Edited by Steven G. Rogelberg
Review by Vlad Glăveanu
To cover an extensive topic such as research methods in organizational psychology is most definitely an ambitious goal. Nowadays more than ever researchers and practitioners are dealing with an overwhelming variety of methods and designs. With these new concerns arise, among them the problem of choosing the most adequate methodology, of increasing the validity of our instruments, of collecting and reporting data while respecting research ethics.
In the intricate labyrinth of methods the “Handbook of Research Methods in Industrial and Organizational Psychology” represents an exceptional guide destined to help the organizational scientist make the right choices in performing high-quality research. Edited by Steven Rogelberg, it has been first published in paperback in 2002 by Blackwell Publishing as part of the Blackwell Handbooks of Research Methods in Psychology series.
The book is organized into four main parts reflecting the four major stages of organizational research. First the “Foundations” are discussed, offering the reader a greater understanding of research paradigms and key-concepts. Second, we find a comprehensive view on “Data Collection Procedures and Approaches” discussing both traditional and cutting-edge data-gathering techniques. Third we have “Data Investigation”, a core aspect covering data analysis procedures. Finally, a guideline for effectively presenting research results is offered and the handbook concludes with a chapter addressing the key challenges faced by the community of industrial and organizational researchers.
Within the first part, “Foundations”, several topics are explored. The first chapter presents a short history of research methods in industrial and organizational psychology focused on the development of measurement methods, research designs and analysis techniques.
The second chapter is dedicated to “Research Ethics” and participants’ rights (informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, protection from deception, debriefing), reflecting one of the most pressing concerns of organizational scientists. Special circumstances such as resolving complaints or performing research using the Internet are discussed with a focus on ethical imperatives.
Most of the first part (chapters 3-6) addresses crucial problems in I/O research: validity and reliability, research designs, qualitative methods and power analysis.
The second part, “Data Collection Procedures and Approaches”, is opened by a chapter dedicated to surveys as one of the flourishing trends in today’s organizational research. A special attention is given to Internet / Intranet surveys.
The following chapter addresses the rich legacy of qualitative data collection and analysis methods used in organizations with a focus on interviews and focus-groups, open-ended surveys, observation-based approaches and case studies. From well-known qualitative methods we are invited to investigate a revolutionary research methodology successfully used in natural sciences: computational modeling. Benefits and limitations of modeling are presented as well as examples of research with great importance for I/O researchers (such as modeling organizational withdrawal).
We are long passed the time when research meant single studies focusing on a certain level of a national organization. Researchers are increasingly “forced” to put their research results in perspective through meta-analysis, to study multi-level organizational constructs and have a cross-cultural overview. Chapters ten, eleven and twelve address these topics, showing their utility for organizational scientists and their weight in contemporary research.
If at the beginning of the second part we were introduced to organizational surveys in the last chapter we are invited to step beyond online surveys and discover Internet research opportunities for industrial-organizational psychology. A world of new possibilities opens in front of our eyes: field experiments using a browser, behavioral observation using virtual reality, online interviewing, naturalistic observations using webcams, smartcards and “little brothers”, participant observation in virtual organizations and the analysis of Internet archives. It is a glance into the future I/O research, a realistic and not an overenthusiastic portrait of innovative methods that will most probably thrive in the decades to come.
Finally, the third major part, “Data Investigation”, starts with two chapters: one addressing the topic of outliners and influential cases and the other discusses the proper ways of coping with missing data (listwise or pairwise deletion, mean substitution, hot deck imputation and others).
Since scale development is a central element in the work of every organizational psychologist chapter sixteen presents item analysis as seen from the point of view of classical and modern test theory. This section also includes a comparative analysis of CCT and IRT. The topic of data investigation wouldn’t be complete without discussing method variance and bias and especially the ways of controlling them (chapter seventeen).
The last four chapters of this part (18-21) address themes related to confirmatory factor analysis and modeling data structures (the general linear model, longitudinal modeling, modeling nonlinear relationships). The statistical and practical implication of using such data investigation methods is analyzed taking into account the nature and complexity of organizational variables.
As we mentioned earlier, the final part focuses on how to disseminate research results though articles and how to secure our collective future: eight challenges faced by I/O researchers.
One of the first features that recommend this handbook as a promoter of research excellence is high scientific quality: it gathers articles signed by prestigious scholars and professionals in the field of methodology and data-analysis. The variety of themes is also impressive, starting with research ethics, validity and reliability, research design and up to cross-cultural organizational research and modeling complex data structures. If no book can cover all the research-related aspects in industrial and organizational psychology this handbook comes close to this ideal and, most of all, offers information in a comprehensive manner, logically organized and presented. This is why we consider it as readable and useful, combining theoretical and practical aspects and, by this, destined for both students and specialists. Finally, another great merit is that of focusing simultaneously on research paradigms that became tradition as well as contemporary or even revolutionary designs and methods such as the ones using the Internet or computational modeling.
In concluding, “The Handbook of Research Methods in Industrial and Organizational Psychology” is a milestone marking the constant evolution of organizational research methods and offering a wide-ranging outlook on the past, present and near future of this vast domain.