Organizational Science Professor Wins International Humboldt Award

UNC Charlotte’s Steven Rogelberg is a pioneering researcher in the field of organizational science. In acknowledgement of his profound, international impact on the discipline, Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has named him a recipient of its prestigious research award.

The Humboldt Prize, also known as the Humboldt Research Award, is given annually to up to 100 internationally renowned scientists and scholars across academic disciplines. Recipients receive a prize currently valued at €60,000 (Euros). The award is named for the late Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, and it is considered one of the most esteemed honors presented to a scientist.

Rogelberg said receiving the Humboldt Prize is a great honor and one for which he is profoundly grateful. “My greatest hope is that my scholarship and service to the profession help advance our science and ultimately help people and organizations in meaningful ways. My passion is to try to do things that matter. I am also so fortunate to have done this work in partnership with incredible friends, colleagues and students.”

A professor of organizational science, management and psychology, as well as director of the interdisciplinary Organizational Science Ph.D. Program, Rogelberg was lauded for his research and its practical application in three phenomena: work meetings; organizational research methods; and the stress/health of employees engaged in “dirty jobs,” characterized as vital to society but stigmatized as physically, socially or morally tainted.

“Steven’s work has been transformational, not only at UNC Charlotte, but also within his discipline nationally and internationally,” said Nancy A. Gutierrez, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. “His innovative research has led to improvements in workplace practices, resulting in better working environments for many people. He has helped nonprofits to understand their strengths and to identify their issues. He has mentored students, nonprofit leaders, schoolteachers and other University faculty, leveraging his knowledge to help them gain the insights and tools they need to succeed. It is gratifying to know his contributions are being recognized through this significant award.”

Industrial-organizational psychology is situated between pure science and the application of knowledge. As Rogelberg’s principal nominator observed, he is the “rare researcher” who can combine the two to advance both. He thrives on seeing substantial gaps in the domain of knowledge, especially those with significant practical implications, and uses research to fill those gaps.

Rogelberg has authored more than 100 publications, many in top academic journals, which have been cited frequently by international colleagues. Additionally, he has given numerous invited talks at universities around the world and at professional conferences.

Steven Ott, dean of the Belk College of Business, stated, “Steven has made tremendous contributions to industrial and organizational psychology on an international scale. His leadership of the Organizational Science Program has attracted high-quality graduate students to UNC Charlotte and advanced the scholarship about management, well-being and health issues. His interdisciplinary contributions embody UNC Charlotte’s mission as an urban research university and have business and societal impacts.”

Considered a leading international authority on meetings in the workplace, Rogelberg elevated the topic on the academic landscape with a seminal paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology. He and Ph.D. students under his direction continue to study meeting experiences, along with how they affect employees’ job satisfaction, leader success, their effectiveness in the workplace and their cost in time and impact on the culture of an organization. At the same time, he is often asked to speak with and advise a number of Fortune 500 companies on how to improve and better leverage meetings for organizational success.

Nomination materials also described Rogelberg as a primary leader in the robust and reliable science movement focused on improving scientific systems, such as peer review processes to yield the highest quality, most replicable research possible. In addition, the importance of research methods developed by Rogelberg was noted. His development of population profiling enables him to describe attitudes and personalities to survey non-respondents. Rogelberg also identified novel research methods to increase survey response. His efforts enable scholars across disciplines to better test collected data for representativeness and validity.

Finally, Rogelberg’s research with animal shelter employees who engage in euthanasia activities of unhealthy/unwanted animals was noted for its benefit to society. His study of the health and well-being of shelter employees and volunteers is noted for being interdisciplinary and involves veterinary specialists. His efforts have led to an outreach program for shelter workers/volunteers that is being used in more than 400 animal shelters in the United States.

During his illustrious academic career, Rogelberg has received numerous awards. In 2013, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Chancellor’s Professor (formerly University Professor), a campus-wide recognition of outstanding contributions primarily in a specific discipline but exhibiting an interdisciplinary character enabling contributions in more than one department or college. This appointment is recommended to the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees by the chancellor.

Also, in recognition of humanitarian contributions to the field of industrial-organizational psychology, Rogelberg was named the inaugural recipient of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology Humanitarian Award in spring 2017.

Rogelberg completed a master’s degree and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Connecticut. His undergraduate degree in psychology is from Tufts University.

Words: Phillip Brown | Image: Wade Bruton