Reading the Wikipedia pages on IO Psychology, Arbeitspsychologie and Psychologie du travail et des organisations you can see many differences on the topics and authors of the fields.

At a first sight, this is strongly opinion-based, it looks like in France it is given more importance to suicides at work, while Germany studies a lot of workplace health promotion, while US is more focused on productivity. Is that correct?

What are the common and different things between theories in US, German and French, IO Psychologies?

Is there a textbook or an article that draws the comparison?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you provide some background information on how you came into contact with these theories? What do you already know/where does the confusion stem from? $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Apr 9 '15 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris I have modified my question. I hope it is more clear now. $\endgroup$ – Виталий Олегович Apr 9 '15 at 14:52

In this case, wikipedia is not such a good starting point, because at least the German and the French articles do not seem very well developed and are unlikely to be representative of the research in the respective countries. This is in part my subjective opinion, but can also be seen in their length, which is very short compared to the English article.

Nevertheless, there are differences between research traditions in these countries. A good introduction is Peter Warr's chapter “Some Historical Developments in I-O Psychology Outside USA" in Koppes (2007) which compares US and European approaches.

For example with regard to differences between research in the US and Germany, Warr observes that

In general, German psychologists have been more sympathetic to broad conceptual frameworks (...) This German preference is illustrated by the development of broad "action theories". Those (...)[view] the concept of action as integrating otherwise unrelated issues of job performance, stress, errors, skill development, and other processes.

Whereas American I-O psychology has focused more on abilities, motivation, and similar precursors, action theory examines knowledge, cognitive understanding, mental strategies, and processes of self-regulation. (...) This traditional focus on regulatory processes between an environmental input and behavior has been different in both style and content from most American theorizing. (p. 85).


Laura L. Koppes (Ed.). Historical Perspectives in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2007.

  • $\begingroup$ If I understand correctly you refer to the Action Theory developed by Winfried Hacker, Michael Freese, Dieter Zapf and John Sabini. Is that correct? $\endgroup$ – Виталий Олегович Jul 25 '15 at 11:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, the work of Hacker is an example of this research focus in German IO-psychology. $\endgroup$ – user7759 Jul 26 '15 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ See also: Morf, M. E. (1992). (Some Possible) Differences between European and American Approaches to the Study of Work. European Work & Organizational Psychologist, 2(4), 289. $\endgroup$ – user14074 Apr 11 '17 at 4:33

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