NWU Optentia director awarded honorary fellowship by SIOPSA

Anjonet Jordaan -- Mon, 08/03/2015 - 14:51

NWU Optentia director awarded SIOPSA honorary fellowship

The director of the North-West University's (NWU's) Optentia Research Focus Area and acclaimed researcher, Prof Ian Rothmann, was recently awarded an honorary fellowship by his peers at the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa (SIOPSA).

SIOPSA defines such an individual as a full member who has made an outstanding contribution to the science, practice or organisation of psychology.

SIOPSA’s mission is to help develop a fair and humane work environment, thereby enabling people to reach their full potential and experience a high quality of work life in South Africa. To this end, they strive to create conditions in which Industrial and Organisational Psychologists will be able to deliver efficient and effective services to the benefit of all in South Africa.

Therefore, the contributions made by members to help enhance the knowledge, insight and resources available to industrial and organisational psychologists are greatly appreciated. Fellow SIOPSA members, who recommended Prof Rothmann for this honour, cited four main reasons:

  • His contribution to the discipline of industrial and organisational psychology;
  • His inter-institutional skills transfer in relation to research methodology, statistical analysis and methodology;
  • His contribution to uplift society through his research; and
  • National and international recognition of his contribution to science.


Prof Ian Rothmann, SIOPSA honorary fellow and director of Optentia Research Focus Area.


Contributions to the discipline of organisational psychology

Prof Rothmann has been instrumental in developing Organisational Psychology as a discipline in South Africa. He has become synonymous with concepts such as work wellness, wellbeing and positive psychology in the South African context. As such, he has contributed as a researcher and thought leader since the 1980s in various seminal works within the South African context, such as the South African Personality Index (SAPI), by formalising work-related wellbeing, as well as the development and validation of various psychometric instruments.

To date Prof Rothmann has published more than 400 articles, books, conference proceedings and specialist book chapters in various domains of organisational psychology.

More important than his investment into the development of organisational psychology, is his investment of time, effort and a genuine caring attitude to promote the development of others. Thus far 138 master’s degree students and 41 doctoral students completed their studies under his patient guidance – many of them developing into some of South Africa’s top industrial psychology researchers.


Successful on national and international level

Prof Rothmann purposefully extends his network internationally, building relationships that have resulted in international experts becoming involved in various research projects lead by him. Such collaborations results in social science research in South Africa being uplifted in terms of quality, stature and scope.

His strategies to uplift South African Journals in their international standing and stature, led to much exposure for local journals and a massive increase in citation ratios from international researchers.

Serving on the editorial boards of numerous national and international journals, Prof Rothmann is both respected and admired by his peers who consider him a true expert in the field. They seek his opinion on research methodology, statistical analysis and positive psychology – the latter being the golden thread running through the research done by the Optentia Research Focus Area.


Inter-institutional skills transfer

Prof Rothmann is considered a methodologist and to be one of South Africa’s experts in applied statistics within entire social sciences sphere. In an attempt to increase the quality of research outputs, Prof Rothmann invests in the development of research practices and skills within South Africa. To aid the betterment of research quality, he often selflessly presents workshops on specialist statistical skills to colleagues from other academic institutions.

“Prof Rothmann is not only an excellent researcher, but also a mentor to many of us. He shares his knowledge and experience unconditionally,” says Dr Elrie Botha, Director: School of Behavioural Sciences on NWU’s Vaal Triangle Campus.


Positive impact through research

The research Prof Rothmann does and promotes through the Optentia Research Focus Area on North-West University’s Vaal Triangle Campus, focuses on positive psychology. The research done here has had and continues to have wide ranging impact on individuals, groups, organisations and the South African parliament.

Evident in his approach is a focus on application, where research is not engaged in unless the research focus and processes are beneficial to society. An example of this approach includes various community-based projects to aid communities to flourish, such as the support of the Father a Nation Project.


* The Optentia Research Focus Area is located in Vanderbijlpark (Gauteng) on North-West University’s Vaal Triangle Campus. Optentia’s mission is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with specific interest in the African context. The research programme utilises the inputs from various disciplines in the social sciences, including Psychology, Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Educational Sciences, Employment Relations, and Social Work. The inputs are channelled into 7 sub-programmes:

  • Flourishing in Institutions
  • Pathways to Resilience and Post-traumatic Growth
  • Psychosocial Well-being and Communal Thriving
  • Aging & Generational Dynamics
  • Unlocking Potential in Educational Processes
  • Holistic Learner Development in Diverse Contexts
  • Optimising Performance