Evolution of IO Psychology in Era of Big Data

Posted by HR Analytics on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Under: Org Psychology

The field of I/O Psychology has been continually evolving since its inception in the early 1900s.  It has adapted to major societal shifts and events including World Wars 1 and 2, the Civil Rights Movement, the Internet, and the developments in psychological theories before the turn of the millennium such as behavioral and positive psychology. And then in the early years of this millennium, our civilization experienced increased globalization and rapid advancements in technology. I/O Psychology recognized these changes, adapted and even thrived.  And then just a few years later, as society became increasingly more digital and more automated, it appeared that I/O Psychology would have to go through another transformation.  This is the era of big data.  With the previous years’ advancements in computer technology and with the automation of many of our society’s transactions, we are now surrounded by, if not drowning in, data.  


In the workplace, many of the HR transactions, from recruiting to retiring, have been largely automated.  Not only have these transactions been automated and digitized but they have also been stored in data warehouses, waiting to be called up for analyses.  What used to be ordinary daily transactions can now be used to provide meaningful information that can lead to critical strategic business decisions.  The amount of time it took to hire, the source of job applications, the number of years of retention, the number of eligible retirees were all just numbers but now, with big data analytics, companies can now analyze those transactional data, paint a picture of how things are going, and identify what areas of the business need improvement.  Organizational climate surveys or perception data can now be triangulated with real events data and thus painting a bigger picture of how the workforce is doing and how it is impacting the business.  Data points can be connected with other data points.  Competency data points can now be triangulated with climate survey data, or retention data, or retirement data.  And with all this big data in the HR department, there might just be a nice niche for I/O Psychologists and it is an opportune fit.  Those years spent learning statistics and quantitative analyses using a variety of statistical softwares can now be even more impactful in the business world.  Those regression models and other multivariate models I/O Psychologists learned to build can now be used to connect the various HR data points.  And there is also the human elements or "psychology" elements involved in big data.  Behind these data are human behaviors and I/O Psychology skills come in handy in understanding and interpreting what these data mean.   I/O Psychology is in a very favorable position to handle the big data coming out of the HR department, to interpret them, and to provide the findings and evidence to inform the business decision-making process.  I/O Psychology, in the past, has demonstrated to be adaptable to many of the complex societal events and this big data phenomenon presents another opportunity to demonstrate that adaptability.

In : Org Psychology 


Tags: io psychology  big data 
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