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What is Organizational Psychology?

Organizational Psychology is an integral part of industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology. This field concerns the application of psychological theories, research, methods, strategies and interventions to workplace issues. Industrial/organizational psychologists help companies increase safety, quality and productivity while ensuring that employers lead physically healthy and psychologically balanced lives. Those who want to learn more can visit the American Psychological Association’s Division 14 website, also known as The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Organizational and Industrial Psychology

Organizational and industrial psychology are interchangeable terms. This interdisciplinary field studies concepts like employee motivation, training, development and leadership. It includes general psychology ideas from social, personnel, personality, organizational and human factors psychology. It includes business theories from general management, human resources, organizational dynamics and change management. Organization and industrial psychology allows HR professionals to apply psychological research to real-world settings.

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Many Industrial/organizational psychologists work in consulting, management, government and private industry. Some practitioners continue to conduct research in academic settings. These industrial/organizational psychologists often work on nationwide projects to collect, synthesize, understand and evaluate data. Most degree programs emphasize field research and downplay the importance of laboratory-based research designs. Class curriculum may involve performance management, decision implementation, training communication, strategic partnership and change management.

Academic and Community Connections

Organizational and industrial psychology truly began in the post-World War II war when science, research and psychology combined to understand and improve workplace efficiency, productivity and performance. Most organizational and industrial psychology degree programs maintain a strong orientation to community and workplace research. Thus, they work closely with local and regional employers, unions, non-profits and government bodies.

As a result, students have opportunities to complete internships and gain applied experiences through project work. Almost all degree programs require students to complete final research projects and submit a paper on their applied experiences. Empirical thesis research projects and master’s dissertations allow students to gain the skills and knowledge they need to immediately help companies. These projects may involve needs analyses, organization resources, projected competencies, organizational changes and external industry factors.

HR Organizational Management

Industrial/organizational psychologists who work as HR consultants often act as organizational managers. They develop and maintain organizational effectiveness plans, programs and activities. They support the design and evaluation of organizational effectiveness tools and methodologies. These HR consultants may support organizational effectiveness projects through creating customized staff nursing engagement and development plans. They design future HR strategies, impact assessments, organizational structures and change management initiatives.

Industrial/organizational psychologists conduct research, share results, deploy initiatives, identify areas for improvement, drive workforce engagement and align employment brands. They use evidence-based approaches and resources to determine appropriate transition, mitigation and intervention activities. Industrial/organizational psychologists may create processes and approaches to incorporate culture, mission and goal commitments through operational initiatives. They may analyze and conduct position-specific and department-wide interventions to address business needs and align organizational strategies.

Industrial/organizational psychology programs do not require a degree in psychology for program admission, but students are encouraged to have a related major. These include business, sociology, communication and public health. Employment opportunities for someone with this graduate degree is quite good.