The term “business psychology” is sometimes used as a shorter and clearer synonym of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology. In one concern, the two disciplines have much in common, namely, the focus on workplace-related issues and the goal to improve the efficiency of a business. In contrast, while I/O psychology covers more personal issues, business psychology has a broader scope, including strategic relationships and business operations.
The main focus of I/O psychology is so-called company culture, which involves motivation, team building, and the ways to increase the productivity of employees. This field, which is apparently intertwined with human resources, applies small group theory, decision theory, and criterion theory to “improving workplace processes” (Vaughn, 2018). The duties of an I/O psychologist are personnel selection, workplace training, and consulting both average executives and managers personally as well as in groups.
As for business psychologists, their clients are owners of businesses when it comes to personal consulting and leadership teams as groups. According to Vaughn (2018), “business psychology applies psychological practices to big-picture areas.” In particular, a business psychologist may be responsible for producing a corporate strategy, analyzing market performance, and building as well as maintaining a rapport among stakeholders. This field combines psychological and business knowledge, which also distinguishes it from I/O psychology that is mostly based on psychological theories.
In conclusion, although industrial and organizational psychology is intimately related to business psychology, the two terms are not actually interchangeable. Business psychology is broader and targets at higher levels of the corporate hierarchy as compared to I/O psychology, up to business owners. Due to this, a business psychologist should not purely be a good specialist in the psychological scope, but also understand the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.
Vaughn, Sh. (2018). What’s the difference between industrial/organizational psychology and business psychology? The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Web.