President’s Report on the years 2002 – 2004

 

To the IAAP BOD, meeting August 13/14 2004

By Michael Frese, President

 

 

 

The International Association of Applied Psychology has had a two year period of high activities, growth in membership, and consolidation in finances. During the last two years our association has done a lot to advance the function of the divisions, to increase our presence internationally, particularly in the United Nations system, and in advancing important issues, particularly in the area of policy orientation. I think of IAAP as a particularly important association to overcome mindless parochialism, to establish important networks of scholars around the world, and to be a voice for the function of applied psychology in the world.

 

It is now the midpoint of my presidency and this makes it useful to take stock and to report what IAAP has done. I hasten to add that IAAP wouldn’t be where it is without the activity of the other officers (Jose Maria Prieto, Mike Knowles, and Charles Spielberger, and particularly Ray Fowler, who has shouldered an enormous amount of important activities), the Board of Directors members (including the Presidents of the Divisions), the various members, who have taken up the task to participate in standing committees and ad-hoc committees, and the two representatives (Judy Kuriansky and Moshe Banai) from New York City, who have been active in the United Nations. We are also very grateful that Elizabeth Nair has taken over the Newsletter and has done an extremely good job in publishing it. Let me also say, how much the officers appreciated the enormous activities that already went into the preparation of our Athens conference in two years (July 16-21, 2006; particular thanks are due to James Georgas, Marina Manthouli, Anastasia Efklides and Thales Papadakis, Elias Besevegis and Vaso Boukouvala, the committee members of Greek psychologists, and the liaison scholars from our divisions). It is impossible to thank all of the many people, who are participating in this endeavour and who will make the congress in Athens very successful and will make it one of the most significant scientific international events. We want this congress to be the most important congress since the inception of IAAP in the year 1920.

 

The two most important events for IAAP of the last two years are the facts that we became a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the United Nations (Department of Public Information) and that we now have an active and important Student Division. Moreover, IAAP has organized several membership drives that led to a significant increase in the number of members. However, we are still a small organization and really we shouldn’t be. In these days and age in which research should be based on international cooperation and in which international relations are so important, it is somewhat ridiculous that IAAP is not five or six times bigger than it is at the moment. I think we all have to work together to transform this highly influential but small elite organization into a highly influential, but much bigger organization over the course of the next years. I am surprised again and again, how often people tell me that they would love to be members of the association, but have never been asked. It is particularly important that each member asks potential Ph.D.-students to become members of the association. We have reduced the membership dues for the students tremendously but their membership helps to keep us viable. I hope, our student group continues to grow (the number of students quadrupled within the last two year in which we inaugurated a Student Division, very ably led by Pedro Neves).

 

When I became President, I advanced eight important goals (IAAP Newsletter, Volume 15, Issue 1). I want to organize my report along the lines of these 8 goals:

 

1)        Every division should be a true network of likeminded researchers, scholars, and students

 

We have been very lucky with the support from the Divisional Presidents of most divisions. A particularly good example of an active division is Division 1 (Organizational Psychology, with its very able president Virginia Schein). Division 1 had a very specific and very clear plan of action for the period 2002-2006. It has developed a Division 1 Newsletter, produced a membership survey, developed a Leader-Links Program, stimulated scientific discussions, facilitated publishing in scientific journals via workshops, hosted round-table sessions at SIOP and EAWOP conferences and subsidized annual dues for tenure members from developing countries. Other divisions (notably Division 7 – Applied Gerontology,  Division 8 – Health Psychology, Division  9 – Economic Psychology, Division 12 – Sport Psychology, and Division 13 – Traffic Psychology) have recruited prominent members, have held and co-organized conferences with other organizations and produced workshops (notably Division 6 – Clinical and Community Psychology, Division 7 – Applied Gerontology, Division 8 – Health Psychology, Division 11 – Political Psychology, Division 13 – Traffic Psychology). It was just delightful to see the amount of activities. Sadly, we also lost one prominent and active president, due to sudden and unexpected death; Professor Paul Pintrich passed away on July 12, 2003,  and we hold him in dear memory.

 

 

2)        Small divisions should be supported and encouraged to get more members. Non-active divisions should be encouraged to become more active

 

There is no clear correlation between the activity of a division and its size. As a matter of fact, the Division of Economic Psychology, the Division of Sport Psychology, and the Division of Counselling Psychology of Divisions have been very active although they are small. The officers have attempted to encourage all divisions to become more active. Unfortunately, some (very few) divisions did not react to repeated pleas by the president to develop a plan of action and to follow it through.

 

 

3) Make applied psychology more policy oriented

 

Making applied psychology more policy oriented is one of the most important activities during my presidency and some of the subcommittees on policy orientation have been very active. Some other ones have not yet been active enough but I am sure they will all produce Memoranda by the time of the conference in Athens 2006. John Berry and I have called into being a set of subgroups:

 

Human capital (headed by: Milton Hakel, USA)

Stress and health (headed by: Stevan Hobfoll, USA)

Immigration (headed by: John Berry and David Sam, Norway)

AIDS/HIV prevention (headed by: Susan Pick, Mexico)

Unemployment (headed by: Thomas Kieselbach, Germany)

Indigenous people (headed by: Linda Waimare Nikora, New Zealand and John Berry)

Role of women (headed by: Florence Denmark, USA)

Ethnopolitical violence (headed by: Clark McCauley, USA)

Quality of life (headed by: Juan Sanchez-Sosa, Mexico)

Active ageing (headed by: Rocio Fernandez-Ballesteros, Spain)

Environmental psychology (headed by: David Canter, UK, and Mirilia Bonnes, Italy)

Entrepreneurship (headed by: Michael Frese, Germany)

 

These subgroups will report some results of their work in a double symposium headed by John Berry at the Beijing conference and we hope that all of these subgroups will report substantial advance on their activities at the ICAP in Athens 2006.

 

It cannot be emphasized enough: Psychology has tended to stay away from policy implications. We have allowed other disciplines (such as medicine, sociology, and economics to give recommendations on issues that are uniquely psychological). It is surprising that psychology has not dominated the debate on racism, the debate on poverty reduction, on ethnopolitical violence, on the ageing society, and on changing structure of qualifications for work, etc. We hope to make it a hallmark of IAAP to change this tradition and to make applied psychology a fertile producer of policy recommendations to international associations, to national societies, to companies and labor unions, to law makers, and to other relevant bodies of public and company policy. I think it is time that we drastically enhance and increase policy oriented activities by international scholars of applied psychology.

 

 

4) Increase of IAAP activities in developing countries

 

Increasing IAAP activities in developing countries, is obviously an issue of highest importance. As usual, IAAP is supporting and organizing regional conferences, the ARTS, and other activities. We have supported the organization of the regional conferences in Dubai in 2003 (primarily responsible for this regional conference was IUPsys), and I was lucky enough to get Professor Ubolwanna Pavakanun from Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand to volunteer to organize a regional conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in the year 2005 (we will determine the exact date within a month). Regional conferences are a good way to build capacity and to develop regional competence and regional cooperation and IAAP is very proud of its participation in these endeavours.

 

We have also attempted to increase the number of workshops that IAAP members hold. I personally have given workshops in Thailand and Mexico, and Susan Pick has taken over the organization of a number of IAAP-sponsored workshops in Mexico and Latin America. One was given by Susan Pick herself, another one by Ype Poortinga; a third one is planned. Both workshops that took place already were very successful. While regional workshops of this type may not be the only avenue, they increase the visibility of IAAP, and they make it possible to improve the competence of students, who are participating. They are in keeping with our mission to make it possible  to produce well-functioning networks of scientists and students. We hope that we can increase this tradition.

 

Our Action 100 (brought about by Bernhard Wilpert many years ago) is another avenue through which we are active in developing countries. Action 100 implies that libraries in developing countries get our journal free of charge. While there are a number of such free subscriptions, there is still space for additional free subscriptions if you know a library that could use our flagship journal Applied Psychology: An International Review (edited very ably by Robert Wood, Australia).

 

 

5) Develop a Student Division

 

The BOD in 2002 agreed to found a Student Division and Pedro Neves (University of Lisbon, Portugal) agreed to work as president of this division. The first wave of students joined the student division at the conference in Singapore itself and then several waves of students joined so that the student division is now one of the bigger divisions and that we were able to quadruple the number of students in our association. Ray Fowler was particularly important in making a big drive to increase the number of students from the ranks of the APA Graduate Students Association. Many IAAP members have been enthusiastic of getting their graduate students to join IAAP. We have drastically reduced the price for student members to 10$ in the first year. Although we make a loss on each student (because the journal costs us 20$ per member), we are proud to have a very fast-growing and very active student division in our midst.

 

 

6) Working with the United Nations system

 

It was not easy and at certain points it looked like we would fail: However, in the end we were successful and now have the NGO status with the DPI (Department of Publication Information) at the United Nations. We were lucky to get two representatives in New York City, who follow up United Nations activities: Judy Kuriansky (e-mail: DrJudyK@aol.com) and Moshe Banai (e-mail: moshe_Banai@baruch.cuny.edu). They have been extremely active and have very quickly become important participants in the United Nations system. We have also been fortunate to have very good relations with the United Nations representatives of IUPsyS, Division 52 of APA, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, as well as ICP (International Council of  Psychologists). We think it is very important to raise the level of awareness on psychological issues and on psychological knowledge within the United Nations system and we are well aware that we have to do this together with other organizations and NGOs.

 

Of course, we continue to be further aligned with the International Social Science Council (which is associated with the UNESCO).

 

 

7) Professionalize the work of IAAP

 

In all, IAAP has become a faster, and more quickly moving organization, mainly because of the enormous ease of decision-making within the officers and because of the extremely valuable activities of my personal assistant in Giessen, Heike Clasen. I am particularly happy to report that the officers have had continuous e-mail contacts (often daily, most of the time weekly and at least once or twice a month) to deal with issues and to make decisions. José Prieto has helped us to master the internet and this has proven to be extremely useful in our work with each other; the spirit of collaboration has been very positive.

 

 

8) Membership Drives

 

One of the more important goals that I had was to increase the members of IAAP. While most general-purpose organizations loose members, IAAP is gaining members, albeit not as quickly as I would like it to be.

 

We did the following membership drives:

 

a)     We sent out letters to all non-members who participated at ICAP Singapore.

b)     We sent out letters to lapsed members, who had not renewed their membership in 2000, 2001, 2002 or 2003

c)     We asked the Divisional Presidents to write to 30 prominent people active in the field and ask them to become members of IAAP.

d)     When I sent out a letter to all members of IAAP at the end of last year (which I will do more regularly in the future), I have asked the members to recruit an additional member within their faculty.

e)     We sent letters to past authors of  Applied Psychology: An International Review of the last five years, who are not yet members, asking them to become members.

f)      We sent letters to Austrian psychologists so that we should increase the membership in Austria.

g)     In addition, I personally recruited many members on my meetings and travels with psychologists around the world.

 

9) International Associations

 

We continue an excellent and extremely fruitful cooperation with our partner organization IUPsyS. I have maintained regular contacts with Michel Denis, the President, and exchanged information via email and face to face. We also have worked together taking care of the International Forum of International Associations of Psychology. In a similar vein Ray Folwer and Michel Sabourin, as treasurers,  have exchanged information and names for specific activities backed together, such as regional meetings, ARTS and the credentialing psychologists across countries in an International meeting held in Montreal. Also J.M. Prieto as SG and Pierre Ritchie have exchanged information and contacts to facilitate specific actions regarding 28ICP. Mike Knowles, president elect, also has maintained regular contacts with Michel Sabourin before and during the Regional Congress held in Dubai. A climate of friendly interactions prevails. Several BOD members are also EC members of IUPsyS or delegates to the IUPsyS Assembly and in this way bilateral communications move in both directions.

 

We have renewed contacts to other associations, like the International Council of Psychologists (ICP) and we shall deepen our already excellent relationships with IACCP during the 28ICP.  The president has been invited to participate in our BOD meeting as observer.

 

Additional activities

 

Charles Spielberger has worked very energetically on the Encyclopedia for Applied Psychology that is an IAAP endeavour and which increases the returns to IAAP.

 

In the same spirit I have asked Blackwell to initiate a series of International Handbooks of Applied Psychology. We shall start to appoint editors for the first few handbooks that will start the series. We envision that we will have 10+ handbooks within the next 6-7 years. The Handbook series is in cooperation with Blackwell, but the series belongs to IAAP and thus is an IAAP activity. We hope to make this a definitive series of handbooks that stand out, both in terms of their international approach as well as in terms of their scientific Excellency.

 

There are so many other activities. We were given the task by the General Assembly in 2002 to rework the constitution and Ray Fowler and Mike Knowles have done that very effectively. Ray Fowler and Charles Spielberger have developed a set of guidelines for determining the new membership category of Fellows in our association.

 

Thus, we think that our association has done quite well, but I think we can do much better and that, given the importance of IAAP, we should also do much better. We should do more to educate society about the function and importance of applied psychology, and we should do more to help deal with societal, educational, and company problems. We should also grow to be able to distribute the load of activities on more shoulders and to be available and significantly present in more countries. We should also lure more scholars into our association so that scientists are naturally international in their outlook. We should showcase more best practice examples for good applied psychology. We should be proud of our contributions that we already make and transmit this pride to our students. We should include ourselves in more significant debates nationally and internationally. We should use our methodological knowledge to produce better and cumulative knowledge for areas of importance. We should do research in applied psychology areas that are of future importance, etc., etc. I hope that you, the members of IAAP and the BOD members, will help the association to shoulder the many things that we in principle can and should be doing.

 

 

Michael Frese (President of the International Association of Applied Psychology)