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SIOP 2011: Day 1 Summary

2011 April 14
by Richard N. Landers
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SIOP 2011 Coverage: Schedule Planning | Junior Faculty Consortium
Day 1 Live Blog | Day 1 Summary | Day 2/3 Live Blog | Day 2/3 Summary

If you’re new here (I always get a bit of a surge of readers around SIOP), you’ll know that my main interests surround the use of technology in IO/OBHR. As a result, “technology” generally describes the sessions that I attend at the SIOP conference.

This year, academic sessions on technology seem to be a bit light.  I’m not sure why.  But it does mean that I am not attending as much as usual (and have less to talk about!).

Today, I started with an invited talk by Andrea Goldberg on social media and its evolving role in business (and by extension, I/O Psychology).  Andrea is an excellent speaker, and as usual, I found myself pondering social media and its quickly evolving role in organizations.  Will I/O lead this revolution or be led?

I continued on to my own symposium on current research on multi-user virtual environments (like Second Life).  It was well-attended for an event on a new technology.  I gave my own introduction on what MUVEs are, their history, and some general examples of the kinds of uses to which they might be put.  Sam Kaminsky presented fascinating research from Tara Behrend’s lab on the role of virtual worlds in recruiting, the takeaway being: virtual worlds are quite distracting and make it more difficult to remember information about an organization.  My own graduate student, Rachel Johnson, then presented the potential value of virtual worlds when designing training programs.  Thomas Whelan then presented his work in the lab of Lynda Aiman-Smith on teamwork in virtual worlds.  Finally, we had a very special presentation by Ross Brown on the intersection of business process modeling as realized in Second Life with the work we traditionally conduct in I/O Psychology.  It was all wrapped up with a fantastic discussion moderation by our discussant, Jeff Stanton.  All in all, quite a success with some very interesting questions.

After lunch, I headed to another session on social media in the workplace.  This was a little data-light (which I personally find frustrating) until the third presentation, which was a very intriguing discussion of the use of a corporate social media platform in an attempt to better support and retain aboriginal Canadian employees (roughly equivalent to affirmative action policies in the United States).  The platform was initially quite popular, followed by a drop in popularity, followed by a later resurgence after system redesign.  The drop in popularity was likely due to a lack of obvious value-added to employees; although they were very enthusiastic about the idea of the corporate social network, they would often forget it was even there.  There were a lot of parallels to my own work trying to promote underrepresented groups in STEM fields using the support systems provided by social media.

Finally, I attended a panel discussion on the virtual workplace.  While very interesting, there was not much data to speak of – it was almost as if a room full of virtual workers got together in a room to complain about how frustrating virtual work can be.

So that’s it.  Tomorrow has more posters and fewer sessions on the schedule, so the live stream will probably be a little less dense.

Post-Conference Edit: Turns out that Christopher Rosett is doing a retrospective on SIOP over at the SIOP Exchange. Here’s the link to Day 1. Take a look!

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