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Organizational and Work
Psychology in Brazil:
A Traditional Field and Its Reconstruction Processes

International Practice 
Forum

Lynda Zugec 
The Workforce Consultants


 

Ever wonder what is happening within I-O psychology in Latin America? In this issue of the International Practice Forum, we got together with Iúri, Laura, and Caio to discuss organizational and work psychology in Brazil. Read on for a brief snapshot of the country, recent initiatives, and ongoing projects and research!

Organizational and Work Psychology in Brazil:
A Traditional Field and Its Reconstruction Processes

Iúri Novaes Luna, Laura Cardoni Ruffier, and Caio Henrique de Mendonça Chaves

 

When the development and institutionalization of organizational and work psychology (OWP) in Brazil began in the early 20th century, it was already marked by challenges and has been ever since. Brazil is a country with an exuberant nature, an immensely warm-hearted nation, and a tremendous geographical dimension. Nonetheless, it is also a country with substantial contrasts and inequalities. 

According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estatística–IBGE1 (2014), Brazil has more than 203 million inhabitants, of which 105 million are considered economically active. With respect to school attendance rates, the rate of completion is 80.9% for primary schools and 60.8% for high schools. The average amount of schooling individuals 25 and older hold equates to 7.8 years. When looking at the average peaks of the five main regions of the country (North, Northeast, Southeast, South, and Midwest) one can find vast discrepancies. The same observation can be made with the average peaks in relation to gender, color or race, age, monthly income, and the situation of residence (urban or rural).

Aiming to promote productivity, health, safety, and welfare for people in their work environment, the recent history of OWP in Brazil can be characterized as having an emerging leadership role (understanding that, since Taylorism, the entrance of foreign content has always been a given fact). Therefore, it is possible to highlight an initial and significant contribution of OWP to the Brazilian landscape. Highlighting these contributions reinforces the identity of this area of study within the Brazilian context and defines its boundaries and intersections with management and, more specifically, the management of human resources. Although still fairly recent, incoming foreign production gradually blends with national production and international partnerships evolve.

Despite the existing controversies regarding the term "Organizational and Work Psychology," publications and national scientific events already enable a shared understanding among many professionals and scholars in the field.

In the last few years the OWP has expanded in Brazil. This progress is an outcome of lato sensu and stricto sensu graduate and postgraduate programs as specializations, master's and doctorate programs, the creation of the Associação Brasileira de Psicologia Organizacional (SBPOT),2 as well as biannual meetings of professionals, scholars, and students in the Congressos Brasileiros de Psicologia Organizacional e do Trabalho (CBPOT),3 the journal Revista de Psicologia: Organizações e Trabalho  (rPOT),4 and books such as Processos psicossociais nas organizações e no trabalho (2013)5; O trabalho e as organizações: atuações a partir da Psicologia (2013) 6; Psicologia, organizações e Trabalho no Brasil (2014)7; and Dicionário de psicologia do trabalho e das organizações (2014).8

These books, among others, present up-to-date theoretical and methodological references for training, research, and intervention of OWP in Brazil. The main topics relate to Brazilian and worldwide work contexts, as well as the study of new organizational models and management processes. These are: (a) the micro and meso organizational aspects, including the study of people and groups in the workplace; (b) welfare and health at work; (c) the development of knowledge in OWP and the professional practice of psychologists in the field. This third topic involves innovative initiatives of OWP in Brazil, namely: (a) modernization of traditional practices, such as recruitment and selection, training, and performance assessment; (b) the emergence of new practices, often linked to the arrangement of psychologists into multidisciplinary teams in human resources management areas such as labor organization, turnover, compensation, benefits, human resources management planning, and programs for the improvement of life at work; (c) increases in the quality of intervention in organizational and work issues, including the introduction of conceptual analyses, diagnostics based on research, and activities at the strategic level; and (d) interventions that span beyond organizations and reach broader worker categories due to employment crises and to changes in careers.

In terms of research, a few graduate and postgraduate psychology programs developed in Brazilian federal universities are worth noting. The universities listed below share a common goal to promote work environments with a good quality of life, worker well-being, employee development, and the creation of healthy, productive, and socially responsible organizations: Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA),9 Universidade Federal de Brasília (UnB),10 Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG),11 and Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC).12

Furthermore, in 2001, SBPOT13 and rPOT14 were founded, which are at the forefront of the new phase of OWP in Brazil. The association, assembled by a group of Brazilian scholars and professionals, gathered together based on a shared interest: the development of the field of OWP in Brazil. Their aim is to stimulate the production and dissemination of scientific and technological knowledge. Additionally, in 2004 the same group held the first Congresso Brasileiro de Psicologia Organizacional e do Trabalho (CBPOT),15 which will reach its seventh edition in 2016.16

It is important to mention the thematic areas of the VII CBPOT, which took place in Brasilia in July 2016:

1. Psychologist Training and Practice

  • Innovative practice experiences
  • Training and educational policies in OWP
  • History and knowledge boundaries in the field of OWP
  • Politics, production, and dissemination of knowledge in the field of OWP

2. Human Behavior at Work and Organizations

  • Learning at work
  • Assessment and measures of employee levels, teams, programs, and organizations
  • Climate, culture and human values in work and organizations
  • Diversity and inclusion in organizations and work
  • Work teams
  • Human factors at work and organizations
  • Changes in organizations
  • Psychology, consumer behavior, and marketing
  • Linkages with work: motivation, involvement, satisfaction, commitment

 3. Human Resources Management in Organizations

  • Performance appraisal
  • Diagnostics and management planning
  • Career management, positions, and salaries
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Training, development, and employee education

4. Public and Organizational Policies

  • Social responsibility and management
  • Organizational maturity
  • Conditions and safety policies
  • Employee qualification policies
  • Employee health policies
  • Work and employment policies

5. Work, Family, and Society

  • Retirement
  • Ergonomics and working conditions
  • Health, well-being, emotions, and quality of work life
  • Work meaning, work and other scopes of life: family, religion, and leisure
  • Work, identity, and subjectivity
  • Work, violence, and social exclusion
  • Ageing, work, and organizations

6. Work Relations, Organizations, and Society

  • Collective mobilizations
  • Solidarity organizations and cooperatives
  • Power relations and employees
  • Unionism and new forms of organized work associations

For the first time, CBPOT performed “Consulting Sessions” as one of the congress activities, designed into six themes: performance management; training, development, and education; career management, job and salary; systems and proficiency management models; team development; and retirement.

Funded by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico17 (CNPq) and the agency of Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação18 (MCTI), the research on Talent Retention that was developed by our research team and composed by researchers from two institutions from the South of Brazil (specifically the state of Santa Catarina): Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina19 (UNISUL) and Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina20 (UFSC), illustrates one of the innovative OWP movements in Brazil and stands in the wake of new practices embraced by psychologists within organizations.

Brazilian research on talent retention in public and private organizations is still at an early stage, generally focusing on strategic dimensions, individualized human resource management, prospects for new and upcoming generations, as well as topics related to Brazilian public administration.

Our team engaged in research to develop an instrument for organizational diagnosis processes in career management by investigating talent retention strategies used by 16 private companies of medium and large size from the state of Santa Catarina, located in the South of Brazil. Concurrently, we seek to examine the values that underlie talent management (TM) retention strategies within the investigated organizations. We are investigating economic and noneconomic values under the TM retention practices found in these workplaces. The former values are related to monetary value or commodities that can be exchanged to some amount of monetary value, whereas the latter regard practices without any direct economic compensation to employees. The results of our research show that a significant number of practices are associated with noneconomic values. However, the practices oriented toward economic values were seen as essential by all organizations, because they all have at least one of these practices. Practices that were oriented toward noneconomic values were presented by greater heterogeneity among organizations. Thus, we emphasize the importance of further discussion on talent retention practices oriented towards noneconomic values and the incorporation of these into management strategies and career development.

For additional information about I-O psychology in Brazil or the work of our research team, please send an email to the following: psicologiadotrabalho@contato.ufsc.br.

Considering the challenges that OWP has been facing in our country since the beginning of this century, ongoing exchanges and international partnerships have been considered desirable in efforts to establish a well-defined identity. We understand that the development of this extremely important field of psychology should be guided primarily by a commitment to the well-being and fulfillment of people in their workplaces and a reduction of inequalities that serve to guarantee the sustainable development of healthy, productive, and responsible organizations. As Brazilian OWP psychologists, we welcome engagement with the international I-O psychology community in order to make this a reality.

A special thank you to Isabel Hermenau, an undergraduate student of American Studies and Linguistics of the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz/ Germany (JGU) for the editing of this article.

About the Authors

Iúri Novaes Luna: psychologist, master in Business Administration and PhD in Political Sociology; professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Psychology Postgraduate Program at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC); coordinator of the lab Profissão, Carreiras e Projetos de Vida (LIOP/UFSC).

Laura Cardoni Ruffier: undergraduate student of Psychology in the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC); researcher funded by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), part of lab Profissão, Carreiras e Projetos de Vida (LIOP) from the Departament of Psicologia at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC).

Caio Henrique de Mendonça Chaves Incrocci: undergraduate student of Psychology in the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC); researcher funded by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), part of lab Profissão, Carreiras e Projetos de Vida (LIOP) from the Departament of Psicologia at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC).

WE ARE LOOKING FOR YOU AND YOUR INPUT!

We are calling upon you, the global I-O community, to reach out and submit topic ideas for future columns. Give us your insights from lessons learned in your practice. We are always seeking global contributors!

To provide any feedback or insights on the International Practice Forum, please send an email to the following address: Lynda.Zugec@TheWorkforceConsultants.com

 

 Notes

1 Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estatística–IBGE: Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics

2 Associação Brasileira de Psicologia Organizacional (SBPOT): The Brazilian Association of Organizational and Work Psychology

3 Congressos Brasileiros de Psicologia Organizacional e do Trabalho (CBPOT): Brazilian Congress of Organizational and Work Psychology

4 Revista de Psicologia: Organizações e Trabalho  (rPOT): A journal called Psychology: Organizations and Work

5 Processos psicossociais nas organizações e no trabalho (2013): A book called Psychosocial processes in organizations and work; published by José Carlos Zanelli, Narbal Silva and Suzana da Rosa Tolfo,

6 O trabalho e as organizações: atuações a partir da Psicologia (2013): A book called The work and the organizations: procedures from psychology; published by Livia de Oliveira Borges and Luciana Mourão

7 Psicologia, organizações e Trabalho no Brasil (2014): A book called Psychology, organizations and labor in Brazil; published by José Carlos Zanelli, Jairo Eduardo Borges-Andrade, and Antonio Virgílio Bittencourt Bastos

8 Dicionário de psicologia do trabalho e das organizações (2014): A dictionary called Dictionary of Organizational and Work Psychology; published by Pedro Fernando Bendassolli and Jairo Eduardo Borges-Andrade

9 Universidade Federal da Bahia (UnB): http://www.pospsi.ufba.br

10 Universidade Federal de Brasília (UnB): http://www.psto.com.br

11 Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG): http://www.fafich.ufmg.br/pospsicologia

12 Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC): http://ppgp.ufsc.br

13 SBPOThttp://www.sbpot.org.br

14 rPOT: http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_serial&pid=1984-6657

15 Congresso Brasileiro de Psicologia Organizacional e do Trabalho (CBPOT): Brazilian Congress of Organizational and Work Psychology

16 CBPOT Seventh Edition (http://cbpot2016.sbpot.org.br/site/principal.html)

17 Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico: Scientific and Technological  Development National Council

18 Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação: Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation

19 Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina: University of South of Santa Catarina

20 Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina: Federal University of Santa Catarina