One week before Kalamazoo College’s school-wide homecoming, Assistant Professor Kristie McAlpine ’09 had a homecoming of her own as she presented her workplace research to the psychology department that launched her career. Dr. McAlpine’s Psychology Colloquium Series lecture was introduced by Professor Robert Batsell, who fondly remembered McAlpine as a standout student who earned the department’s First-Year Prize in Psychology and concluded her time at K with a “excellent” SIP.
Dr. McAlpine introduced her presentation by recounting the research she conducted as a student with Dr. Karyn Boatwright on gender and leadership in the workplace. It was this research, she said, which ultimately inspired her SIP and brought about a host of opportunities to present at conferences, influencing her career path in industrial psychology and human resource studies. After K, Dr. McAlpine went on to earn a master’s in Human Resources and Labor Relationship at Michigan State University and then a doctorate in the same field at Cornell University. Recently, she was hired as a faculty member of Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations.
Dr. McAlpine’s presentation centered around the frequent, unplanned interactions that co-workers tend to have with each other when they spend time in the same physical office space, and the link between that water cooler interaction and innovation. With telecommuting on the rise, social scientists of the workplace have observed many individual benefits reaped by workers who can opt out of commuting. However, Dr. McAlpine’s study of 99 teams within a Fortune 100 technology company suggests that telecommuting may detract from the idea-generation and productivity that is so vital for teams of workers in the knowledge economy. Dr. McAlpine discussed the implications of her work and the direction of further research.