How to Succeed in Business (While Really Trying): The Needs for New Institutions of Lifelong Learning

This post begins with an article review about topical trends in I/O Psychology and concludes that new institutions of learning and research are needed to support business.

Article Review

Cascio, W.F. & Aguinis, H. (2008). Research in Industrial and Organizational Psychology From 1963 to 2007: Changes, Choices, and Trends, Journal of Applied Psychology, 93 (#5), 1062-1081.

Primary Conclusion: Industrial Organizational Psychology is at risk of being irreverent to business because it does not focus on the concerns of todays practitioners.  13 areas of research are suggested that are important to practitioners.  These are the 5 areas they list that also interest me:

Research Needs in Business

  1. Leadership development: How might an organization identify and develop ambidextrous leaders who can inspire and motivate both older and younger generations of workers? What approaches to training can help organizational members acquire these leadership skills?
  2. Talent management: In the quest to maximize performance, some argue that talent is most important; others say that management systems enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Can I–O psychology disentangle the relative contributions of people and systems to effective performance?
  3. Culture transformation: How do transformational processes differ in bottom-up versus top-down approaches to culture transformation? Can an existing senior- management team refloat the boat?
  4. Managing change: How can we teach people to embrace change? What is the role of change management in the innovation process? How can leaders accelerate the change-management process?
  5. Increasing diversity: How can we link the broad concept of diversity (e.g., of thought, of approaches to innovation and change, of orientation toward teamwork) to improved performance at the individual, team, and organizational levels?

What’s to be Done

How do we bring this knowledge to light and provide better support to business leaders?  The main suggestions in this article were to make research topics in I/O Psychology more relevant to everyday business, to get academics out into the field with practitioners (business sabbaticals for academics), and to get senior business leaders into academia (academic sabbaticals for business leaders).  I , however, would suggest that academic institutions can not be all things to all people.  Today, because of the need for agile leadership and lifelong learning, new types of learning and research institutions are needed to support businesses. The functional aspects of business networks and communities of practice need to be fully understood and their functional requirements institutionalized.