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History of SOBA

SOBA was founded in 1998/9 by Professors' Bob Wood, Sharon Parker, Mark Griffin, Boris Kabanoff, and Phyllis Tharenou.


The first SOBA meeting was held in Little Bay, Sydney, hosted by Bob Wood and AGSM in 1999. SOBA was held in Little Bay, which at that time was owned by the Australian Graduate School of Management, UNSW. The selection criteria for the first meeting was “has an established record of tier 1 publications in OB/Work Psychology area plus an ongoing research program that should lead to more of the same”.


Initial members of SOBA included:


John Cordery

Cynthia Fisher

Mark Griffin

Beryl Hesketh

Rick Iverson

Nerina Jimmieson

Boris Kabanoff

Brett Myors

Mara Olekans

Sharon Parker

Deborah Terry

Phyllis Tharenou

Tony Winefield

Robert (Bob) Wood


Bob Wood subsequently became the informal chair of SOBA, with Sharon, Mark, and Boris as support and the informal selection committee.  Sharon took over as the informal chair of SOBA in 2012.


The initial reason for starting SOBA was to strengthen our Australian network of organisational behaviour scholars. As noted in the first planning document (written by Bob Wood):


Why have SOBA?
1. To bring together Australian-based organizational behavior, work psychology and organizational psychology researchers on a regular basis to talk about ongoing research programs, research agendas and specific issues of general interest in an atmosphere that promotes the critical exchange and evaluation of ideas and fosters an Australian research community.
2. To cultivate an Australian identity among organizational behavior, work psychology and organizational psychology researchers in the USA and Europe.


At that time, several members felt that they often briefly met each other at international conferences, but didn’t have many opportunities beyond that to network as a group of colleagues with some shared interests and challenges.


They also thought that by coming together as a group, they would learn about each others research, share knowledge, and ultimately build Australia’s capacity in the field of organisational behaviour.


Since its inception, SOBA has thrived and many wonderful meetings have been held throughout Australia. One of the greatest benefits of SOBA has been learning about other members' research and developing strong relationships that have resulted from becoming a genuine community.


There have been several other spin-off benefits from SOBA over the years such as sharing insights about the ARC process, collaborations, meeting each others’ PhD students and advertising job opportunities.


The intention has always been for SOBA to have minimum bureaucracy and rules. Naturally, as the size of the group has increased, greater formalisation has been required.

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