Course taster

Unit summary

Psychology has a valuable role in increasing our understanding of human behaviour and how organisations function. Therefore, work and organisational psychology are defined as an applied division of psychology concerned with studying human behaviour related to work, organisations and productivity.

Various approaches and theories have contributed to the field of work and organisational psychology. Early contributions emphasised efficient performance based on economic considerations. Classical organisation theory was concerned with the effective organisation of people. In turn, the Hawthorne investigations emphasised the social character of humans. Following this came the human relations movement, which focused on human needs, attitudes, motives and relationships.

In contrast to an emphasis primarily on the structure or the human side of organisations, organisational thought has emphasised integrating these two perspectives in the past few decades. In addition, more recent developments in the field of organisation development and the positive psychology movement also contributed to work and organisational psychology. Four tasks of the work of organisational psychologists are distinguished, namely explaining individual, group and organisational behaviour, measuring behaviour and predicting potential, contributing to organisation development and translating research findings and empowering potential users thereof.

The landmark developments in the evolution of organisational behaviour and organisational psychology include scientific management, human relations, neo-human relations, occupational/industrial psychology, classical bureaucracy, principles of organisation, contingency theory and systems theory. In addition, contemporary developments related to modifications to organisational structures and management practices have become pronounced because of the nature and scale of change in recent years.

End of unit activity: Identifying challenges of organisational psychologists

Completing this activity will help prepare you to reflect on issues, controversies and future opportunities around business psychology.

Discuss the following question on the Discussion Board:

Identify the major challenges for work and organisational psychologists in the next ten years. List the competencies needed by work and organisational psychologists. Compare your competencies with those required of work and organisational psychologists and identify the most important gaps between your competency profile and the profile as specified.

Post your answer (up to 300 words) on the Discussion Board and discuss it with your peers. Your postings should be informed by research and not unsubstantiated opinions. Undertake a little independent reading and cite your sources in your posts.

Read what your peers are posting and reply to at least two of them (up to 200 words) (The link to the Discussion Board is not available in this course taster).