Evolution of the field of industrial/organizational psychology
While general psychology has been around for many centuries, industrial psychology is just but a century old. Fundamentally, industrial/organizational psychology is the application of the policies and philosophies of psychology in resolving various issues at the workplace with the intend of achieving a steadiness between the management and the workforce (Aamodt, 2010). Talking of balance, it is worth noting that industrial/organizational psychology is a twofold discipline. As the name suggests, it has both the industrial and the organizational aspect. It is of considerable importance to note that the industrial aspect of psychology is older than the organizational part of it. The industrial aspect of the discipline focuses on management’s view of the discipline. On the contrary, the organizational part of it focuses on the employee and his or her welfare at an individual level. This paper addresses the evolution of I/O psychology, how different it is from other fields of psychology, its importance at the workplace and the role of research and statistics in the discipline.
Industrial psychology is associated with the industrial revolution. At first, it was concerned with the manner in which the production capacity of the employees could be maximized. The employees at that time were viewed as tools to be used in enhancing production (Craford et al, 2006). At this time, it was purely industrial psychology as it only catered for the needs of the employer. As the world wars began, the United States of America, having not prepared for the war, resolved to hurried recruitment of soldiers. Psychology played a key role here. Psychologists recruited men into the roles that they could perform best by analyzing their mental capabilities. At the end of the armed conflict, the psychology experts came back home and applied the same knowledge to the recruitment of employees as part of the staffing function of the organization. The organizational aspect of the discipline came after the researches, studies and findings of such legendary scholars as Landsberger and Fredrick Taylor.
Differences between I/O psychology and other disciplines of psychology
The field of industrial and organizational psychology has its roots in the type of psychology that concerns itself with the environment. Additionally industrial and organizational psychology focuses on the human being in the workplace setting. It entails the analysis of the person in the environment of the workplace. It is therefore said to be a narrower field of psychology since its principles are limited to the context of the employment relationship. It is worth noting that the principles of industrial and organizational psychology applied by different organizations are not identical at all. They vary from organization to organization depending on the management philosophy as well as the organizational mission and vision.
Additionally, it is crucial to mention that unlike other fields of psychology, Industrial and organizational psychology is modified significantly by the forces of industrial relations and employee relationships (Craford et al, 2006). Fundamentally, this branch of psychology is meant to govern he links between the employer and the employee. In its early years, it considered the employers’ associations and the trade unions with a favorable bias to the former. For this reason, this branch of psychology can as well be said to be different because it is two-fold. It addresses the two parties in a contract and seeks to strike a balance between the two forces.
The uses of industrial psychology in an organization
This discipline can be used variously as an organization. The discipline is used by the human resource function of the organization in managing the employees and performing many of the personnel related duties (Colling & Terry, 2008). The discipline is applied in guiding and improvement of employees through training and retraining. During retraining, the management finds it particularly beneficial to apply the concept of change management. Change can be effectively managed and incorporated in to the organization through the workforce. For employees to accept the change, industrial psychologists have to work tremendously hard to get them mentally ready for the change. It is characteristic of the employees to resist change. Industrial and organizational counseling come in handy at such times.
Other uses of the discipline in the personnel department include motivation of the employees, achieving diversity in the organization, designing of jobs and performance of effective supervision. Handling the attitudes of the employees towards work also takes considerable efforts by the personnel function. Such functions as performance appraisal and performance management are paramount to the effective management of the human resources within an organization. It takes serious psychological analysis to handle the poor performers and the achievers alike. The level of motivation required by either of the two is different. Organizational psychologists identify the best candidate for a particular position or task (Craford et al, 2006). As such the psychologists are members of the interview and recruitment screening panels.
The role of research and statistics in industrial/organizational psychology
Research and statistics in the field of industrial and organizational psychology began as early as the beginning of the industrial revolution. Perhaps the most significant studies in the field are those of such prominent management personalities as Landsberger. The experiments and research carried out by management scientists have played a major role in illustrating the difference between industrial and organizational psychology. Research and statistics are never constant. They keep changing from time to time. This is because the variables used are dynamic. Research is not carried out on constants.
Worth mentioning are the experiments carried out between the years 1924 and 1932 that yielded what is now called the Hawthorne effect. The experiments sought to establish the effect of changes in the working environment on the performance of the employees. The researchers started by changing the lighting. It was observed that even in the dimmest of candle lights, the efficiency of the employees did not change. The fact there were researchers were among the working employees made them work harder. In essence, it was not the physical factors that mattered much but rather the psychological factors. The role of research and other studies and statistics have played a central role in describing the effect of psychological factors in the performance of an organization (Aamodt, 2010).
Aamodt, M (2010). Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach (7th Edition). Belmont. Wadsworth Cengage Learning
Colling, T & Terry, M (2008). Industrial Practice (3rd Edition). New York. John Wiley & Sons
Craford, C. Theron, A., Schlechter, P. & Nel, A. (2006). Industrial Psychology: Fresh Perspectives. Cape Town. Maskew Miller Longman (Pty) Ltd