SIOP Week: E. Jane Davidson on SIOP and AEA’s best-kept secrets!

My name is Jane Davidson and I run an evaluation consulting business called Real Evaluation Ltd. I also run a fun blog with Patricia Rogers at My doctoral training was in organizational psychology (with some industrial psyc at Master’s level), which is the career I was pursuing when I stumbled across evaluation. I was stunned by the synergies between the two disciplines. Why would an evaluator want to connect with SIOP, or an I/O psychologist with AEA? Lots of reasons! Here are some that I draw on regularly for ideas and inspiration…

Hot Tip (for evaluators): Don’t ever underestimate the value of looking at other areas of evaluation! The ‘industrial’ side of I/O psychology includes some really advanced thinking and methodologies in the area of personnel evaluation, covering assessment for selection, succession planning, and promotion as well as performance appraisal.

In personnel selection, the main task is ranking candidates, so there are methodologies here that have incredibly useful applications for evaluations that require any form of comparison, e.g. deciding which of several pilot programs should be rolled out more widely.

The real goldmine in the performance appraisal literature is the work on the psychology of it all – how it motivates, demotivates, what kinds of systems and approaches really work to drive a culture of excellence rather than fear. The exact same psychological forces are in play for the evaluation of programs, policies, projects, and other evaluands – and we have much to learn!

Hot Tip (for I/O psychologists): Have you ever felt like just about all of I/O psyc was ‘done’, that it’s hard to make a real contribution except in the tiniest of trivial niches? Wrong! There is an enormous need for the development of cutting-edge approaches to evaluating organizational change in all its forms. By far the biggest traction for evaluation has been in evaluating training programs (Jack Philips’ ROI work and Kirkpatrick’s four levels training evaluation model come to mind).

We have also seen some contributions over the years on the evaluation of organizational change, personnel selection and performance appraisal. Unfortunately, most of these have been pretty weak, when viewed through an evaluation lens. Many assume that it’s just a case of tracking a few metrics; that it’s impossible to say whether particular outcomes are more valuable than others; and that big-picture answers to strategic questions can’t be answered in direct terms that will make straight-talking sense to organizational leaders.

The good news is that the growing discipline of evaluation has some insightful answers for how to get this right – and to guide truly powerful utilization of evaluation at all levels of the organization.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Week with our SIOP colleagues. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SIOP members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting SIOP resources. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.

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