Questions and answers for Intro to Organizational Psychology

Questions and answers will be posted here for for Psychology 360, Introduction to Organizational Psychology, at the University of Michigan.

Why can't I get the URL for the course homepage to work?
Make sure: a) the URL begins with http://; b) that there are no spaces in the URL; and c) that you enter upper and lower case letters exactly as they appear

Will the course mid-term be an in-class exam?
Yes, the mid-term exam on 2/24 will be in-class.

How do I find out what the reading assignment is?
Two ways: a) check the course schedule; or b) the hardcopy version of the syllabus contains the course schedule.

Does this course use on-line conferencing, such as confer?
No, we do not currently plan to use on-line conferencing. Our past experience suggests that plain old email works well enough for most students. If there is a huge grassroots demand for confer-like facilities we will make this happen.

Where can I find out about the psych honors program?
Materials are available from the psychology undergrad office in 1044 EE.

Do the points on the lecture slides have to dim when you move to the next point?
We thought this might be cool, but we were wrong. We've turned the dim function off to allow students more time to read the slides

Could outlines of the lectures be made available on the course homepage?
Yes, please check out the additional offerings on the slides page.

Do the slide images have to be so big on the course homepage?
When we experimented with smaller images, the slides were not readable. Try expanding your web browser to view the entire slide.

Where are the course reserve materials?
Reserve materials are available from the Org Psych secretary on the third floor of East Engineering. Call in advance to make sure she is available to help you, 763 - 0264.

What is the difference between a citation and a footnote?
In Academy of Management style, footnotes are used mostly to clarify details in the text. In your papers you would indicate the use of pseudonyms via a footnote. Citations to articles and books are all done in text as: a) ... in Simpson (1995) it is claimed...; or b) ...while other studies claim the opposite (Simpson, 1995)

When answering the question from the midterm on the final exam, should we be answering using theories and ideas only from the second half of the semester? if not, how much of the emphasis Should be on the second half?
You should revise your answer from the mid-term to reflect information you have gained in the second half that further illuminates your original answer. For example, something about group dynamics or leadership style could be included as a possible buffer/modifier of occupational stress. Or, politics and power might have something to do with adoption of socialization schemes for undergraduates.

When answering any question, is it better to try to mention as many different theories and ideas that we can relate to the question and problem to show that we have a broad-based understanding on the topic? Or is it better to pick one theory or general idea and upon mentioning what that is, go on to describe, analyze, etc, the way in which this idea is relevant and solves the problem?
In writing exam answers you are always best off making a single argument and documenting this argument as effectively as possible. What many students fail to understand is that most interesting questions in organizational psychology are not subject to one correct interpretation. Rather, there are subtleties of analysis -- which often means that two people can argue slightly different things, but both can be described as making strong arguments. For example, in terms of work-related attitudes, one could claim influence from the social environment OR one could claim that attitudes stem from disposition. The key issue is that each of these perspectives represents a well-reasoned point-of-view for which evidence can be marshalled (and in a larger sense, for which data can be collected to test these conflicting hypotheses). To answer your question specifically, you should use the second strategy you mentioned instead of the first.

What is the best way to study for an essay exam?
You should practice writing answers to mock questions under time pressure. In your practice sessions, you should observe these rules: a) put your pencil down and think about the question for a minute or two; b) outline your answer to create a list to ensure completeness; c) document your answer with specific examples from your readings, or with specific references to theories; and d) remember -- good grades go to those who craft good arguments, therefore it is crucial to be organized and logical in your answers.

What exactly is the status on using index cards for the final? Are we allowed to write up a new mid-term index card?
As per our discussion in class and in section, you may bring only one card to the exam. But, this card may cover material for the mid-term and for the final..

In terms of isomorphism, can you please provide me with examples of each; mimetic, coercive, and normative forces.
Isomorphic forces are pressures on organizations that cause them to be the same (vis iso = same + morphic = shape). Mimetic forces = organizations come to look the same because they copy the same successful model; US universities all look like German universities of the 19th century because the 19th century was the greatest period of growth in US higher education -- and at that time, the best universities in the world were in Germany (a modern version might be to say that everyone copies Harvard...) Coercive forces = organizations come to look the same because they are compelled to assume a certain form by a superordinate authority; municipal governments in the US all have merit driven hierarchies because civil service reform in the early part of this century was passed by state and federal legilsatures to combat corrupt city political machines (which operated primarily on patronage... vis Boss Tweed in New York City) normative forces = organizations come to look the same because they become dominated by the same group of people (e.g., professionals) who have similar beliefs; professional organizations play a large role in specifying standards and requirements for organizations -- in the medical sector the AMA and the AHA (Am Hosp Assoc) determine credentialling requirements for doctors and hospitals (vis a certified hospital must have a radiology dept, must have a board certified surgeon, must have a set number of refresher course hours for staff, must update equipment etc...)

Return to the Introduction to Organizational Psychology Home Page.

Contact the author via e-mail. Or send e-mail to

Copyright © 1996, The Regents of the University of Michigan, All rights reserved.
Revised - November 4, 1996