The 30 Most Influential Industrial and Organizational Psychologists Alive Today

By Tanja Babic, PhD

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In the modern world, success of corporations is often driven by their employees and teams. Understanding how human behaviors affect the workplace is the main objective of industrial and organizational psychology, also known as I/O psychology. I/O psychologists study factors that promote motivation, team work and productivity, as well as management practices that improve employee’s performance. There are many industrial and organizational psychologists working towards improving working conditions, however, the following 30 people were chosen based on the following criteria:

1. Publications: Majority of the individuals on this list have outstanding publication records. These publications include articles in scientific journals, books and book chapters.

2. Impact on industrial and organizational practices: Although academic research is an important aspect of psychology, its influence can only be assessed once ideas are put into practice and applied in a workplace. Men and women on this list have made a significant impact on modern practices and policies in a workplace.

3. Influence on future research directions: While many researchers have published important papers in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, priority was given to those who have made a substantial change in the way in which certain theories are viewed, or those who have led the way into novel research areas.

4. Awards and recognitions: Most psychologists on this list have been recognized for their achievements by various international professional societies, foundations and even Queen Elizabeth II

1. Stanley Silverman

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Dr. Silverman is the dean of the Summit College and University College at the University of Akron. His area of expertise is the effect that arrogant bosses have on a workplace. He devised a new measure of arrogance called “Workplace Arrogance Scale,” which is used to determine whether managers possess arrogant tendencies.

2. Anita Woolley

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Just like individuals, teams possess a certain level of intelligence. This concept of “collective intelligence” is the focus of Dr. Woolley’s research. She is an assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. One of the most interesting findings of her recent research is that team intelligence is positively correlated with the number of women on the team. This study was published in the prestigious journal Science in 2010.

3. David Rock

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The Neuroleadership Institute was founded in order to bring together neuroscience and leadership experts and to enhance the science of leadership. The institute’s founder, Dr. David Rock, is the author of two business best-sellers and is a blogger for the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, Psychology Today and the Huffington Post.

4. Jay Van Bavel

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Dr. Van Bavel is an assistant professor of psychology at New York University and a member of the Neuroleadership Institute. His research uses a unique combination of neuroimaging, psychophysiological and behavioral techniques to study the relationship between the environment and group identities. He has published numerous papers in psychology journals and his research is frequently featured by international media.

5. Gary Namie

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Workplace bullying is now a widely recognized phenomenon, thanks to Dr. Namie, who is the leading authority on the subject and the director of the Workplace Bullying Institute. He wrote the largest-ever US survey on workplace bullying and is the author of several books. Dr. Namie taught psychology and management courses for over two decades, and was recognized with teaching awards.

6. Fred Luthans

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The study of organizational behavior, now a well-recognized subject in management, stemmed from the work of Dr. Fred Luthans. In his early research, Dr. Luthans applied reinforcement as a means of improving employee performance. His “Organizational Behavior Modification Theory” has been rated among the top eight theories in organizational psychology, based on importance, validity and usefulness. His research interests also include international management and leadership. He has received many awards and holds an honorary doctorate from DePaul University.

7. Victor Vroom

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Dr. Vroom of Yale University is one of the leading experts in the fields of organizational behavior, leadership and decision making. In 1964, he published a seminal book Work and Motivation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award from the Academy of Management and Distinguished Scientifc Contributions Award from the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

8. Jeffrey Stanton

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Dr. Jeffrey Stanton is a professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. His research focuses on job satisfaction, work-related stress and psychometrics, as well as on the relationship between organizational behavior and technology. He has published numerous research papers and several books.

9. Dennis Organ

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Certain behaviors improve the functioning of the organization, although they are not necessarily rewarded or recognized. I/O psychologists call these behaviors “organizational citizenship”, a term coined by Dr. Organ, professor emeritus of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Dr. Organ’s research efforts have produced four books and over 50 articles. His expertise was recognized by several professional societies. He was elected a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of North Carolina.

10. Marc Effron

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Although not an academic, Marc Effron has influenced the field of I/O psychology by helping some of the world’s largest companies improve the quality of their talent. He is the founder of the Talent Quarterly Magazine, which brings together global management leaders. He is also the president of the Talent Strategy Group. He co-authored several books, including the best-selling One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value.

11. Morgan McCall

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Dr. McCall is a professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California’s School of Business, where his research focuses on the development of the next generation of leadership. In his book High Flyers, he challenges the conventional wisdom that best executives possess a set list of traits, and proposes that successful executives are characterized by their ability to learn and adapt to novel situations. Dr. McCall’s accomplishments have earned him several awards, including the Distinguished Professional Contributions Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

12. Wendong Li

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The interaction between individual and environmental factors that promote proactivity is the main topic of Dr. Wendong Li’s research. Dr. Li obtained a PhD in Management in 2013 and is currently an assistant professor at the Kansas State University. He has published numerous articles and book chapters and was featured in an interview by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

13.Maya Shankar

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The influence of Dr. Shankar’s work impacts people worldwide. She holds a PhD from Oxford University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. She is currently the senior White House policy advisor. In her current role, she uses her behavioral science expertise to influence federal programs and policies. She is coordinating Social and Behavioral Science Team in an effort to use science and innovation to promote government performance and efficiency.

14. Greg Oldham

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“Job Characteristics Theory” is based on the principle that challenging tasks serve as motivation, whereas monotonous or boring tasks suppress motivation and lead to employee dissatisfaction. This theory was developed by Dr. Oldham, a professor at Tulane University, and his colleague Richard Heckman. The theory provides a set of principles for enriching jobs and is widely used by organizations. Dr. Oldham’s research has been published in prestigious journals in the fields of organizational psychology and management. He is a fellow of the Academy of Management, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association

15. Steven Sauter

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The field of occupational health and safety has been greatly influenced by the work of Dr. Steven Sauter. In his work, he used behavioral sciences to promote workers’ health and safety and implemented practices that reduce work-related injuries and promote workers’ wellbeing. He edited several influential books, which are used as textbooks across the world.

16. Thomas Cox

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Work-related stress is one of the biggest factors that lowers productivity and affects employee health. Our current understanding of the negative consequences of stress are largely due to research efforts of Sir Thomas Cox, the chair of Occupational Health Psychology and Management at Birbeck University of London. His desire to make a difference in people’s working lives through research has led to the publication of many articles and books. He also received numerous awards for his accomplishments, the major one being the recognition of the Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

17. Cary Cooper

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Sir Cary Cooper is the Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology at Lancaster University. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the areas of occupational health and workplace stress. He has written on subjects of work-life balance, improving performance and burnout. He has authored many journal articles and is the recipient of many prestigious awards, the greatest one being the recognition by the Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.

18. Edward Deci

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Keeping employees motivated and productive is a prominent topic of I/O psychology. Dr. Deci, a professor of psychology and social sciences at the University of Rochester, along with his colleague Dr. Richard Ryan coined self-determination theory (SDT), which describes individuals’ self-motivation. SDT is widely employed today, not only in organizations, but also in sports, health care, education and relationships.

19. Richard Ryan

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Co-founder of SDT, Dr. Ryan is an internationally recognized researcher in the fields of motivation and wellbeing. He has published over 250 research articles, books and book chapters and given addresses worldwide. He is currently a professor of Clinical and Social Sciences at the University of Rochester

20. Edward Lawler

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The issue of employee compensation is an important aspect of management and Dr. Lawler is one of the leading contributors in this field of research. He is the Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California and has been recognized as one of the leading figures in management and human resources by several major publications, including Fortune and BusinessWeek. In his latest book, Effective Human Resource Management he discusses how the role of human resources should change to meet the demands of modern and future markets.

21. Richard Klimoski

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Dr. Klimoski is the director of the Society for Human Resource Management and is a professor in the School of Management at George Mason University. His research is focused on effective management and successful leadership. He has published in and served on the editorial board for numerous journals and co-authored several books. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Association, the Association of Scientific Psychology and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He is also a member of the advisory board of several businesses and foundations.

22. Nancy Tippins

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Selection of employees is one of the first and most important steps in ensuring an organization’s effectiveness. Dr. TIppins combines her psychology expertise and leadership skills to help companies select employees, reduce hiring mistakes and develop their leadership strategies. She is a former president of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and is a recipient of the society’s Distinguished Service Award.

23. Elaine Pulakos

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Dr. Pulakos’ work focuses on performance management reform. She has written articles that have fundamentally shifted performance management. Her influence in the field has been recognized by numerous awards, including the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s Distinguished Professional Contributions Award. She has authored several books, which provide practical advice on management methods that improve performance.

24. Lawrence James

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Many companies are increasingly relying on personality tests as an aid in employee selection. Dr. James is a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is one of the founding partners of Innovative Assessment Technology, which specializes in new methods of personality assessment. He has published over 70 articles as well as the book Personality in Work Organizations, which covers topics such as leadership, job performance and team functioning.

25. Wayne Cascio

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An expert in human resource management, Dr. Cascio is a professor of management at the University of Colorado Denver. His research efforts have produced 27 books and over 150 articles and helped shape the direction of research in industrial and organizational psychology. He is a recipient of the Career Achievement Award by the Academy of Management.

26. Eduardo Salas

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Dr. Salas, a professor at the University of Central Florida, is another recipient of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s Distinguished Professional Contributions Award. His research helps organizations foster team work, facilitate training effectiveness, develop performance measuring tools and design learning environments, to name a few. He has co-authored over 300 journal articles and book chapters and has co-edited 15 books.

27. Robert Lord

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Dr. Lord, currently a professor of Leadership at the Durham University, uses neurocognitive science to understand leadership, emotions and identity. Through his research efforts, he has published over 125 articles and book chapters and has greatly influenced the modern view of leadership. His research on control theory published in the 2010 Annual Review of Psychology is considered to be one of the leading influences in shaping research in that area. He received the Leadership Quarterly Distinguished Scholar Award and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.

28. Richard Arvey

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Discrimination and bias in the selection of employees have become important topics in modern management. Research on this topic has been greatly influenced by Dr. Arvey of the National University of Singapore. Dr. Arvey has demonstrated that genetic factors play a role in a range of job attitudes and behaviors. He has published more than 100 articles, book chapters and reports. He has received numerous awards and has been recognized as one of the top 10 most published authors by the Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology.

29. Rob McKenna

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Dr. McKenna is the Chair of the Department of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Seattle Pacific University. His main interest is helping leaders during challenging times. He is the author of several books, including Dying to Lead: Sacrificial Leadership in a Self-Centered World.

30. David Yamada

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Dr. Yamada is another expert on workplace bullying and the host of the blog Minding the Workplace. He is the director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University. He wrote the first law review article on the subject of workplace bullying and drafted the Healthy Workplace Bill. He often speaks at international conferences and has been quoted by influential media such as The Wall Street Journal and Fortune.