By Josh Moniz
---- — MANKATO — Tucked away in Minnesota State University's Wiecking Center, a little-known student-operated consulting firm based around the college's Industrial-Organizational Psychology graduate program is making a big difference for national and international businesses and organizations.
The Organizational Effectiveness Research Group is a management consulting service that uses 20 MSU graduate students each year to tackle variety of employee-related projects. The students utilize their Industrial-Organizational Psychology education, which focuses on data and helping to organize the expertise of the employees. The discipline helps the employees and management develop approaches that they can use to work together to maximize productivity, conflict resolution and balance work-life responsibilities.
OERG also helps businesses develop scientific approaches for many common decisions, such as selecting new hires, evaluating employee performance and selecting leaders.
Professor Dan Sachau, the director of the Industrial-Organizational Psychology program, said the work is really about helping with the human aspect of work.
"It's about figuring out how to increase job satisfaction for workers or dealing with conflict. It's about the psychology of management," Sachau said.
The organization has completed projects for organizations ranging from a NATO base in Germany to the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and from Minnesota State Colleges and University System to local restaurants.
The program is unique because it is one of the few college programs to allow "hands-on" experience with actual companies while the students are receiving their education, which attracts graduate students from major colleges around the country. Students that complete the program often go on to work at consulting firms or specialized human resource departments in national companies.
Sachau said the program creates a "win-win" situation for all people involved by helping the students, providing data for professors and providing the service at a low rate to the company or organization.
He said most locals do not realize OERG exists because the majority of the work is done internationally or around the country with organizations big enough to have a vested interest in OERG's services. However, he said OERG's offices were recently remodeled to increase their ability to tackle local projects and to provide the students with person-to-person meeting areas.
OERG is entirely self-funded through the fees it charges for its services.
More information can be found at www.mnsu.edu/oerg.