Bringing New Ideas to Light: Personnel Research at General Electric in the 1960s and 1970s

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This study explores the impact of personnel research conducted at General Electric in the 1960s and 1970s. This personnel research group at General Electric was originally called the Behavioral Research Service (BRS) by its founder, famed industrial/organizational (i/o) psychologist Herbert Meyer. The research completed at General Electric remains influential today. Herbert Meyer’s research into performance appraisal suggested a more collaborative relationship between supervisor and employee, foreshadowing coaching literature that followed soon after. J. Stacy Adams developed equity theory, which directly impacts the study of organizational justice today. Mel Sorcher adapted Bandura’s social learning theory, and conducted one of the first applications of behavioral role modeling for training supervisors. The personnel research function at General Electric was an important place for the history of applied research in i/o psychology.

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