For four decades, Terry College of Business management professor Robert Vandenberg has found new ways to accurately assess the attitudes, feelings and behaviors that employees experience in the workplace.
Vandenberg, who serves as head of the Department of Management and the Robert O. Arnold Professor of Business, was recently inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Management.
“Bob’s work has laid the groundwork for organizational behavior and health care researchers to better understand how employees relate to their employers,” said Mike Pfarrer, associate dean for research and graduate programs at the Terry College of Business. “In addition, Bob is an internationally recognized methodologist, making his research accessible across disciplines.”
“His induction into the Academy of Management Fellows Group not only shines a light on the far-reaching impact of his work but also on the quality of research being conducted every day at the Terry College of Business.”
Induction as an AOM Fellow distinguishes those who have made enduring contributions to the science and practice of management. Vandenberg has spent his career using an organizational behavior lens to investigate what impacts employee motivation and dedication to an organization and how workers’ attitudes towards their employers impact productivity. Over time, his work has been cited by other scholars more than 20,000 times.
In the 1990s, Vandenberg started investigating the barriers that emerge when researchers try to compare workers from different cultures. Cultural norms and biases of the researchers can be a concern, but Vandenberg also looked at the cultural norms of the people being studied.
People from different cultures often interpret survey questions differently, he found. Researchers needed to account for this phenomenon, which came to be known as measurement invariance, in their analyses.
The culmination of this work was a seminal paper published in 2000 in the journal Organizational Research Methods, which set out the best practices and tactics for management researchers to correct for measurement invariance in their work. Ever since, the paper has provided part of the bedrock for the methodology now used by social scientists to account for differences in cultural attitudes in survey data. It’s been cited by more than 6,000 researchers as a guide for undertaking their own studies.
Vandenberg also introduced new methods of statistical analysis and better ways to measure change in employee’s attitudes and performance over time. He has extensively studied workplace health and safety, high-involvement work practices and employee commitment, and his research methods have contributed to more than $12 million in grant funding for studies into various management topics.
“Bob has emerged as one of the leading experts on research methods in the entire field of management,” Herman Aguinis wrote in his nomination of Vandenberg. Aguinis is the Avram Tucker Distinguished Scholar at George Washington University. “This means that his contributions are even more impactful compared to those of us who focus on a particular substantive domain. The reason is that contributions to methodology influence many, if not all, substantive domains across management subfields ranging from micro to macro.”