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Stumbling Toward a Social Psychology of Organizations: An Autobiographical Look at the Direction of Organizational Research

Abstract

I recount some of my early experiences in the field and how they shaped my views about conducting research. As I describe it, my entry into organizational behavior was not at all seamless, requiring a series of adjustments along the way. Like many of my colleagues who had moved into the field of organizational behavior, I had to find a source of valued added a new perspective or set of alternative ideas to contribute to the field. This process of adjustment, I fear, is no longer so prevalent in the field today. Although many social psychologists have migrated to business schools, they are still by and large doing social psychological rather than organizational research. They often extend social psychological theories to the business context, but they rarely seek to reframe and reformulate core organizational issues and problems. For this to change, I argue that future research needs to become more contextual and phenomenon-driven. My hope is that, with the recent upsurge in talent entering the field, we can find a way to harvest more of its creativity, moving from the application of social psychology to a genuine social psychology of organizations.

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