The field of psychology focuses on the study of individual’s behaviors in order to determine why they behave in the manner that they do. This field is broken down into many subfields, each focusing on a different area of psychology. Organizational psychology is a field that is involved with individuals within an organizational setting. There are many factors that come into play in order for an organization to be efficient. Organizational psychology uses scientific methodology in order to potentially make organizations more efficient by better understanding the behaviors of individuals that work within that organization. In order to fully understand this field it is important to first define organizational psychology and study its evolution. In addition, it is important to compare organizational psychology with related disciplines to understand their relationship as well as the roles research and statistics play when analyzing data.
Defining organizational psychology
According to Jex & Britt (2008), organizational psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on understanding both individual and group behaviors while working in formal organizational settings. Because there are multiple types of organizations, there is not a “one size fits all” method to make each organization more effective. High productivity, high quality service to customers, financial success and job security are factors that indicate an effective organization (Jex & Britt). Organizational psychology is a sub-field of psychology; therefore psychologists view individual’s behavior as the most important factor when studying organizations. Individuals are representatives of organizations and their behavior is often a representative of the structure within his or her organization such as his or her job description or a specific policy that employees are required to follow. The focus on individual behavior when explaining organizational processes is a factor that distinguishes organizational psychology from other disciplines (Jex & Britt).
Evolution of the field of organizational psychology
According to Koppes & Pickren (2007), there are several reasons to study the history of organizational psychology and how it has evolved: knowledge of past mistakes helps to prevent future issues, looking at previous research can aid in generating new ideas and solve current issues, the past helps to put a current issue into context, and knowing the history of a field helps to make a more knowledgeable scholar. According to Jex & Britt (2008), the beginning of the scientific study of organizational structure initially began in the early 1900’s. The inciting event that is considered to be the beginning point of organizational psychology is the Hawthorne studies, which investigated the impact of environmental factors on employee productivity within an organization. By the 1940’s and 1950’s, the Human Relations perspective had been developed and research projects for the Commission on Community Relations were being conducted. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Division 14 of APA was changed to Industrial/Organizational Psychology and the multi-level perspective in organizational psychology was introduced, bringing more focus to non-traditional topics. The concept of what is considered to be a “job”, as well as changing demographics within the workplace, and an increase in globalization of the economy were pronounced during the 1980’s and 1990’s. From the year 2000 to present day organizational psychology has been influenced by further advances in communication technology, greater flexibility in work arrangements, and the boundaries of what is considered to be work and what is considered to be non-work becoming less and less clear.
Compare and contrast organizational psychology with two related disciplines
Organizational psychology is a field alone, however; it is a part of a broader field known as industrial/organizational psychology.