Getting Action from Organizational Surveys.

Author:Russ, Travis
Position:Book review

Getting Action from Organizational Surveys, by Allen Kraut, editor, Book, 2006, Jossey-Bass Inc., $60.

Organizations have long used surveys to gather information about issues affecting their employees, customers, and overall performance. Unquestionably, surveys can provide valuable insights regarding the attitudes, knowledge levels, and behaviors of organizations' internal and external organizational stakeholders.

However, much is unknown regarding how to use such diagnostic tools to their fullest potential; specifically, what is the best method to translate insights gleaned from organizational surveys into tangible action?

Getting Action from Organizational Surveys edited by Allen I. Kraut seeks to fill that gap. This text is part of the professional practice series by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). As organizational survey pioneer Kraut notes:

"Although surveys are popular as a methodology, not every survey results in action, and not all practitioners understand the critical importance of leveraging their data to make real changes."

The book is not intended to be an updated version of the highly popular and well-respected Organizational Surveys: Tools for Assessment and Change (1996), also edited by Kraut. Instead, Getting Action is a companion piece designed exclusively to discuss ways to get the most from surveys, not necessarily how to create them.

The book is a collection of essays written by well-respected academic scholars and practitioners. The target audience includes industrial or organizational psychologists and human resource professionals--people who are often required to analyze data from surveys to generate concrete organizational action and change.

Three Sections, Three Issues

The text covers a wide range of issues related to getting action from organizational surveys, as the title implies. The 24 essays are divided into three sections: (1) new concepts, (2) new technologies, and (3) new applications.

The new concepts section defines and explains new concepts recently added to the survey lexicon such as linkage, pulse, nonresponse, relative weights, oversurveying, and organizational health (how many can you define?). This section also explores how respondents' attitudes about the organization and its mission can bias survey results. Such inherent biases are often overlooked or underestimated when administering surveys and interpreting the collected data.

The second section--new...

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