Performance improvement is both a field of inquiry and professional practice (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2006) that draws from a variety of disciplines and fields including economics, mathematics, management, operations research, programmed instruction, psychology, sociology, systems thinking and analysis (Brethower, 2008; Ferond, 2006; Rosenberg, Coscarelli, & Smith Hutchinson, 1999; Stolovitch & Keeps, 1999). Despite these scientific roots, concern developed over the extent to which the field is firmly based in science (Binder, 1995; Clark & Estes, 2000; Foshay, Moller, Schwen, Kalman, & Haney, 1999; Swanson, 1988). For example, Kaufman and Clark (1999) noted that, “As a professional specialty…we are creeping toward a craft and not a scientifically, empirically, or research-based practice” (p. 14).

However, dramatic increases in the volume of performance improvement publications have been noted (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2006). As has the field’s emphasis on empirical research (Klein, 2002; Marker, Huglin, & Johnson, 2006) and performance measurement (Guerra-Lopez & Leigh, 2009). Although the quantity and quality of the literature base appears to be improving, the matter of whether the field is science-based is far from settled. A conclusive, affirmative answer requires more than the mere existence of rigorous empirical research. In fact, the research base must both provide answers to meaningful questions and serve some practical utility to professionals in the field.

To this end, ISPI’s Research Committee seeks to stimulate empirical inquiry into established research priorities in the field. These priorities reflect the input of three major sources outlined in the Call for Proposals: (1) high-performance organizations, (2) field experts, and (3) research-oriented practitioners.

If you are interested in applying, please click here to download the Call for Proposals.