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It’s time to vote in the 2018 GOHWP Elections!

Voting is now open!

To vote, please click on the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser. If you are a full member, you’ll be asked to vote for the chair, vice chair, and 3 board members at large. If you are a student member, you will vote for the aforementioned positions, as well as a student representative

Or, the short form:

The election will be open until Saturday, October 27th. We will announce the new GOHWP Executive Board shortly thereafter.

Thank you for your participation in this important process!


Morrie Mullins, on behalf of the GOHWP Leadership Team

Organizational Democracy

From GOHWP Member Matt Grabowski, IUPUI Doctoral Candidate, USA


Democracy is a cornerstone in western society. Many major governments operate utilizing the principles of democracy such that their citizens are encouraged to participate in their government and that the voice of the people can be heard. Though it has its flaws, we consider democracy to be superior to any other form of governance, yet organizations often do not operate by these principles.


Even organizations that employ thousands of people are usually governed by just a handful who use their resources as they see fit, even if their actions are not in the best interests of the majority. It seems counterintuitive to believe that people collectively should have control over how they are governed in greater society but not in the businesses they spend nearly one third of their life working. The concept of organizational democracy differs entirely from the typical hierarchical power structure by bringing many of the same principles we use in a democratic society into the organization.


Organizational democracy is exactly what it sounds like. It is employing the principle of “one person, one vote” into the workplace to ensure a voice is given to all workers. Organizational democracy is not as simple as just giving everyone a chance to vote on certain topics, this is a system that is built into the structure of the organization that guarantees the power of the majority. Specifically, employees in democratic organizations are tasked to participate in all levels of decision making with equal weight, and this is considered part of their responsibilities to the organization. These decisions range from simple proximal things (e.g. employee PTO or the purchasing new equipment for their department) to large scale decisions (e.g. what products/services will the company offer and how the profits are distributed).


A few companies exist using this type of model. The most notable example, Mondragon is worker cooperative federation which is made up of 261 companies and co-operatives (including a university) which collectively employ 74,335 people. The company was founded in Spain over 60 years ago and now operates internationally. As a democratic system, members of the co-operative federation participate in decision making collectively by form of a congress in which the members are elected to their positions to represent their respective co-operative members. While some members of the organization may hold a higher elected position, even lower member still get to participate with their vote being equally weighted.


The bulk of the research on organizational democracy is theoretical and comes from outside the field of psychology. Research in sociology and economics seems to focus on the larger impact of democratic organizations within society, but research at the organizational level and the individual level seems limited. Research from applied psychology fields have addressed the effects of culture and structure on democracy in the workplace, attitude and motivational differences of employees in democratic organizations versus non-democratic organizations, and even the effects of democracy on a few behaviors like organizational citizenship behaviors. This leaves ample opportunity for continuing research for I-O, especially on the “I” side such as considerations for hiring, performance appraisal, and training just to name a few topics. Plus, given the broader implications of organizational democracy increasing equality and the general welfare of people, this should be a topic to further explore in the HWP realm as well.


In summary, organizational democracy would mean bringing our societal form of governing down to the organizational level. Though this seems like an odd and unusual form of running an organization this organizational structuring exists and there is evidence that it is effective. We in the I-O and HWP fields have only begun to explore this topic and much more research still needs to be done! If democracy is the key to participation and equality, then organizational democracy is the next logical step in our society.


Further readings


Weber, W. G., Unterrainer, C., & Hoge, T. (2008). Socio-moral atmosphere and prosocial and   democratic value orientations in enterprises with different levels of structurally anchored participation. German Journal of Research in Human Resource Management, 22, 171-194. doi:10.1177/239700220802200205


Wegge, J., Jeppesen, H., Weber, W., Pearce, C., Silva, S., Pundt, A., … Piecha, A. (2010). Promoting work motivation in organizations: Should employee involvement in organizational leadership become a new tool in the organizational psychologist’s kit? Journal of Personnel Psychology, 9, 154-171. doi:10.1027/1866-5888/a000025


The Sociological Quarterly Volume 57, Issue 1 (the whole issue is on democracy at work)


A link to Mondragon’s website


Call for SIOP Humanitarian Award Nominations!

Hello, GOHWP members!

SIOP has a call out for nominations for their Humanitarian Award. The GOHWP Executive Board wanted to make sure our members were aware of this, because the June 30 deadline is fast approaching.

SIOP’s Humanitarian Award is designed to recognize humanitarian contributions made by individuals who practice industrial-organizational/work psychology. From the SIOP website, the award can go to individuals for any of the following, or for other humanitarian-related applications of I-O/work psychology.

  1. Applying the practice and science of I-O psychology towards significant and sustained humanitarian initiatives, including the development of policy.
  2. Promoting prosocial I-O psychology through work with international non-governmental organizations and multilateral agencies, including the development of internal capacity in these organizations.
  3. Notable and sustained contributions to theory and/or practice in the area of humanitarian work psychology (deliberate and organized efforts to enhance human welfare and development).
  4. Significant impact on the field of I-O psychology through a focus on social responsibility and reduction of human suffering through organizational actions.
  5. Contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through I-O Psychology (e.g., poverty reduction, food security, health and well-being, equitable quality education, gender equality, sustainable energy, decent work, sustainable industrialization/innovation, inclusivity and justice within society, sustainable consumption/production, fighting climate change, creation of global partnerships for sustainable development).

The award does come with a cash prize, though in the spirit of the award, SIOP will instead make a donation of $1500 USD to the charity or foundation of the recipient’s choice, if the recipient so chooses.

Full details can be found on the SIOP web page, and we encourage our members to apply!

HWP in Graduate Research Methods

By Morrie Mullins


One of the things I’ve found is that there are really no boundaries for where HWP-related themes can fit in a graduate curriculum.  In this blog post, I’ll offer one example that came to me somewhat fortuitously as part of a broader lit review effort.


A year or so ago, an undergraduate student (who has gone on to be an I-O graduate student with a focus in HWP-related issues) was helping me with a lit review and stumbled across an article by Yao-Jen Chang, Rui-Hua Liao, Tsen-Yung Wang, and Yao-Sheng Chang titled, “Action research as a bridge between two worlds: Helping the NGOs and humanitarian agencies adapt technology to their needs.”  NGOs?  Humanitarian agencies?  And RESEARCH?  Sign me up!


It’s actually an interesting paper, dealing with how to incorporate various information systems in an NGO that “provides supported employment.”  The team involved in the project was highly interdisciplinary, including IT professionals, social scientists, and engineers, and used a set of techniques called “action research” to gather both quantitative and qualitative data about the domain being studied.


There is a LOT of detail in the article about their approach to the project, but a lot of it should sound familiar to anyone who’s ever had an I-O internship or done any consulting.  Their first stage involved diagnosing the problem using a series of interviews and focus groups, coming up with a preliminary set of findings, and designing an intervention.  They then moved on to another key stage of the research, where team members volunteered to go out and actually do some of the jobs they were studying, to get a sense of what the work was like.  Based on both the interview/focus group data and the direct observations made through working in the jobs being studied, the researchers came up with an action plan.  This derived from the needs and problems observed as the data were collected through various modalities.


One of the things that I find it’s important to keep in mind, when training graduate students on research methodology, is that there is a lot of “research design” that they’ve heard four or five times in the past.  I don’t have to go back over between- versus within-groups designs.  All those classic experimentalist designs are great and important, but most of the students I’m training are going out into the world to become practitioners, so they need other types of research skills.


What I LOVE about the “action research” article is that it puts research into the context of solving workplace problems – which is exactly what I-O/work psychology does, when it’s working well.  We are applied problem solvers, and we should be talking about methods that work well for approaching and resolving problems in the real world – not just in labs.  (Not that there’s anything involved in lab research, mind you.  All research has a place…)


Even in their second semester, my students see the way action research connects to what we do in I-O.  I generally hear comments like, “This sounds like some of what we did when we did job analyses” – which is exactly correct.  The way I was trained on job analysis involved a lot of detailed data-gathering and direct observation of workers on the job.  I didn’t get to step in and do their work like an action researcher would, but I was around them enough that I’d like to think I could have.**


Then you’ve got the HWP aspect, where we get to talk about NGOs and how to help them.  We get to talk about the importance of not assuming that you know what the job is like, and the willingness to get your (metaphorical and literal) hands dirty in order to really understand it.  We get to talk about how key it is to volunteer your time with non-profits if you want to get a sense of how they “live” their mission – because otherwise, you will have a hard time really understanding their problems.


The full citation for the article is below.  If you have other HWP-related papers you use to teach research methods, or really, any course, we’d love to hear about them!



Chang, Y.-J., Liao, R.-H., Wang, T.-Y., & Chang, Y.-S. (2010). Action research as a bridge between two worlds: Helping the NGOs and humanitarian agencies adapt technology to their needs.  Systemic Practice and Action Research, 23, 191-202. doi 10.1007/s11213-009-9154-8



** Yeah, I know.  I really couldn’t have.  I like my little delusions, though…


GOHWP-relevant Grant Opportunities!

The following were shared with GOHWP by Professor Stuart Carr, and we wanted to share them with you!

Future of work

Russell Sage Foundation, US

This supports innovative research on the causes and consequences of changes in the quality of jobs for less- and moderately-skilled workers and their families. Awards are worth up to USD 150,000 each over two years.

Maximum award: USD 150,000

Closing date: 20 Aug 18 (recurring)


Non-standard employment grant

Russell Sage Foundation, US

This supports innovative social science research on the causes and consequences of the increased incidence of alternative work arrangements in the US. Awards are worth up to USD 150,000 each over two years.

Maximum award: USD 150,000

Closing date: 20 Aug 18 (recurring)


Social inequality

Russell Sage Foundation, US

This supports research on the effects of economic inequality on social, political and economic institutions, and on equality of opportunity, social mobility and the intergenerational transmission of advantage. Grants are worth up to USD 150,000 per project, for a maximum of two years.

Maximum award: USD 150,000

Closing date: 20 Aug 18 (recurring)

Humanitarian Work Psychology and Occupational Health Psychology: Two sides of the same coin?

In case you missed it, here’s an interesting piece from out-going Vice Chair Shujaat Ahmed about the connection between HWP and OHP!  It originally appeared in our winter 2017 newsletter.

Humanitarian work psychology (HWP) focuses on improving human welfare in all countries irrespective of income, and is broadly applied for the greater good of all people. Some of the areas studied within HWP are humanitarian aid work, poverty reduction, diversity, and corporate social responsibility. On the other hand, occupational health psychology (OHP) is focused on understanding how social and psychological aspects of the workplace influence employees’ physical and mental health across jobs. Scientists and practitioners within OHP examine individual and organizational interventions in an attempt to create healthier workplaces, while protecting the safety and health of employees. Some of the areas studied within this field include work stress, work-family interface, disease prevention, and workplace safety.

Humanitarian work psychology and OHP are related in a number of ways. For one, both fields are interdisciplinary. HWP is inclusive of knowledge and methods from psychology, occupational health, organizational behavior, and economics to name a few. Similarly, OHP draws from a variety of disciplines such as psychology, occupational health, organizational behavior, and human factors. Both fields also emphasize the improvement of health of individuals by expanding on the traditional sphere of their respective fields using research-based evidence. The divide between the two fields has shrunk even more in recent years as OHP, which has been traditionally been known to help for-profit organizations, has begun to include non-profit organizations and low income workers as regular stakeholders in both research and practice.

Two examples in recent research of the amalgamation of HWP and OHP are worth mentioning. Ager, Pasha, Yu, Duke, Eriksson, and Cardozo (2012) examine the stress and well-being of national humanitarian aid workers in Uganda. Based on cross-sectional data, they found that aid workers who report high exposure to stress are significantly more likely to report diminished mental health outcomes. These aid workers were especially vulnerable to mental health consequences with over 68 percent showing signs of clinical depression and 53 percent at higher risk for anxiety disorders. Gender also seems to plays a role, with female aid workers reporting more symptoms of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and emotional exhaustion than their male counterparts. The authors expand the connection of OHP-HWP research by focusing on the consequences (depression, anxiety, burnout, PTSD) of humanitarian work among national aid workers which has received less attention compared to international expatriate workers.

More recently, in 2015, Mahima Saxena and John Scott obtained a grant from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) for their project that explores work experiences of South Asian workers in the informal economy for the promotion of decent work and well-being. Informal economy may be defined as employment or economic activities that take place outside of, or that is external to government observation, taxation and regulation. Examples of informal work include laborers in agriculture, as well as nonagricultural work such as pottery, weaving, and manufacturing. Mahima and John have been investigating how informal workers conceptualize work, any hindrances they may face, and what their subjective health and well-being experiences are. This study makes an important contribution to SIOP’s United Nation’s initiative and also to the further connection of HWP and OHP research by promoting social justice, decent work, and well-being of informal workers.

While many psychologists consider the fields of HWP and OHP as distinct from one another, the main goals of each field complement each other greatly. Indeed, they can be thought of as two sides of one coin geared toward the promotion of health!




Further Readings

Ager, A., Pasha, E., Yu, G., Duke, T., Eriksson, C., & Cardozo, B. L. (2012). Stress, mental health, and burnout in national humanitarian aid workers in Gulu, Northern Uganda. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 25(6), 713-720.

Chang, C. H., & Spector, P. (2011). Cross-cultural occupational health psychology. In J. C. Quick & L. E. Tetrick (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 119-137). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Vergara, J. A., & Gardner, D. (2011). Stressors and psychological wellbeing in local humanitarian workers in Colombia. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 26(6), 500 – 507.



We Congratulate Our HWP Colleague, Leo Marai!

GOHWP is delighted to announce that Leo Marai, one of our earliest members and a seasoned professional in humanitarian work psychology, has recently obtained his PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology in the School of Business & Public Policy at the University of Papua New Guinea in Papua New Guinea. Leo’s dissertation is titled: “Dual Salaries in Papua New Guinea: Exploring their Links to Perceived Justice, Motivation and Wellbeing.” He was supervised by Professor David Kavanamur of School of Business & Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea, and Professor Stuart Carr from School of Psychology, Massey University in New Zealand. One of his thesis external examiners was Professor Adrian Furnham of University College London.

With Leo’s permission, we are including a brief form of the abstract of his dissertation below.  Interested readers can reach out to him at leomarai – at – yahoo – dot – com for a copy of the full document.

The present study explored the concept and practice of dual salaries in Papua New Guinea, where local workers are remunerated less than international workers despite often performing identical jobs and having equivalent human capital. The “double de-motivation” hypothesis predicts that dual salaries will de-motivate both locally- and internationally-remunerated skilled employees, but the hypothesis has never been fully explored in the context of Papua New Guinea before. In particular, possible mediators and moderators of the linkage between remuneration type and de-motivation, such as the perceived justice and occupational propinquity (defined as psychological proximity) among workers on the job, along with other outcomes such as health and wellbeing, remain unknown.

The thesis concludes by presenting a new model of dual salaries. It adds to existing knowledge by revealing (a) that remuneration type (local, international) predicted injustice, de-motivation and mobility intentions among local workers; and also double de-motivation among international and locally-remunerated workers in a new country context; (b) that de-motivation mediated between remuneration type and justice; (c) that remuneration type predicted negative wellbeing; (d) that negative wellbeing mediated between remuneration type and de-motivation more than following from de-motivation; and (e) that occupational propinquity added separately and directly to injustice and de-motivation.

We congratulate Leo and applaud his work on dual-salary systems, one of the critical issues in the field. We are sure that this marks the beginning of many more years for him of productive research and practice in HWP.

HWP, I-O, and Religious Organizations

By Morrie Mullins, GOHWP Board Member


So I had an interesting, if brief, conversation with a friend I’ve known since graduate school.  He was talking about the work he does with his church, and with other churches, in applying I-O principles and practices to improving how the churches run.

To me, this is fantastic!  I love seeing organizations benefit from what we learn and do, and religious organizations are no less prone to recruitment, staffing, training, retention, satisfaction, motivation, change management, and other kinds of core work/I-O psychology issues than any other organization.  So I asked him whether he’d thought about connecting with GOHWP about the work he’s been doing, and his response kind of floored me.

“Yeah, I thought about it – but I didn’t think they’d be open to it.”

Like I said: Kind of floored.

To me, this seems like one of the most natural connections that could be made.  HWP wants to support the application of work psychology to humanitarian organizations and organizations that support humanitarian causes, and to understand the psychology of those organizations and the individuals who work with them.  (You know – both H-WP and HW-P!)  Religious organizations do all of that.  They do outreach within and around their communities.  They engage in charitable work.  They organize to help people when tragedy strikes.  They work for the greater good.

It just seems natural that this is an area where I-O/work psychology ought to be applied, and indeed, it IS being applied in this context.  So hearing the perception that GOHWP might not be open to supporting and sharing the work that’s being done applying best practices from the research and applied literatures to religious organizations made me feel as if we’re really missing something important.

And it made me wonder, “Well, why?”

There’s nothing I’ve seen in our materials, our charter, or anywhere else that would make me feel as if we’re excluding anyone.  Certainly, it’s never been my intent, or as far as I know, the intent of anyone on our Board!

There is a lot that we can learn from religious organizations, given how extensive their work with humanitarian causes is and has been, and I’d like to think that there’s a lot they can learn from us as well.  Are there barriers?  And if so, what are those barriers?  How can we make GOHWP feel more welcoming and inclusive to ALL organizations engaged in humanitarian work and supporting humanitarian causes?  How do we find our seat at the proverbial table?

We’d love to hear your thoughts about what the barriers might be, and how we can overcome them to help these organizations, that are such a key part of so many lives!

The Slack-tivism Debate

By: Laura Sywulak

Within the last five years, the use of social media as a tool for activism has exploded. Organizations are increasingly engaging with users online creating opportunities to reach large numbers of people who can donate money, sign petitions, write letters of support, and engage in other campaign activities with just a few clicks of the mouse. However, many consider these acts of online activism to be token displays of support that do more to make people feel good than to meaningfully further prosocial causes. It has added a major new element to the debate over “slacktivism”, defined as fairly effortless shows of support – typically public – that may make people feel like they are making a difference but don’t necessarily lead to much impact. Slacktivism includes activities like joining a cause’s Facebook group, wearing a specific color on a certain day, signing an online petition, or writing an email to a political representative. As organizations increasingly use social media as a campaign tool, the opportunities for slacktivism are seemingly endless. Critics of slacktivism worry that by engaging in these low-cost, low impact activities, people will feel they have done their part, discouraging them from engaging in more meaningful action.

There has been some initial research on whether this is true. In their paper, Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism?: The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism.”, Lee & Hsieh found that signing an online petition increased the likelihood of donating money, but not the amount and while engaging in slacktivism increased the likelihood of performing a congruent subsequent civic action, the effect is limited to actions that are also relatively low-cost. Signing a petition did not increase or decrease participants’ intentions to participate in subsequent high cost actions such as attending protests; it only increased intentions to sign future petitions and write letters.

Another concern is that groups that have many followers or members may suffer from a donation ‘bystander effect’ wherein members do not donate based on the assumption that others will. Kevin Lewis, professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, and two other researchers, analyzed the recruitment and donation activity of the “Save Darfur” Facebook page at the height of its campaign. Analyzing donation data over a a 2.5 year period showed that even though the group had over 1 million members, 99.7 percent never donated anything. The researchers concluded that signing up for the group may have offered enough in terms of reputational benefits that members did not feel compelled to take further action. That said the campaign still raised over $90,000.

So when does slacktivism lead to activism? Reseach by Kristofferson, White and Peloza (2014) used a series of field and laboratory experiments to understand when those who engage in slacktivism engage more deeply. They found the determining factor to be the extent to which a slacktivist’s activism is public or private. Those whose initial act of support is done more privately (for example, writing to a member of Congress) are more likely to engage in deeper, more costly forms of engagement later on. Those whose initial support is public (i.e. posting to Facebook or Twitter) are less likely to engage more deeply. Moreover, the researchers find that most appeals for token engagement “promote slacktivism among all but those highly connected to the cause.”

But how do online slacktivists compare to those who don’t engage in online activism at all? In a report by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Worldwide researchers surveyed and compared social media activists to people who do not promote causes via social media. They found slacktivists are just as likely to donate money and more likely to volunteer their time compared to those who do not even engage in online forms of slacktivism. These data suggest slacktivists are willing to engage in more impactful activism and provide an argument against the point that slacktivism discourages more effortful acts of support.

Social media inarguably provides a broad range of new options for promoting and supporting causes. And while some initial data seems to indicate that slacktivism does not often lead to more impactful activist activities, it doesn’t seem to hurt and it’s better than doing nothing.

What do you think about the slacktivism debate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @gohwp #slacktivism

An introduction to Project FAIR

What is Project FAIR and where did it come from?

by Ishbel McWha-Hermann

GOHWP board member Morrie Mullins approached me after the recent SIOP conference in Orlando to see if I would be interested in sharing some details of Project FAIR with the GOHWP membership, as an example of an HWP-related study that is being undertaken. FAIR stands for Fairness in Aid Remuneration and the project explores the ways international NGOs are structuring their reward systems in an effort to balance the desire to reward local and expatriate employees equitably with the need to attract and retain skilled employees.

The project developed from previous research which looked at the impact of dual salary systems (where national and international workers receive vastly different reward packages) on motivation and performance of both groups of employees. The previous study was carried out across six lower and middle-income countries, and the results largely suggested that disparities in pay and benefits had a negative impact on employees, particularly local employees who tend to receive much smaller packages (see Carr, McWha, MacLachlan & Furnham, 2010, for more details). In 2014 we held a workshop in London to share the results of the project with HR and reward managers from many international NGOs, and overwhelmingly they agreed that the results made intuitive sense, but what they wanted to know was what they should do to address them. Project FAIR was a first step along the path to helping figure out the answer to that question. We interviewed 18 HR and reward managers from 13 international NGOs of varying size and scope, and developed some insights into the different approaches to reward that are being undertaken, as organisations try to find ways to make their reward systems fairer. A full report on the project findings is available on the website

Project FAIR speaks to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular it clearly links to SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), which includes the sub-goal of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’. The momentum behind Project FAIR reflects the current situation in which many international NGOs (as well as other actors within the aid and development sector more broadly) recognise that while they are clearly promoting the SDGs externally through their projects and activities, they also need to look internally to their own policies and practices to ensure they are meeting the SDGs in the ways they operate. Project FAIR is just one example of the great potential I-O psychologists have to contribute to many of the SDGs through the work that we do, be it looking at fair working conditions, equality and inclusion, wellbeing, gender, justice, or much more.

Project FAIR is an ESRC-funded international collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, CHS Alliance, Birches Group and Massey University.