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Exploring New Research Methods to Enhance Studies


by Abby Welsh, SIOP Intern

Latest Organizational Frontiers Book Shows Ways to Bring New Ideas to the Field

When conducting research, those in our field should be willing to break away from traditional methodologies and to explore novel interpretations of organizational phenomena. They also should be aware of not only the correct way to conduct research but also the consequences of doing it wrong.

In SIOP’s latest addition to The Organizational Frontiers Series, Modern Research Methods for the Study of Behavior in Organizations, editors José M. Cortina and Ronald S. Landis expect that this volume will address methodological issues in I-O research by introducing new research methods that are not familiar to psychologists and by expanding upon some old favorites.

Cortina said chapters in this volume are intended to challenge researchers to break away from traditional methodologies and to capitalize upon the wealth of data collection strategies available to I-O psychologists.

“This volume contains a set of transforming chapters to help us answer questions about our science and practice and to increase our methodological toolbox,” Series Co-editor Eduardo Salas emphasized.

Salas also added how there is “food for thought” and tools for graduate students and for seasoned scientists and practitioners.

Issues such as the catastrophe theory, social network analysis, and neuroscience are only a few of the topics covered in this book, which will add breadth and depth for psychologists.

“We wanted to include chapters that were sufficiently pedagogical in nature that readers be able to apply the methods to their own research almost immediately,” said co-editor Cortina, a professor in the psychology department at George Mason University.

In fact, the editors ambition is that the book begin to transform the field of I-O psychology by transforming research methods.

For example, the chapter written by Stephen J. Guastello is cited by Cortina because it discusses “how to conceptualize and model discontinuous phenomena, which I believe to be quite common but which are almost entirely ignored by our field.”

When learning skills, people generally plod along before suddenly having a “eureka” moment during which skills change qualitatively. We in our field would tend to model this phenomenon as continuous, even linear, when in fact it is discontinuous.

Another example is neuroimaging, which is described in the chapter written by Cory S. Adis and James C. Thompson. The chapter explains how different neuroimaging techniques work and how they can be applied to I-O research topics.

“We claim to be psychologists, but we seem to have little interest in the brain. Economics is embracing neuroscience and so are political science, marketing, and many other areas.” Cortina explained. “We wanted a chapter that could not only explain how neuroimaging techniques work but how they might be applied to the organizational phenomena.”

Cortina and Landis wanted not only to provide guidance to those who want to test more exceptional models but also to get people thinking about, and testing appropriately, more complex models of organizational phenomena.
“We in our field have a problem with methods. Part of the problem is ignorance of appropriate methods and the other part is indifference due to under appreciation of the consequences of poor methods,” Cortina explained.

Cortina and Landis encourage readers to think critically when reading, while noticing how each chapter may help I-O psychologists think about research differently.

The methods explained in the book can allow readers to look at their research in a different way while providing ways of taking their investigations and theories in a new and better direction.

“I wouldn’t say these methods are easier to understand than older ones, but they do allow us to address existing questions in an easier or better way,” Cortina added.

Both Cortina and Landis say this volume will move I-O psychologists forward as a field by guiding researchers to utilize a wider variety of methods.

“We believe these chapters will provide compelling solutions for the complex problems faced by organizational researchers,” Cortina said.