Five Currents of Organizational Psychology—from Group Norms to Enforced Change




Learning & compentencies, Organization & management


This article discusses five currents in organizational psychology that have had particular significance in relation to the field of organizational development in Scandinavia:The social psychological, the socio-technical, the humanistic, the work psychological, and the social constructionist currents. I discuss central tenets from leading scholars in relation to group norms, contextualized working tasks, and conflicts among groups. Although treated differently, the phenomena of the small group, group dynamics, resistance to change, and process consultation are throughgoing.These phenomena link the discipline together into a mutually discordant, but relatively consistent discipline.While the early currents focused on interpersonal process based on dialogue for the sake of satisfaction and efficiency, the latter sees movement as a goal in itself. The analysis exposes a decrease over time of analytical interest in group norms, contextualized tasks, and avoidance of conflict. This focus on continual change has negative implications for the credibility of the discipline. 

Author Biography

Niels Christian Mossfeldt Nickelsen, Aarhus University

Associate professor, Danish School of Education, mail:




How to Cite

Nickelsen, N. C. M. (2017). Five Currents of Organizational Psychology—from Group Norms to Enforced Change. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 7(1), 87–106.