School of Bevioural Sciences, Profile, Ian Rothmann

VTC FACULTY OF HUMANITIES - School of Behavioural Sciences


Sebastiaan (Ian) Rothmann was born on 14 October 1959 in Outjo, Namibia. He matriculated at Etosha Secondary School in Tsumeb, Namibia. After completing a BCom degree (1980, cum laude), majoring in Industrial Psychology, Industrial Sociology and Business Management, a Higher Diploma in Education (1981; cum laude), and an honours degree in Industrial Psychology (1982; cum laude) at the Potchefstroom University, he did compulsory military service for one year, and then joined the permanent force (1984–1986 ). He completed a master’s degree (cum laude) in Industrial Psychology at Potchefstroom University (1984–1986) and an internship in Industrial Psychology at the Military Psychological Institute (1986).

He worked as an intern-psychologist and psychologist in the South African Defence Force (1984–1986). In 1987, registered as an Industrial Psychologist at the Health Professions Council and was appointed lecturer in Industrial Psychology at the Potchefstroom University. In 1990 he was promoted to senior lecturer. In 1996 he completed a PhD entitled “The development and evaluation of a group facilitation programme”. He was appointed associate professor in Industrial Psychology at the Potchefstroom University in 2000.

From January 2003 to August 2008 he was a full professor in Industrial Psychology at the North-West University (NWU, Potchefstroom Campus). From September 2008 to December 2009 Ian had a consultation business (focusing on the promotion of well-being in organisations) in Swakopmund in Namibia, and in January 2010 he was appointed full professor and head of the Department of Human Sciences at the University of Namibia. In September 2010 he was appointed full professor in Industrial Psychology at the NWU (Vaal Triangle Campus). He is currently Director of the Optentia Research Focus Area at the campus.

Ian’s research interest is the assessment and development of human potential and flourishing within a multicultural context (see After completing his PhD, he focused on burnout, stress, coping and suicide within multicultural contexts. With the changing intellectual climate in Psychology after 2000 (towards Positive Psychology), his focus broadened to include work engagement. In 2003, he edited a special edition on burnout, stress and work engagement of the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology .

In 2004 he was appointed co-promoter for a PhD study on bias and equivalence of psychological measures in South Africa, at Tilburg University in the Netherlands (completed in 2008). He also received a rating as researcher by the National Research Foundation (2003–currently). He was leader of the Work Wellness Research Programme at the NWU (1999–2006) and Acting Director: WorkWell (January 2007 to August 2008). In 2007, he co-authored the text book Organizational and Work Psychology. The text book, prescribed by universities in various countries in the world, was translated into Portuguese for use in South America (De Queiroz, LC, Scarcelli, IR, & Fernandes, MIA (2009), Fundamentos de Psicologia Organizacional e do Trabalho. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Elsevier).

Ian was chairperson of the organising committee of the First South African Burnout Conference (2002) and the Second Work Wellness Conference (2004), co-chairperson of the First South Afican Positive Psychology Conference (2006), and chairperson of the First South African Positive Social Sciences Symposium (2011). Furthermore, he was appointed on the scientific committees of the Second ICOH International Conference of Psychosocial Factors at Work (2005, Okayama, Japan), the European Work and Organizational Conference (2007, Stockholm, Sweden), and the International Congress of Psychology (2012, Cape Town, South Africa).

He serves on the editorial boards  of the South African Journal of Industrial Psychology and the Journal of Psychology in Africa. He served on the editorial advisory committees of the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, Management Dynamics, and the South African Business Review. Currently, he is a subeditor of the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology. Ian is frequently asked to act as reviewer for internationally indexed journals and as external examiner, both locally and internationally. He has reviewed manuscripts for the Journal of Applied Psychology, the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, the Journal of Psychology in Africa, the South African Journal of Psychology, the South African Journal of Business Management, the South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, the South African Business Review, the South African Journal of Education and the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology.

In 2005, he was appointed on the Task Committee of the Minister of Public Service and Administration (RSA) and led a group of experts who developed an employee health and well-being policy for government employees. He was also requested to participate in a symposium (in Japan) of 20 international stress experts who were requested to comment on the development of a national stress prevention strategy for Australia in 2006. Ian played an important role in the establishment of Afriforte (2005), a company focusing on the assessment of well-being of employees. The establishment of this company was a direct result of his research on the well-being of employees. In the same year, he received life-long honorary membership of the Society for Industrial & Organisational Psychology of South Africa for distinguished and meritorious service. He won awards as senior researcher of the year at the NWU (2007 and 2008). In 2012 he received an award for being one of the most productive senior researchers at the NWU (Vaal Triangle Campus) over three years.

Ian is author/co-author of 140 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Furthermore, he presented 95 papers at national conferences and 66 papers at international conferences. He supervised/co-supervised 139 master’s and 38 PhD students. He is currently promoter/co-promoter for nine PhD students. He received grants for research projects, including suicide ideation in the South African Police Services (2002, National Research Foundation (NRF): R110 000,00), attitudes towards community policing in South Africa (2002, NRF: R108 000,00), burnout and engagement in South African organisations (2003–2004, NRF: R381 660,00), job insecurity in South African organisations (2004–2005, NRF: R344 000,00), work wellness in South African organisations (2005–2007, NRF: R400 000,00), the development of the South African Personality Inventory (2005–2006, NRF: R385 000,00), coping with unemployment in South Africa (2005–2006, South African-Flemish Partnership: R150 000,00), individual and organisational wellness in the contemporary world of work (2005, Sida: R250 000,00), work-life balance in South Africa (2006–2007, NRF: R374 000,00), work wellness in South Africa (NRF: R130 000,00), and flourishing at work (2011–2012, NRF: R80 000,00). Sixty postgraduate students received grantholder-linked scholarships because of these projects.

He is an honorary member of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa (SIOPSA) and an international affiliate of the American Psychological Association, a member of the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP – USA) and a member of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS). Ian collaborated with various national and international scholars, including Prof Wilmar Schaufeli, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (burnout and engagement), Prof Hans De Witte and Dr Anja van den Broeck, KU Leuven, Belgium (dealing with unemployment), Prof Rens van de Schoot, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (applying Mplus software), Prof Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus University, the Netherlands (happiness), Prof Fons van de Vijver, Tilburg University, the Netherlands (cross-cultural psychological perspectives on behaviour), and Prof Michael Steger, Colorado State University, Unites States (meaning in work). Since 2002, he has also reviewed multiple NRF rating and/or funding applications.