Original Research

Measurement of Organisation-Professional Conflict in the industrial psychology profession

Colette Lourens, Leon J. van Vuuren, Riëtte Eiselen
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 38, No 1 | a1035 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i1.1035 | © 2012 Colette Lourens, Leon J. van Vuuren, Riëtte Eiselen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 November 2011 | Published: 09 November 2012

About the author(s)

Colette Lourens, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Leon J. van Vuuren, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Riëtte Eiselen, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: Professionals, employed in organisations, operate within professional and organisational contexts serving different stakeholders. Subsequently, professionals may experience tension or conflict between their role as professional and employee.

Research purpose: To establish the measurement of the perceptions and experiences of industrial psychology (IP) professionals, employed in South African organisations, with regard to Organisation-Professional Conflict (OPC) as well as the antecedents associated with this phenomenon.

Motivation for the study: Although the extent to which professionals experience OPC is well documented for medical and accountancy professionals, the extent to which IP professionals experience this phenomenon remains unclear.

Research design, approach and method: A structured questionnaire was developed and applied as a cross-sectional survey to all registered South African IP professionals employed in organisations. Responses based on the N = 143 self-selecting respondents were captured and utilised for statistical analysis.

Main findings: OPC in the IP profession can be considered as the incongruence between professional organisational roles and duties, and their responsibility to adhere to professional obligations. Professional autonomy and strategic alignment were found to mitigate the occurrence of OPC, whereas power tension and compromise of professionalism seem to exacerbate the occurrence thereof.

Practical/managerial implications: The research might create an awareness of the existence of OPC amongst the respective stakeholders. Knowledge of OPC may have implications for professionals who render their professional services to organisations.

Contribution/value-add: The findings may inform formal professional associations, industrial psychologists employed by organisations, their employing organisations, and the governing board, about the nature and extent of OPC.


industrial psychology; industrial-organisational psychology; organisation-professional conflict; professional obligations; organisational demands; professional autonomy; strategic alignment; power tension; compromise of professionalism


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