Occupying prime place in industry of psychology

Industrial and Organizational Psychology - Psychology Applied to Work
November 24, 2000

These textbooks, both of which cover the fields of industrial and organisational psychology, are written by two of the leading American industrial and organisational psychologists.

Industrial psychology (I) in the United States has it origins in personnel selection at the time of the First World War. Psychological testing was used to allocate military personnel to jobs and training courses in line with their personality, abilities and aptitudes. Organisational psychology (O) has a shorter but no less distinguished pedigree. It originated in the 1950s from social psychologists, sociologists and social anthropologists concerned with better understanding the nature of modern industrial organisations and going beyond psychometric testing toward an appreciation of interpersonal, group, inter - group and organisational behaviour.

Although there is a great deal of overlap between these books in terms of core aspects of personnel and organisational psychology, o n topics such as personnel selection, performance appraisal, motivation, training and leadership, the emphasis in Paul Spector’s book is rooted more firmly in the I as opposed to the O aspects of industrial and organisational psychology. Spector’s book has five sections: research methods, assessment of job, performance and people, selecting and training employees , the individual and organisations , and the social context of work. There are 14 chapters scattered in these five sections, with only three chapters primarily on the O aspects of psychology.

Paul Muchinsky’s book comprises four sections of 16 chapters. The sections explore the historical foundation of I/O psychology (as well as research methods), personnel psychology (eg. selection and training), organisational psychology (eg. work teams, workplace stress and leadership) and the work environment (eg. organisational development, union-management relations and the changing nature of work). In this book, five to six chapters are I , as opposed to O, psychology orientated. The overlap between the two books, therefore, is limited, and even the chapters with similar titles add a slightly different dimension or approach to the topic. One could see these two excellent volumes sitting side-by-side o n the same course.

Both books are well written, well organised and full of most of the relevant theories and major sources of empirical work. They are both undergraduate texts that could be used on any I/O psychology, or as we term it in the UK, occupational psychology, course or programme. They are both easy to read with mountains of entertaining and relevant material. With both, readers would have the field of I/O psychology covered. My only caveat is that both books are strongly American in their material, with too few European or other international theories or empirical studies. This reflects, to some extent, the state of industrial and organisational psychology generally, with the US the dominant force in the field. But major work has recently been developed in the UK, the Netherlands and Scandinavia and this should be reflected in future editions if they are to have cultural relevance.

Nevertheless, these are outstanding texts, which will provide readers with wonderful source material and a thorough grounding in the field. 
Cary L. Cooper is professor of organisational psychology and health, UMIST.   

Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Second edition

Author - Paul E. Spector
ISBN - 0 471 24373 6
Publisher - Wiley
Price - £25.95
Pages - 376

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