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Organizational Psychology

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Organizational Psychology

Having a job, especially one you spend 40 hours at each week, can feel draining and exhausting. It is in the best interest of both the employee and employer to consider ways of improving a person's time at work.

  • We will be looking at the definition of organizational psychology.
  • What are the principles of organizational psychology?
  • What are some examples of organizational psychology?
  • We'll look at some theories of industrial-organizational psychology.
  • What is social-organizational psychology?

Organizational Psychology Definition

Organizational psychology focuses on the human part of organizations. We are all different, with different backgrounds and beliefs. Conflict and other issues are inevitable when humans are asked to be productive and work with others.

Organizational psychology is a subfield of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology that focuses on improving worker motivation, productivity, and satisfaction. It also deals with the influence of work environments and management styles.

Organizational psychologists help maximize worker productivity and satisfaction by using statistics and analyzing organizational structures. They help facilitate organizational change and improvement by enhancing employee motivation and engagement. The quality of our work life is important because it can greatly impact other areas of our lives. This should come as no surprise as many of us will spend most of our lives working. Organizational psychologists have found that lower job stress can support better health. They've also found that job satisfaction and work-life balance can help improve overall life satisfaction (Bowling et al., 2010).

Principles of Organizational Psychology

Many principles of organizational psychology are based on social psychology, learning, and motivational concepts. Organizational psychologists will examine ways to improve employee satisfaction. It is much harder to show up every day for a job you hate than for a job you love. It is in an employer's best interest to consider employee satisfaction as it will improve employee contribution. For most of us, when we are more positive at work, our creativity, helpfulness, and persistence are enhanced. Job satisfaction may also improve our overall job performance as well.

Employee engagement refers to our level of enthusiasm, identification, and involvement with our organizations.

Employee morale and interaction can play a large role in engagement. When we feel more connected to the mission and people of our organization, we will be more engaged in our work. Organizational psychologists have found that engaged workers shared the following attributes:

  • They perceived that they were part of something significant,

  • felt fulfilled in their work,

  • knew what was expected of them,

  • had opportunities to learn and develop,

  • had what they needed to do their work,

  • had regular opportunities to do what they do best.

Organizational Psychology, smiling barista serving coffee, StudySmarterJob satisfaction, Freepik.com

Leadership Principles of Organizational Psychology

All of us probably have had... that boss. The type of boss that is unclear in their expectations, or is more like a dictator than a leader. Maybe they micromanage our every single move. In any case, leadership within an organization can have a major impact on employee productivity and satisfaction and is, therefore, an important principle in organizational psychology.

Leadership is the ability to promote group success through motivation and influence.

One of the most important tasks of a leader is to set clear, specific, and appropriately challenging goals. Maybe your teacher gave you a clear deadline for a paper, or your boss set a daily goal for everyone to sell 50 items a day. When leaders set clear goals for workers, it motivates achievement, helps to focus our attention, and encourages us to persist and find creative ways to complete the task. An effective leader will provide feedback along the way and break down larger goals into smaller steps. Providing implementation intentions such as when, where, and how to achieve those steps can go a long way.

Psychological principles of motivation can be applied to this principle of organizational psychology. Focusing on immediate goals helps to sustain our mood and motivation. Charismatic leaders have a special ability to motivate people to work together towards a common goal. Therefore, effective leadership can have a significant impact in organizational psychology.

To be an effective leader, they should consider what leadership style would best suit their specific situation and organization.

A leader with a directive leadership style will focus primarily on setting employee goals and give instruction on how to achieve those goals.

You may think of a commander leading a troop into battle. Leaders using this style of leadership will engage in task leadership in which they set standards, organize work, and help workers focus their attention on goals. A directive leadership style is not always appropriate in a corporate setting, but may be modified to fit this setting. Although, business leaders today are more receptive to employee feedback which is encouraged in directive leadership.

A leader with a democratic leadership style will invite team members to contribute to decision-making and welcome creativity.

Leaders using a democratic leadership style will likely engage in social leadership in which they prioritize building a team that works well, helping employees resolve conflict, and explaining their decisions. The benefits of social leadership include the following:

  • When participating in decision-making, workers perform better and are more satisfied and motivated.

  • Team building may increase employee morale and productivity.

  • Workers become more sensitive and aware of one another, allowing them to solve problems with greater "collective intelligence".

Organizational Psychology, manager writing goals on board surrounded by employees, StudySmarterLeader setting goals, Freepik.com.

Organizational Psychology Examples

Organizational psychology examples are extensive. Psychological principles could be applied in several ways to improve overall productivity, motivation, and satisfaction in the workplace. Organizational psychologists rely heavily on data and statistics to steer decision-making. An example of how this might be applied to job satisfaction would be for psychologists to assess problems within the workplace and find ways to change or eliminate those problems.

Another example of organizational psychology can be applied to job motivation. Unless we absolutely love what we do all the time, it can be quite challenging to feel motivated to do the same thing every day. Organizational psychology can improve client relationships and motivation by improving employee morale.

Employers may offer an end-of-the-year bonus, positive reinforcement as rewards, paid time off, and vacation time.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology Theories

Industrial-organizational psychology theories will inevitably include principles of organizational psychology. Let's take a look at a few examples of industrial-organizational psychology.

Bureaucratic Theory

First articulated by Max Weber, the bureaucratic theory states that in the workplace everyone should be treated equally, and the division of labor should be clearly assigned to each employee. According to Max Weber, there are three types of power that can be found within an organization: traditional power, charismatic power, and legal power. Bureaucracy within an organization is meant to ensure efficiency and economic effectiveness.

Bureaucracy can be characterized by task specialization, former employee selection, rules and requirements, career orientation, hierarchical layers of authority, and impersonal or personal indifference.

Human Relations Theory

The human relations theory in organizational psychology suggests that social bonds in the workplace and the acknowledgement of workers’ uniqueness can increase employee productivity and motivation. This theory was the product of a study at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in Illinois. Researchers had originally designed the study to observe ways in which the work environment could improve productivity. Instead, what they found was that even when work conditions improved, productivity sometimes decreased, and vice versa. Researchers found that motivation was primarily because employees knew they were under observation.

Open-System Theory

All of us are products of our environment to some extent. We are all part of our systems and our environment and its many parts.

The open system theory in organizational psychology suggests that an organization is the collection of many parts that share data and resources with its external environment.

Several concepts have resulted from the open system approach. One school of thought called the contingency theory states that there are several structural possibilities that could be best for a business. In other words, there's no one right way, but rather, many.

Organizational Psychology, four hands in a huddle workplace, StudySmarterEmployee morale, Freeik.com

Social-Organizational Psychology

From a very young age, we are all taught how to get along. These skills prove valuable even in the workplace. Social-organizational psychology specifically focuses on concepts of social psychology such as group behavior, work climate, and group practices. Social-organizational psychologists might find ways to improve work climate by improving attitudes and communication patterns. Work teams should bring together their experience, expertise, and diverse skills.

Organizational culture is comprised of the visions, values, norms, hierarchies, and interactions of its employees. An organization could include a wide variety of cultures which should be taken into consideration in social-organizational psychology. Therefore, diversity and sensitivity training may be especially important in creating a safe work environment for everyone. With the workforce being a global marketplace, understanding and being sensitive to cultural differences can go a long way. Having a firm grasp of other social factors such as age, and violence in the workplace, can go a long way as well.

Organizational Psychology - Key takeaways

  • Organizational psychology is a subfield of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology that focuses on improving worker motivation, productivity, and satisfaction, and the influence of work environments and management styles.
  • Employee engagement refers to our level of enthusiasm, identification, and involvement with our organizations.
  • Leadership is the ability to promote group success through motivation and influence.
  • A leader with a directive leadership style will focus primarily on setting employee goals and give instructions on how to achieve those goals.
  • A leader with a democratic leadership style will invite team members to contribute to decision-making and welcome creativity.

References

  1. Bowling, N. A., Eschleman, K. J., & Wang, Q. (2010). "A meta-analytic examination of the relationship between job satisfaction and subjective well-being." Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83, 915–934 (p. 840).
  2. Fox, M. F., & Mohapatra, S. (2007). "Social-organizational characteristics of work and publication productivity among academic scientists in doctoral-granting departments." The Journal of Higher Education, 78 (5), 542-571.

Frequently Asked Questions about Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychology is a subfield of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology that focuses on improving worker motivation, productivity, and satisfaction. It also deals with the influence of work environments and management styles.

The main approaches to organizational psychology include the human resources approach, contingency approach, productivity approach, and the systema pproach. 

 The differences between industrial and organizational psychology is that industrial organization pertains to the hiring, personnel, and training side of an organization while organizational psychology focuses on employee motivation, productivity, and satisfaction.

The importance of organizational psychology lies in the fact that overall job satisfaction can impact other areas of our lives. Organizational psychology seeks to improve job work conditions which can promote a person's overall health. 

Some principles of organizational psychology include leadership, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction. 

Final Organizational Psychology Quiz

Question

What is organizational psychology?

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Answer

Organizational psychology is a subfield of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology that focuses on improving worker motivation, productivity, and satisfaction and the influence of work environments and management styles

Show question

Question

True or False? Organizational psychologists have found that lower job stress can support better health.

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True

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Question

Job satisfaction may also improve our overall job ________.

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Answer

performance

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Question

What is employee engagement?

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Answer

Employee engagement

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Question

Which of the following attributes do engaged workers share?

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Answer

Fulfilled in their work

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Question

Define leadership.


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Answer

Leadership is the ability to promote group success through motivation and influence.

Show question

Question

A leader with a _________ leadership style will focus primarily on setting employee goals and give instruction on how to achieve those goals.

Show answer

Answer

directive

Show question

Question

A leader with a _______ leadership style will invite team members to contribute to decision-making and welcome creativity.

Show answer

Answer

democratic

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Question

Leaders using a democratic leadership style will likely engage in ___________in which they prioritize building a team that works well, helping employees resolve conflict, and explaining their decisions.

Show answer

Answer

social leadership

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Question

 Leaders using this style of leadership will engage in __________ in which they set standards, organize work, and help workers focus their attention on goals.


Show answer

Answer

task leadership

Show question

Question

Who first created the bureaucratic theory?


Show answer

Answer

Max Weber

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Question

The ______________ and organizational psychology suggest that social bonds in the workplace and the acknowledgment of workers’ uniqueness can increase employee productivity and motivation.

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Answer

human relations theory

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Question

What study is the human relations theory based on? 

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Answer

Hawthorne Plant of the Western Electric Company in Illinois.

Show question

Question

What is the open system theory?


Show answer

Answer

The open system theory in organizational psychology suggests that an organization is the collection of many parts that share data and resources with its external environment.

Show question

Question

An organization could include a wide variety of cultures which should be taken into consideration in social-organizational psychology. Therefore, ________ and _________ training may be especially important in creating a safe work environment for everyone

Show answer

Answer

diversity ; sensitivity

Show question

Question

True or False: Organizational psychologists help facilitate organizational change and improvement by enhancing employee motivation and engagement. 

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank: Many principles of organizational psychology are based on _____________ psychology, learning, and motivational concepts. 

Show answer

Answer

social 

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Question

Maw Weber theorized that there are 3 types of power that can be found within an organization.

Select those 3 styles from the following options. 

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Answer

Traditional Power

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Question

True or False: Bureaucracy within an organization is meant to ensure efficiency and economic effectiveness. 

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

Select the following characteristics of bureaucracy. 

*You should refer to the section on the Bureaucratic Theory 

Show answer

Answer

Task Specialization

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