By The SIOP Executive Board
There have been multiple initiatives to change the name of our field – and SIOP – over the past 30 years. As noted by Highhouse (2007), the most recent effort occurred in 2004 when 554 members voted for a name based on a choice between five alternatives, including the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Society for Organizational Psychology, and the Society for Work Psychology. As Highhouse noted, “although there were more votes from the membership to change the name than to retain the I-O label …, no name change occurred.” That is, SIOP was retained as the name for our society, even though it received less than 50% of the votes. A number of SIOP leaders including Milt Hakel and, more recently, Frank Landy, have opined that in a vote of two alternatives, members would likely vote for an alternative to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
The issue of the name change was again raised last year by Landy who approached then President Gary Latham requesting a fairer vote of members. Landy wrote a brief article appearing in the October issue of TIP laying out the rationale for a vote, and including a poll of 22 former SIOP presidents, 18 of whom favored a name change and the majority of those preferring “Organizational Psychology” over “Work Psychology” as the alternative to the status quo. Between the October Executive Committee meeting and the April Executive Board meeting, EC/EB members debated and considered a number of issues related to a vote for a name change, including: what the alternative name should be, how a tag line adopted for branding purposes does or does not affect the attractiveness of a name change, what the legal and financial implications of a name change are , and how members shouldbe educated about and involved in the name change vote. At the April, 2009 meeting, the Executive Board voted to hold a 3-month online education and commentary period, and, given sufficient interest in a vote by members participating in the commentary, hold an electronic vote on the name change. It is important to recognize that the Board sees its role not so much as advocating for a change, but for a fair process to allow members to vote on a change.
More posts will follow to help explain some of the important factors of a possible name change. For answers to frequently asked questions regarding a SIOP name change, read the "FAQs" in upcoming SIOP Exchange posts!
What should you 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 and following posts.