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In recent years, one of the major changes in industrial–organizational (I–O) psychology has been the increasingly global nature of our work. Many I–O psychologists work for multinational organizations or international consulting firms and, as part of their work, they collaborate with other I–O psychologists, HR professionals, and business leaders around the world. Boutique consulting firms and I–O psychologists in independent practice are also working with clients outside the United States more than ever before. Given this development, there is a clear need for graduate education and training to include exposure to the global practice of I–O psychology.

Context matters in the identification of competencies required to practice I–O psychology globally. Cultural context requires knowledge of varying interpersonal norms and business practices, and the skill to act appropriately across cultures. Professional context requires knowledge of national and international standards and norms for I–O practice. Legal context requires knowledge of national and international laws that regulate the work we do for our clients.

The SIOP Guidelines were initially created within a professional context that assumed that I–O psychologists worked primarily in the United States. What should change to reflect the increasingly global practice of I–O psychology? Research and other information and resources suggest that academicians and practitioners are aware of the importance of the culture context. There appears, however, to be less awareness of or interest in the professional and legal contexts relative to the global practice of psychology. The following discussion, therefore, emphasizes those two contexts.

The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Professional Context

  1. Top of page
  2. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Professional Context
  3. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Legal Context
  4. Conclusions
  5. References

Just as Byrne et al. (2014) suggest examining the relevance of competencies described in the SIOP Guidelines, there is a movement in the global psychological community to develop a set of competencies for applied psychologists. Possible benefits to such global competencies include increased mobility across international borders, enhancing the visibility and branding of applied psychology worldwide, and helping to unite the profession.

The fifth International Congress on Licensure, Certification, and Credentialing for Psychologists took place in Stockholm in July 2013. Seventy-five (75) representatives from various international psychological, licensure, certification, and credentialing associations in 18 countries attended the Congress. A partial list of U.S.-based associations represented at the Congress includes the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), and SIOP. Some international associations participating in the Congress were the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations (EFPA), the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), and the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS).

The primary purpose of the Congress was to begin to identify competencies required for the practice of psychology worldwide. The goal of the Congress was to generate information that would be used as the foundation for the development of a set of global competencies for applied psychologists. There appeared to be consensus on the following list of general areas that could form the foundation for the development of a global set of competencies for applied psychologists1:

  1. Knowledge (e.g., fields of psychology, history and systems of psychology, attitude change, individual differences)
  2. Ethics and legal (e.g., employment laws, professional standards, licensure laws)
  3. Professional practice (e.g., assessment, consulting)
  4. Relationships (e.g., group facilitation, interpersonal skills)
  5. Professionalism (e.g., attitudes, conduct)
  6. Cultural diversity (e.g., countries, regions, demographic groups)

It appears that most of these areas, except for “relationships,” align fairly well with the competencies described in the SIOP Guidelines. Interestingly, Byrne et al. noted that graduate education and training of I–O psychologists needs to include knowledge and skills related to building and sustaining effective relationships with individuals and groups.

Congress participants noted the following areas that need further discussion and clarification relative to a global competency model for applied psychologists:

  1. Identification of the specific knowledge requirements.
  2. Determination of the role that science will play in the global competency model.
  3. Consideration of the inclusion of such areas as the business of practice, technology, supervision, program evaluation, self-care, and advocacy as it relates to the recipients of psychological services and the profession.

Future discussions and feedback from associations represented at the Congress and other key stakeholder groups will determine how these issues are addressed in the final set of competencies for applied psychologists.

One may agree or disagree with the some or all of the outcomes of the Congress. It is important to keep in mind that this information is an initial pass at a competency model for applied psychologists worldwide. Plans regarding next steps for this effort are being discussed, and several of the organizations represented at the Congress are supporting the continuation of this work (e.g., APA, ASPPB, EFPA, IAAP).

In keeping with the Byrne et al. eye on the future, SIOP needs to consider international developments in I–O psychology, and psychology in general, when making decisions about the competencies required for I–O psychologists and graduate education and training.

The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Legal Context

  1. Top of page
  2. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Professional Context
  3. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Legal Context
  4. Conclusions
  5. References

One of the core competencies in the current SIOP Guidelines is “ethical, legal, and professional contexts of I–O psychology.” Given the global nature of our work, I–O psychologists need to have specific knowledge of the regulatory standards and laws of the country or countries in which they practice.

The International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) standard related to the delivery of assessment services is one such regulation. According to N. Tippins (personal communication, June 2013), ISO 10667, Assessment Service Delivery: Procedures and Methods to Assess People in Work Organizational Settings, has two parts. One part focuses on the responsibilities of the assessment service provider and the other part describes the responsibilities of the client. At this point, it is still unclear how this standard will affect the work of I–O psychologists in the United States. Outside the United States, however, several countries, including Sweden and the UK, have developed a certification process and are in the process of certifying assessment service providers (N. Tippins, personal communication, June 2013). One may speculate that this standard will impact practice in the United States if multinationals whose parent company is outside the United States want to employ psychologists in the United States.

Beyond ISO 10667, there are national and international laws that regulate the practice of psychology, including I–O psychology. On the basis of my experience, graduate education and training has historically focused on laws and standards that were U.S.-based and client-focused (e.g., EEOC Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, SIOP's Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures, and the Joint Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing). As a result, it seems that I and others have spent much more time focused on ensuring that our clients are complying with laws that regulate their actions related to employment practices than we have on ensuring that we, as psychologists, are complying with laws that regulate our actions relative to the practice of psychology. Regardless of one's views on licensure, national and international laws regulating the practice of psychology exist. It seems to me that it would be wise to educate students about such laws so that they can make better decisions, during and after graduate school, relative to such laws.

In the “ethical, legal, and professional contexts of I–O psychology” competency in the SIOP Guidelines, there is no mention of laws and standards that regulate the practice of psychology. Personally, I heard nothing about licensing laws regarding psychology in graduate school. As my career progressed, I came to know that licensure was a contentious topic in SIOP and that SIOP's position was that I–O psychologists should be allowed to be licensed if they so desire. I was well into my career before I learned that in many states, it was illegal for me to call myself a psychologist or to practice certain activities for which I had been trained. Results from the SIOP membership survey (2011) suggest that graduate students may have a similar experience. The percentage of students indicating that they had little or no knowledge of licensing laws for psychologists was 70%. The percentage of students that strongly agreed or agreed with the item, “Having the opportunity to be licensed as an I–O psychologist is important to me,” was 48%.

Interestingly, outside the United States, the work and organizational psychologists often advocate for and are more involved in the regulation of psychology and the use of psychological tools (e.g., assessment; S. DeMers, personal communication, March 2013). One example of the difference between U.S.-based I–O psychologists and non-U.S. based I–O psychologists comes from the SIOP (2011) membership survey. The percentage of SIOP members who indicated they had little or no knowledge of U.S.-based licensure laws was 57%. In contrast, the percentage of SIOP International Affiliate members who indicated that they had little or no knowledge about U.S.-based licensures laws was 32%. One possible reason for the difference between these two groups is that there is a greater focus on licensure, certification, or credentialing in other countries so SIOP international affiliate members are more likely to know about such laws in other countries, including the United States.

Knowledge of laws related to the practice of psychology, both inside and outside the United States, is important. Knowledge of U.S.-based licensure laws and issues helps graduate students make informed choices about coursework and training that will affect their ability to be licensed. After graduate school, such knowledge helps psychologists make informed choices about compliance with U.S.-based licensing laws. Knowledge of international laws that regulate the practice of psychology can help students better understand the similarities and differences in education, training, and experiences between U.S.-based and non-U.S. based I–O psychologists. This knowledge can also help to improve students' interactions, after graduate school, with international colleagues.

Conclusions

  1. Top of page
  2. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Professional Context
  3. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Legal Context
  4. Conclusions
  5. References

The contexts in which I–O psychologists operate are broader and more complex than when the SIOP Guidelines were originally created. Thus, competence in functioning in cultural, professional, and legal contexts throughout the world is increasingly important for graduate education. Byrne et al. suggest several ideas, including extending competencies and certified internships, for further enhancing the quality of I–O graduate education and training. Such ideas require that diverse groups, inside and outside the profession, come together for the purpose of improving graduate education and, ultimately, for the purpose of strengthening the quality, impact, and long-term viability of our profession. I hope we will seize this opportunity.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Professional Context
  3. The Global Practice of I–O Psychology: Legal Context
  4. Conclusions
  5. References
  1. 1

    I represented SIOP and the Society for Consulting Psychology at the 5th International Congress on Licensure, Certification, and Credentialing for Psychologists. The information presented in this article are based on my notes from the closing session of the Congress. An official report of the outcomes of the Congress is expected in the fall of 2013.