Industrial, work and organizational psychology in turkey

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Psychology lectures and publications started at Istanbul University in 1870, during Ottoman period. After Turkey Republic is established in 1923 psychology courses were offered by Teachers Training Institute. During this period psychology professors from Europe and North America came to Istanbul and contribute to organize the psychology curriculum at Turkish Universities.
The first experimental psychology laboratory was established in 1937 and Turkish Psychological Association (TPA) published the first Psychology Journal in 1940. During this period, two well known (in Europe and U.S.) Turkish psychologists, namely Mumtaz Turhan from Istanbul University who had completed his PhD in Germany and obtained a second doctorate in U.K., and Muzaffer Serif who completed his PhD in the U.S., were two of the leading scholars of psychology in Turkey.*
Industrial psychology emerged in 1960’s as undergraduate classes at several universities and psychotechnics laboratories (focusing on selection and man-machine interaction) was established at Turkish Railway Company and a few textile industries.
After 1980’s I-O psychology and its contributions were known, to some extend, both by academia and private sector organizations. During the last decades, undergraduate classes and graduate programs in Industrial, Work and Organizational Psychology are disseminated.
Despite these developments, before the scientist - practitioner model of Work and Organizational Psychology became “known” in organizations, human resource management practices started as a “fad” and the signs as “personnel departments” replaced with “human resources management departments” in organizations. Unfortunately in late 80’s there were almost no HR experts to be placed in HR departments. Therefore, lawyers (through their industrial relations, work with unions) started to work in HR departments with ad-hoc applications for job analysis, selection, performance evaluation techniques, organizational development, organizational surveys and other basic functions. Professionals like engineers, economists, retired army and police officers were recruited for human resources management departments. Thus, organizations and industry were not able to establish functional selection, promotion, performance evaluation, training programs, systems. During this period Total Quality Management (TQM) was introduced where the importance of participative leadership, team work, employee involvement, importance of communication, feedback systems came to the stage in organizations. The national industries and some organizations were highly involved establishing a professional HR department and using these systems efficiently. In mid nineties some large scale industries were able to win the European Total Quality Management Award (EFQM) consecutively for three-four years and the growth of these companies were remarkable. This was a great eye opener for hundreds of organizations in industry. Companies became aware of the virtues of “selecting the right people for the right jobs” and training and development programs, and attitude surveys across organizations in private sector were disseminated.
By Prof. Handan Kepir Sinangil

Marmara University (Turkey)

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