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Ethics in Work and Organizational Psychology  

Joel Lefkowitz

Adequately appreciating any area of applied ethics necessarily begins with indispensable foundations from moral philosophy and moral psychology, which are the bases for understanding normative ethical principles. (Otherwise, one could be reduced to the rote memorization of a near-infinite list of “dos and don’ts.”) Personal and social values also are critical as they shape people’s conceptions of ethics and morality. (For example, what constitutes a harm or a wrong? What is the right thing to do?) Traditionally in moral philosophy there have been three ways of answering those normative questions: from deontology (determining what is permissible based on absolutist ethical principles of right and wrong); consequentialism (assessing which alternative is best because it produces the greatest good [or least harm] for all those affected); and virtue theory (being virtuous). Yet, they have all been shown to have weaknesses. For example, what happens when principles are contradictory? What counts as a good? Who determines what is a virtue? And situations sometimes lend themselves more readily to one or another approach, so prudence suggests understanding and being prepared to use all. A person experiences an ethical problem when faced with a choice that challenges one or more of their ethical principles, with potential significant impact on the well-being of others. Professionals often experience ethical dilemmas, which entail having to make uncomfortable choices—choices one would rather not have to make at all. It helps to be able to recognize the form or structure of the dilemma (e.g., contemplating a self-serving act that will harm others). What makes the situation painful is that the person is motivated to some appreciable degree to “do the right thing” (otherwise they wouldn’t be experiencing a “dilemma”). Professionals such as work and organizational psychologists (WOPs) encounter a variety of ethical challenges in the different venues in which they work—as educators, researchers, practitioners, and administrators. Recent empirical survey data concerning ethical situations experienced and reported by WOPs have become available, illustrating that variety. The process of ethics education and training ought to entail becoming familiar with one or more of the several decision-making models for facilitating ethical reasoning that are available in the professional literature.

Article

Gender in Organizations  

Karyssa Courey, Makai Ruffin, Mikki Hebl, Dillon Stewart, Meridith Townsend, Leilani Seged, Jordyn Williams, Cedric Patterson, Sara Mei, and Eden King

In the U.S., women represent an abysmally small number of Fortune 500 chief executive officers (CEOs) positions, and are generally absent from some of the highest status occupations and the highest echelons of leadership in almost every aspect of society. Scientific research has been brought to bear on this social problem, with the goal of building understanding, awareness, and change. In particular, psychological theory and evidence provide compelling documentation of the challenges that women encounter upon entering and navigating the workplace. The primary theoretical rationales used to explain gender disparities and challenges include social learning theory, social role theory, role congruity theory, lack of fit model, ambivalent sexism theory, and the stereotype content model. These theories emphasize the perceived misalignment between expectations of ideal workers or leaders and those of ideal women as a driver of workplace gender inequities that include women’s disadvantages in educational experiences, access to jobs and pay, leadership positions, sociobiological patterns, and caregiving demands. Workplace gender inequities in these areas can be remedied by implementing strategies for positive change such as empowering women, valuing feminine characteristics, creating equal opportunities, and changing workplace and societal cultures.

Article

Group Socialization  

Geoffrey J. Leonardelli

Group socialization refers to the psychological process by which individuals and groups mutually influence each other’s experience of being a group member. It is a significant topic, considered central to group members’ experience of group living, adjustment, and well-being, and it can be hotly contested, affecting groups of people that include less than a handful to thousands, millions, or more. Group socialization is most regularly interpreted to refer to how groups influence individuals’ transition to becoming group members. However, group socialization includes other membership transitions, too (e.g., becoming full members or exiting the group). Individual members can also influence what defines group membership for themselves and others. Social and self-categorization processes describe how people internalize group socialization, not only in terms of how socializing content is cognitively represented as a group prototype, but also in how people come to see themselves as group members through a process called self-stereotyping. Group socialization is different from, but can inform, group development (i.e., how groups change over time) and is a topic that is regularly negotiated by group members, as the literatures on socialization attitudes (e.g., assimilation, segregation, multiculturalism) and subjective group dynamics attest. Future research would benefit from understanding which principles of group socialization apply to all groups or specific types (small groups, categories). It would also benefit from understanding how multiple and competing group prototypes can be reconciled, the role of the intergroup context in group socialization, and the conditions under which group socialization is negotiated or simply internalized.

Article

Informal Work  

Mahima Saxena

Informal work refers to a variety of nontraditional work and employment arrangements. It is different from to work in the informal economy, even though the terms are often used interchangeably. In the extant literature, terms such as precarious work, gig or freelance work, and nontraditional work are also used to describe informal work. Informal work is a ubiquitous phenomenon, found globally, across all or most nations in the world. The majority of research on informal work has occurred within the fields of economics, sociology, labor law, policy, and related disciplines. It has been recognized that not enough attention in the field of psychology, specifically Industrial and Organizational psychology, has been paid to informal work. For the research that does exist in different scholarly and applied disciplines, there is often terminological overlap and confusion with regard to different forms and formats of alternative work arrangements. In addition, the study of informal work is often plagued by negative stereotypes and colonially inspired schools of thought that consider traditional, generational, and nonorganizational work of a lower standard and quality than professionally driven office-going jobs. The latter are mainly a by-product of the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe and fail to account for the multitude of work and work formats found around the world. Further research and policy attention on informal work is needed to provide conceptual clarity on informal work arrangements and informal workers. Psychology can contribute toward an in-depth understanding of informal work, specifically by focusing on a person-centric, first-person experience of work that is often characterized as informal. Industrial and Organizational psychology can also shed light on the themes and characteristics of work that is typically considered informal. Ultimately, taking a decolonized, international, and boundaryless approach to the psychological study of informal work can contribute both to science and to key policy initiatives surrounding inclusive, global, and sustainable development and human flourishing that leave no one behind.