I read an article calling for organizational psychology and the things these folks do for companies. And, interestingly, many of the tasks seem like things that I’ve been calling for L&D to do. So now I have to ask what’s the relationship between these two areas?
My background is psychology, specifically the cognitive kind (ok more cog sci than just psych, but still). And so I’ve been pushing the idea of doing a cognitive analysis of organizations, and incorporating new understandings of cognition in how we run our companies, and more. The point being that we need to align how our organizations operate with how our brains do.
In a sense, then, I’m arguing for a psychological approach to organizations. This includes best principles across the board: working together, learning alone, etc. Yet, I’m typically talking to and about Learning & Development (even when I argue it needs a revolution). Am I missing the forest for the trees?
Now, it’s clear that the formal role of organizational psychology is bigger. It’s about hiring, and incentives, and occupational stress and a number of other things that I normally don’t consider. And, it doesn’t seem to be much about technology, the approaches to innovation seem limited, and some of the things it investigates seem more like outcomes. Yet it also includes training & workforce development, culture, and more.
I also have to say that it’s history seems to be in behavioral psychology. It appears (on the surface, mind you) to be a bit mired in thinking linearly, not networked. Of course, I’m probably biased here, and this is true for L&D too! There’re probably pockets of modernity as well.
So is L&D a subset? I really don’t know. I’d like to hear what you have to say on it. Perhaps my arguments really are (cognitive) organizational psychology. In another sense, I’m not sure it’s important. It’s not so much where you come from as what you are about, and the methods you use. Still, this is a question I’d like to hear thoughts on. Is there a definitive answer?
Katy Caselli says
Hi Clark, as a longtime L and D professional, I was thrilled when I came across and dove into the I/O Psych Masters program because it took everything I knew and put a deeper, more impactful and strategic spin on things. Also, it broadened my understanding of all other people systems, such as recruiting, performance management and employee relations. I think some companies do have the internal expertise to solve people system problems, but also, many may need an outside analyst to look at people systems and bring them up to the best practice level.