Monday, August 17, 2009

Historical Development of Organizational Psychology (from the net)

Psychology was not recognized as a science until 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychology laboratory. Of course, organizational/industrial psychology was accepted as a branch of psychology not until 1910. Yet many issues important to I/O Psychology had been discussed long before then. Below are a few examples:
  • Aristotle, in Politics, developed foundations for many modern management concepts, including specialization of labor, delegation of authority, departmentalization, decentralization, and leadership selection

  • Medieval European guilds functioned like modern-day quality circles to ensure fine craftsmanship.

  • Machiavelli (in The Prince, 1527) offered practical advice for developing authoritarian structures within organizations.

  • Thomas Hobbes (1651) advocated strong centralized leadership as a means for bringing "order to the chaos created by man". He provided a justification for autocratic rule that helped establish the pattern for organizations through the nineteenth century.

  • John Locke (1690) outlined the philosophical justification later manifested in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which in effect, advocates participatory management in his argument that leadership is granted by the governed.

  • Jean Jacques Rousseau, in The Social Contract (1762), in effect supported Locke's position.

  • Adam Smith (1776), in The Wealth of Nations revolutionized economic and organizational thought by suggesting the use of centralization of labor and equipment in factories, division of specialized labor, and management of specialization in factories.

The Early Years (Pre-World War I)

  • 1881: the first school of professional management was started at the University of Pennsylvania when Joseph Wharton donated $100,000 to do so.

  • 1883: Frederick W. Taylor began experiments at the Midvale and Bethlehem Steel plant, which later led to the development of his "scientific management" philosophy.
  • Walter Dill Scott gave a talk to Chicago business leaders on the application of psychology to advertising, which led to books on the topic published in 1903 & 1908.
    • By 1911 he had published two more books (Influencing Men in Business and Increasing Human Efficiency in Business), and became the first to apply the principles of psychology to motivation and productivity in the workplace.
    • He also became instrumental in the application of personnel procedures within the army during World War I.

  • Hugo Munsterberg, considered by many as "the father of industrial psychology", pioneered the application of psychological findings from laboratory experiments to practical matters
    • In 1911 he cautioned managers to be concerned with "all the questions of the fatigue, monotony, interest, learning, work satisfaction, and rewards."
    • He was also first to encourage government funded research in the area of industrial psy
    • In 1913 his book Psychology and Industrial Efficiency addressed such things as personnel selection and equipment design

  • Munsterberg's early I/O psychology became influential well into the 1950's
    • It assumed people need to fit the organization, thus applied behavioral sciences largely consisted of helping organizations shape people to serve as replacement parts for organizational machines

  • about the same time as Munsterberg, Frederick W. Taylor began publishing similar philosophies on management -- which had a tremendous impact on organizational management

    Frederick W. Taylor

    • Taylor realized the value of redesigning the work situation (thru use of time and motion studies) to achieve both higher output for the company and higher wages for the worker
    • His writings were one of the first reasonably comprehensive philosophies of management
    • 1909 Taylor's book Shop Management explained management's role in motivating workers to avoid "natural soldiering", i.e., the natural tendency of people to "take it easy"

    • 1911 Taylor's book The Principles of Scientific Management; two of his key principles:
      1. scientifically design work methods for efficiency
      2. select the best workers and train them in the best methods
      • e.g., showed workers who handle heavy iron ingots more productive given use of work rests
        • training when to work and when to rest raised productivity from 12.5 to 47.0 tons moved per day
        • Less fatigue reported
        • Increased wages
        • Costs dropped from 9.2 to 3.9 cents per ton

    • Taylor's methods led to charges that he inhumanely exploited workers for higher wages and that great numbers of workers would be unemployed because fewer were needed (which was a sensitive topic since unemployment was already high at the time)
      • Both the Interstate Commerce Commission and the U.S. House of Representatives began investigations
      • Taylor replied that increased efficiency would produce greater not lesser prosperity
      • Outbreak of WWI distracted most from the controversy before much was resolved.

World War I (1917-1918)

  • Robert Yerkes was the psychologist most influential in getting psychology into the war
    • proposed ways of screening recruits for mental deficiency and assigning selected recruits to army jobs
  • committees of psychologists also investigated soldier motivation, morale, psychological problems of physical incapacity ("shell shock"), and discipline

  • Army was skeptical and approved only a modest number of proposals, primarily in the assessment of recruits -- which Yerkes and others developed as a general intelligence test

  • Meanwhile Walter Dill Scott was doing research on best placement of soldiers in Army
    • He classified and placed enlistees, conducted performance evaluations of officers, and developed and prepared job duties and qualifications for over 500 jobs

  • However, the final authorization for the testing program came in August 1918, only three months before the Armistice was signed -- thus the intelligence tests weren't as utilized as much as Yerkes had hoped

  • 1917: Journal of Applied Psychology began publication
    • Even today it is still perhaps the most respected, representative journal in I/O field.

Between the Wars (1919-1940)

  • Psychological Corporation started by James Cattell in 1921
    • Main purpose was to advance psychology and promote its usefulness to industry
    • Also to maintain quality reputation of field by serving as a place for companies to get reference checks on prospective psychologists
      • Helped companies weed out quacks from qualified professionals
    • Mission has shifted: Today serves as one of largest publishers of psychological tests

  • 1920's: doctoral degrees specializing in industrial psychology begin to be offered at U.S. universities
    • Among the first: Ohio State, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Univ. of Minnesota, and Stanford University

  • Greatest influence on I/O psychology from this time was the Hawthorne studies

    The Hawthorne Studies

  • 1924 series of experiments began at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company
    • Researchers from Harvard University (who were not psychologists) were attempting to study the relation between lighting and efficiency
    • Increased lighting resulted in increased efficiency, but to their surprise, efficiency continued to improve as the lighting dimmed to faint moonlight levels

    • These seemingly "bizarre" results were eventually explained in terms of previously unrecognized aspects of human behavior in the workplace
    • Researchers hypothesized that these results were due to the employee's desire to please them
      • They were flattered at having distinguished investigators from Harvard study them and were trying to impress them, which caused them to be more productive
    • Quite some time later the employees got used to the researchers' presence and began returning to their original levels of productivity

  • The Hawthorne Effect -- change in behavior following the onset of a novel treatment (new or increased attention, most commonly)
    • Effect eventually wears off (behavior returns to original) as the "novelty" dissipates

  • 1933 Elton Mayo made the first significant call for the human relations movement in his interim report on the Hawthorne studies
    • Showed the existence of informal employee groups and their effects on production, the importance of employee attitudes, the value of a sympathetic and understanding supervisor, and the need to treat people as people -- not simply as human capital
    • This was one of the benchmark events in the development of industrial psychology
  • 1939 the definitive account of the Hawthorne studies was published.

Between the Wars: During and Shortly After the Hawthorne Studies

  • Major advances in measurement of attitudes during 1920's and 1930's
    • Likert and Thurstone among those particularly prominent

  • One of the earliest with clinical roots to enter I/O psychology was Morris Viteles
    • Viteles was student of Lightner Witmer (who many consider the father of clinical psych)
    • Among Viteles' books were:
      • Industrial Psychology (1932) (perhaps first book to use that term in its title)
      • The Science of Work (1934)
      • Motivation and Morale in Industry (1953)

  • In 1939, Kurt Lewin led the first publication of an empirical study of the effects of leadership styles; this work initiated arguments for the use of participative management techniques.

World War II (1941-1945)

  • By this time industrial psychologists had improved many of their techniques for employee selection and placement, and were sought after by the army for their help with these functions
    • Successful I/O contributions included development of:
      • Army General Classification Test
        • used to classify an estimated 12 million soldiers into military jobs
      • Tests of performance under situational stress for U.S. Office of Strategic Services
        • the OSS was the first U.S. intelligence agency (precursor to CIA)
        • tests highly successful for identifying best candidates to be OSS agents
        • innovative assessment methods used
          • original basis for assessment center techniques of today

  • 1945 Kurt Lewin formed the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT to perform experiments in group behavior
    • 1948 the research center moved to the University of Michigan and became a branch of the Institute for Social Research

  • 1946: I/O psychologists form Division 14 of the American Psychological Association
    • incorporated as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 1983
    • by 1996, grown to approximately 2,500 members.

1950's and 1960's

  • Late 40's & early 50's: clinical psychologists Carl Rogers' and Abraham Maslow's theories of motivation supported the human relations movement

  • Skinner initiated discussions of behaviorism's applications to organizational settings

  • 1954 Peter F. Drucker outlined his Management by Objectives (MBO) approach
  • 1954 John C. Flanigan outlined his Critical Incidents Technique

  • Rise of Motivation Theories in late 1950's through 1960's

    • Late 1950's: Douglas McGregor proposed his Theory X and Theory Y assumptions of the relations between employees and organizations

    • Early 1960's: contingency models of leadership proposed a need for different styles under different circumstances -- a view that rose with work of Fred Fiedler in mid 1960's

    • 1964: Vroom's VIE theory (valence, instrumentality, expectancy) of motivation proposed
      • Influencial in development of later expectancy theories

    • Mid 1960's: David McClelland proposed need for achievement theory
      • Argues there are two groups of people, the majority who aren't concerned about achieving and the minority who are challenged by achieving

    • Late 1960's: Frederick Herzberg proposed his two-factor theory of motivation (satisfiens/motivators & hygiene factors)

    • Late 1960's: Edwin Locke outlined his goal setting approach to motivation

  • 1964 Civil Rights Act passed. Title VII, section 703a states: "it is unlawful to discriminate in any employment practice on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin"

  • 1966: Katz & Kahn published classic text outlining theory and research of organizational behavior as embedded in open, sociotechnical systems

  • Mid 1960's into early 1970's: advances in job analysis techniques included:
    • 'task inventory' approach developed from research with U.S. Air Force
    • Dictionary of Occupational Titles published in 1965 (third edition)
    • 1960's research at Purdue Occupational Research Center led to publication of the Position Analysis Questionnaire in 1972
    • Edwin Fleishman developed 'ability requirements' approach.


  • 1971: B.F. Skinner, in Beyond Freedom and Dignity, advocated behavior modification strategies to motivate people in organizations
  • Organizational behavior modification's successes increasingly demonstrated
    • e.g., in Luthans & Kreitner's (1975) and Frederiksen's (1982) books

  • Rise of cognitive approaches to studying topics in psychology (which grew in 1960's) continued in 1970's, including their influence on a wide range of I/O research

  • Early 1970's: Porter & Lawler proposed revised expectancy model of motivation

  • Early/mid 1970s: Civil rights laws, and related Supreme Court decisions, led to increasing research on bias in organizations.

1980's & 1990's

  • As entered 1980's, the rigidity of classical theories of management produced harsh consequences for American businesses (e.g., in the automobile industry) during these times of rapid change in the technological and business environments
    • Japanese were prospering with methods first proposed by Americans: Edward Deming, Joseph Juran, and Noam Crosby
      • First adopted after WWII in Japan when U.S. companies resisted their ideas

  • 1984 article in the Academy of Management Review outlined explanations for the success of Japanese management techniques as:
    1. Superior manufacturing processes
    2. Increased quality and quantity coupled with reduced cost
    3. Participatory management techniques
    4. Use of statistical quality control techniques
    5. Consensus decision making
    6. Lifetime job security (although in 1990's some Japanese companies moved away from this guarantee)
    7. Long-term planning

  • Mid 1980's: increasing attention to use of quality circles and other participatory management techniques
  • Late 1980's: renewed interest in organizational climate and groups
  • Late 1980's: rise of participatory management techniques known by such terms as
    Total Quality Management (TQM), Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), and
    Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)

  • 1990's: rise of meta-analysis as statistical technique (spurred by Hunter & Schmidt's 1990 book -- an extention of their 1977 Schmidt & Hunter journal article)
    • Enables combining data from many different previously-published studies (that individually had led to varying and perhaps even contradictory conclusions)
      • Technique analyzes overall pattern across all studies included
    • Although somewhat controversial, this technique advocated by many
    • Increased optimism that validity findings for mental ability tests (used in selection) can be generalized to a wide range of other samples
      • In other words, direct evaluations of validity for each new sample argued to be unnecessary

  • 1986: first ruling by U.S. Supreme Court on subject of sexual harassment
    • Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson: hostile work environment standard supported
  • 1990's: rapid rise of attention to the issue in both employment law and psychology
    • 1991: Anita Hill's charges against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings to become a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court raised public's attention to issue
    • 1991 Civil Rights Act provided first legal basis for SH victims to sue for punitive damages
    • 1993: second sexual harassment ruling from U.S. Supreme Court
    • 1998: U.S. Supreme Court handed down four landmark decisions
      • more rulings on sexual harassment in 1998 from Supreme Court than in all previous years combined
    • 1999 and 2001 brought additional Supreme Court decisions

  • Late 1980's & into the 1990's: work stress received increasing attention in I/O research, theory, and practice
  • Balancing work and family lives received increasing attention in I/O research in late 1980's, and again in mid/late 1990's
  • Workplace aggression / workplace violence emerged as topic of study in mid/late 1990's

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