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Organizational behavior (OB) is "the study of human behavior in organizational settings, the interface between human behavior and the organization, and the organization itself." (p.4)  OB can be divided into three levels: the study of (a) individuals in organizations (micro-level), (b) work groups (meso-level), and (c) how organizations behave (macro-level).
- 1 Overview
- 2 Relation to industrial and organizational psychology
- 3 History
- 4 Current state of the field
- 5 Methods used
- 6 Topics
- 6.1 Counterproductive work behavior
- 6.2 Decision-making
- 6.3 Employee mistreatment
- 6.4 Teams
- 6.5 Job-related attitudes and emotions
- 6.6 Leadership
- 6.7 Managerial roles
- 6.8 Motivation
- 6.9 National culture
- 6.10 Organizational citizenship behavior
- 6.11 Organizational culture
- 6.12 Personality
- 6.13 Occupational stress
- 6.14 Work-family
- 7 Organization theory
- 8 Journals
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
Chester Barnard recognized that individuals behave differently when acting in their organizational role than when acting separately from the organization. OB researchers study the behavior of individuals primarily in their organizational roles. One of the main goals of organizational theorists in OB is "to revitalize organizational theory and develop a better conceptualization of organizational life"
Relation to industrial and organizational psychology
Miner (2006) pointed out that "there is a certain arbitrarinesss" in identifying "a point at which organizational behavior became established as a distinct discipline" (p. 56), suggesting that it could have emerged in the 1940s or 1950s. He also underlined the fact that the industrial psychology division of the American Psychological Association did not add "organizational" to its name until 1970, "long after organizational behavior had clearly come into existence" (p. 56), noting that a similar situation arose in sociology. Although there are similarities and differences between the two disciplines, there is still much confusion as to the nature of differences between organizational behavior and organizational psychology.
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The Hawthorne studies stimulated OB researchers to study the impact of psychological factors on organizations. In his 1931 book, Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization, Elton Mayo advised managers to deal with emotional needs of employees. The human relations movement, an outgrowth of the Hawthorne studies, influenced OB researchers to focus on teams, motivation, and the actualization of individuals' goals within organizations.
The Second World War prompted a shift the field, as it turned its attention to large-scale logistics and operations research. There was a renewed interest in rationalist approaches to the study of organizations. Herbert Simon, James G. March, and the so-called "Carnegie School" conducted influential OB research. Other prominent OB researchers include Chester Barnard, Henri Fayol, Frederick Herzberg, Abraham Maslow, David McClelland, and Victor Vroom, Douglas McGregor, Karl Weick and Mary Parker Follett.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the field became more quantitative and produced such ideas as bounded rationality, the informal organization, and resource dependence. Contingency theory, institutional theory, and organizational ecology also emerged.
Starting in the 1980s, cultural explanations of organizations and organizational change became areas of study. Informed by anthropology, psychology and sociology, qualitative research became more acceptable in OB.
Current state of the field
Research in and the teaching of OB can be found in university management departments that are generally found in colleges of business. Similar micro OB topics are taught in industrial and organizational psychology graduate programs.
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During the last 20 years, there have been additional developments in OB research and practice:
- Anthropology has become increasingly influential, and led to the idea that one can understand firms as communities, by introducing concepts such as organizational culture, organizational rituals, and symbolic acts.
- Leadership studies became part of OB.
- OB researchers have shown increased interest in ethics and its importance in an organization.
- OB researchers have become interested in the aesthetic sphere of organizations, drawing on theories and methods from the humanities, including theater, literature, music, and art.
A variety of methods are used in organizational behavior, many of which are found in other social sciences.
Computer simulation is a prominent method in organizational behavior. While there are many uses for computer simulation, most OB researchers have used computer simulation to understand how organizations or firms operate. More recently, however, researchers have also started to apply computer simulation to understand individual behavior at a micro-level, focusing on individual and interpersonal cognition and behavior such as the thought processes and behaviors that make up teamwork.
Qualitative research consists of a number of methods of inquiry that generally do not involve the quantification of variables. Qualitative methods can range from the content analysis of interviews or written material to written narratives of observations. Some common methods include:
Counterproductive work behavior
Counterproductive work behavior consists of behavior by employees that harm or intended to harm organizations and people in organizations.
- Rational planning model
- Normative decision-making (concerned with how decision should is ordinarily made)
- Descriptive decision-making (concerned with how a thinker arrives at a judgment)
- Prescriptive decision-making (aims to improve decision-making)
There are several types of mistreatment that employees endure in organizations including abusive supervision, bullying, incivility, and sexual harassment.
Although definitions of workplace bullying vary, it involves a repeated pattern of harmful behaviors directed towards an individual. In order for a behavior to be termed bullying, the individual or individuals doing the harm have to have either singly or jointly more power than the victim.
Sexual harassment is behavior that denigrates or mistreats an individual due to his or her gender, creates an offensive workplace, and interferes with an individual being able to do the job.
Organizational behavior deals with employee attitudes and feelings.
- Job satisfaction is the feelings one has about the job or facets of the job, such as pay or supervision
- Organizational commitment is the extent to which employees feel attachment to their organization.
- Emotional labor concerns the requirement that employees display certain emotions, like smiling at customers.
There have been a number of approaches and theories that concern leadership. Early theories focused on characteristics of leaders, while later theories focused on leader behavior, and conditions under which individuals can be effective. Some leadership approaches and theories include:
- Contingency theory says that good leadership depends on characteristics of the leader and the situation.
- Leader-member exchange theory or LMX focus on relationships between individual supervisor-subordinate pairs.
- Ohio State Leadership Studies identified the dimensions of consideration (showing concern and respect for subordinates) and initiating structure (assigning tasks and setting performance goals).
- Path-goal theory is a contingency theory linking appropriate leader style to organizational conditions, and subordinate personality.
- Transformational leadership theory concerns the behaviors leaders do that inspire followers to high levels of motivation and performance. Related to charismatic leadership that is part of transformational.
In the late 1960s Henry Mintzberg, a graduate student at MIT, carefully studied the activities of five executives. On the basis of his observations, Mintzberg arrived at three categories that subsume managerial roles: interpersonal roles; decisional roles; and informational roles.
Baron and Greenberg (2008) wrote that motivation involves "the set of processes that arouse, direct, and maintain human behavior toward attaining some goal."
There are several different theories of motivation relevant to OB.
- Equity theory
- Expectancy theory
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Incentive theory
- Organizational Justice theory
- Frederick Herzberg's two-factor theory
- Theory X and Theory Y
National culture is thought to affect the behavior of individuals in organizations. This idea is exemplified by Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory. Hofstede surveyed a large number of cultures and identified six dimensions of national cultures that influence the behavior of individuals in organizations.
- Power distance
- Individualism vs. collectivism
- Uncertainty avoidance
- Masculinity vs. femininity
- Long-term orientation vs. short term orientation
- Indulgence vs. restraint
Organizational citizenship behavior
Organizational citizenship behavior is behavior that goes beyond assigned tasks and contributes to the well-being of organizations.
Organizational culture emphasizes the culture of the organization itself. This approach presumes that organizations can be characterized by cultural dimensions such as beliefs, values, rituals, symbols, and so forth. Within this approach, the approaches generally consist of either developing models for understanding organizational culture or developing typologies of organizational culture. Edgar Schein developed a model for understanding organizational culture and identified three levels of organizational culture:
- Artifacts and Behaviors
- Espoused Values
- Shared Basic Assumptions
Schein argued that if any of these three levels were divergent tension would result: if, for example, espoused values or desired behaviors were not consistent with the basic assumptions of an organisation it is likely that these values or behaviors would be rejected.
Personality concerns consistent patterns of behavior, cognition, and emotion in individuals. The study of personality in organizations has generally focused on the relation of specific traits to employee performance. There has been a particular focus on the Big Five personality traits, which refers to five overarching personality traits.
There are number of ways to characterize occupational stress. One way of characterizing it is to term it an imbalance between job demands (aspects of the job that require mental or physical effort) and resources that help manage the demands.
Chester Barnard recognized that individuals behave differently when acting in their work role than when acting in roles outside their work role. Work-family conflict occurs when the demands of family and work roles are incompatible, and the demands of at least one role interfere with the discharge of the demands of the other.
Organization theory is concerned with explaining the organization as a whole or populations of organizations. The focus of organizational theory is to understand the structure and processes of organizations and how organizations interact with industries and societies. Within business schools, organization theory or OT is considered a separate specialization in management from OB.
Max Weber argued that bureaucracy involved the application of rational-legal authority to the organization of work, making bureaucracy the most technically efficient form of organization. Charles Perrow extended Weber's work, arguing that all organizations can be understood in terms of bureaucracy and that organizational failures are more often a result of insufficient application of bureaucratic principles.
Weber's principles of bureaucratic organization:
- A formal organizational hierarchy
- Management by rules
- Organization by functional specialty and selecting people based on their skills and technical qualifications
- An "up-focused" (to organization's board or shareholders) or "in-focused" (to the organization itself) mission
- Purposefully impersonal, applying the same rules and structures to all members of the organization
Economic theories of organization
Organizational ecology models apply concepts from evolutionary theory to the study of populations of organisations, focusing on birth (founding), growth and change, and death (firm mortality). In this view, organizations are 'selected' based on their fit with their operating environment.
Organization structures and dynamics
- Complexity theory and organizations
- French and Raven's five bases of power
- Hybrid organization
- Informal organization
- Resource dependence theory
- Mintzberg's Organigraph
Scientific management refers to an approach to management based on principles of engineering. It focuses on incentives and other practices empirically shown to improve productivity.
The systems framework is also fundamental to organizational theory. Organizations are complex, goal-oriented entities. Alexander Bogdanov, an early thinker in the field, developed his tectology, a theory widely considered a precursor of Bertalanffy's general systems theory. One of the aims of general systems theory was to model human organizations. Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist, was influential in developing a systems perspective with regard to organizations. He coined the term "systems of ideology," partly based on his frustration with behaviorist psychology, which he believed to be an obstacle to sustainable work in psychology (see Ash 1992: 198-207). Niklas Luhmann, a sociologist, developed a sociological systems theory.
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