Traditional Industrial/Organizational Psychology focuses more on the "I" than on the "O", that is, it focuses on understanding individual differences among workers and individual jobs. Traditional topics include training and development, performance management and selection to name a few. In contrast, Social-Organizational Psychology places more emphasis on the “O”, that is the organizational and situational context in which employees and groups operate as well as how organizations function as a whole. Social-Organizational Psychology doesn't ignore the "I"; however, it ensures that individuals and individual differences are discussed in the larger context of teams, organizations, and the world.
Kurt Lewin’s theory is the foundation on which the Social-Organizational Psychology program rests. We believe it’s as important to focus on the environment (groups and organizations) as the people who work in them. Social-Organizational Psychologists focus on such topics as motivation, rewards and recognition, leadership, group processes, diversity and inclusion, social networking, conflict resolution, organizational culture, organizational change, and organizational performance.