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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Leadership Courses Taught in Psychology and Management

College and graduate courses on the topic of leadership are commonly taught in different disciplines such as psychology, management, administration, etc.  Leadership is a big deal in industrial and organizational psychology, and it is also a hot topic in MBA classes.  I wonder, are there significant differences in these leadership courses taught for various majors?

First, we need to identify different courses in leadership, - there are courses of leadership theories and leadership skills and applications.  Actually, for leadership theory courses, the content is usually the same across business and psychology schools, and it is common for student from one school to take such classes in another school, after all, a theory is a theory.  On the other hand, the rest of the core curriculum, which focus on applied concepts, principles and skills, is quite different.  For example, an MBA program is designed to create leaders and managers, thus the courses are designed to serve the purpose.  A degree in psychology is designed to create an applied research and academic psychologist, thus psychology and management are two very different fields.  As far as I/O psychology, leadership is a key topic in the areas of assessment, development, coaching, talent management, and succession planning.  Sometimes job design and organizational theory-design play a role in the work.  The skill set of an I/O psychologist that is useful to an organization is that of identifying leadership talent and/or building leadership talent vs. being a CEO of an organization (more of an MBA role).  These two fields may have overlaps.  A person in a CEO type position could have a background in I/O psychology, such as those individuals who have their own consulting companies or work for some of the boutique consulting firms that specialize in the field.  In summary, the same leadership theories are studied in different fields for different purpose, thus different curriculums are developed to address to future needs of the students in their specific workplace.

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