preferred alternative.
What are some alternatives and why Organizational Psychology?
In the 2004 election, the alternatives were the Society for Organizational Psychology, the Society for Work Psychology, the Society for Work & Organizational Psychology, and the Society for Business Psychology. Among the alternatives, Organizational Psychology received the most votes followed by Work Psychology. The Society for Work & Organizational Psychology does little to solve the length problem. Advocates of work psychology note that virtually everything we study involves work in some capacity, therefore the name is inclusive. However, for others, the name connotes too narrow a focus, conjuring images of, say, time-and-motion studies (or as Landy writes, get-your-hands-dirty work) more so than implementing organizational change or enhancing leader effectiveness. Organizational psychology, considered as a descriptor of where our research is done and who benefits is seen as more inclusive by many members.
“Work” and “Work and Organizational Psychology” were both considered by the marketing firm that recommended “Applied Organizational Psychology” as the name that would best brand us externally. (The Executive Committee dropped “applied” because it draws attention away from our profession’s broad research contributions.)
While one of our first global partners, EAWOP, includes work in their society name, across all international associations and societies, more use organizational than work in their name.
While there has been no systematic polling of all members with respect to an alternative name, past samples show a clear preference for organizational psychology. Landy does not present a count of his poll of past-presidents, but wrote that most preferred organizational psychology. In the 2004 vote, the Society for Organizational Psychology received 21.1% of the vote, Society for Work Psychology 12.1%. In the 2002 interviews, 59.5% liked the name “Society for Organizational Psychology,” and only 38.1% liked “Society for Work Psychology.”
Does this mean we are going to be the Society for Organizational Psychology or SOP?
Not necessarily. A number of members have expressed dissatisfaction with the SOP acronym. We could use that acronym and pronounce each letter as in “S-O-P”. This is what the Society for Organizational Behavior does. It is also possible that the society name could be changed to something like The Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP) or the International Society for Organizational Psychology (ISOP) to avoid the SOP acronym.
Regardless of the full society name and acronym chosen, the vote would be between “industrial-organizational psychology” and “organizational psychology” as the core identifier of who we are. The full society name and acronym will be on name change ballot. In the mean time, the Executive Board will entertain suggestions to alternatives which keep the basic "organizational psychology" element.
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.