||This article possibly contains original research. (September 2010)|
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 micro OB (the study of individuals in organizations), meso OB (the study of work groups), and macro OB (the study of how organizations behave).According to Miner (2006) when organizational behavior began the overlap between the well established scientific field of organizational psychology was pronounced and there was even moves to try and incorporate industrial and organizational psychology into business schools in the United StatesAlthough there are subtle differences, there is still a lot of confusion as to the difference between organizational behavior and organisational psychology as Jex and Britt (2008) point out.
- 1 History
- 2 Current state of the field
- 3 Methods used
- 4 Topics
- 4.1 Counterproductive work behavior
- 4.2 Decision making
- 4.3 Employee mistreatment
- 4.4 Groups and Teams
- 4.5 Job attitudes and emotions
- 4.6 Leadership
- 4.7 Managerial roles
- 4.8 Motivation
- 4.9 National Culture
- 4.10 Organizational citizenship behavior
- 4.11 Organizational culture
- 4.12 Personality
- 4.13 Stress
- 4.14 Work-family
- 5 Organization theory
- 6 Journals
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
After the First World War, the focus of organizational behavior shifted to how psychological factors affected organizations, a transformation propelled by the identification of the Hawthorne Effect. Elton Mayo, headed the Hawthorne Studies at Harvard. In his classic writing in 1931, Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization, he advised managers to deal with emotional needs of employees at work. The Human Relations Movement focused on teams, motivation, and the actualization of the goals of individuals within organizations. When organizational behavior began there was very significant overlap with the well established field of industrial/organizational psychology.
The Second World War further shifted the field, as the invention of large-scale logistics and operations research led to a renewed interest in rationalist approaches to the study of organizations. Influential work was done by Herbert Alexander Simon and James G. March and the so-called "Carnegie School" of organizational behavior. Prominent scholars included Chester Barnard, Henri Fayol, Frederick Herzberg, Abraham Maslow, David McClelland, and Victor Vroom.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the field was strongly influenced by social psychology and the emphasis in academic study was on quantitative research. An explosion of theorizing produced Bounded Rationality, Informal Organization, Contingency Theory, Resource Dependence, Institutional Theory, and Organizational Ecology theories, among many others.
Starting in the 1980s, cultural explanations of organizations and change became an important part of study. Qualitative methods of study became more acceptable, informed by anthropology, and sociology.
Current state of the field
The study and teaching of organizational behavior can be found in organizational behavior departments and management departments that generally form part of business schools. Micro OB topics overlap with the field of industrial/organizational psychology, and are taught in psychology departments as well.
During the last 20 years, organizational behavior study and practice has developed and expanded through creating integrations with other domains:
- Anthropology became an interesting prism to understanding firms as communities, by introducing concepts like Organizational culture, 'organizational rituals' and 'symbolic acts' enabling new ways to understand organizations as communities.
- Leadership Understanding: the crucial role of leadership at various levels of an organization in the process of change management.
- Ethics and their importance as pillars of any vision and one of the most important driving forces in an organization.
- Aesthetics: Within the last decades a field emerged that focuses on the aesthetic sphere of our existence in organizations, drawing on interdisciplinary theories and methods from the humanities and disciplines such as theatre studies, literature, music, visual studies and many more.
A variety of methods are used in organizational behavior, many of which are found in other social sciences.
Quantitative research involves the assigning of numbers to levels of variables of interest, generally using inferential statistics to analyze relationships among variables. Commonly used statistics include:
Computer simulation is a prominent method in organizational behavior as well as strategic management. While there are many uses for computer simulation (including the development of engineering systems inside high-technology firms), most academics in the fields of strategic management and organizational behavior 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 behvaior at a micro-level, focusing on individual and interpersonal cognition and behavior such as team working.
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
- Rational planning model
- Normative (concentrates on how decision should be made)
- Descriptive (concerned with how the thinker came up with their judgement)
- Prescriptive (Aim to improve decision making)
There are several types of mistreatment that employees endure in organizations.
Groups and Teams
Job attitudes and emotions
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 undertook a careful study of five executives to determine what those managers did on their jobs. On the basis of his observations, Mintzberg classifies managerial roles into three categories: interpersonal roles; decisional roles; and informational roles
Motivation that forces either internal or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and resistance to pursue a certain course of action. According to Baron and Greenberg (2008): "Although motivation is a broad and complex concept, organizational scientists have agreed on its basic characteristics. Drawing from various social sciences, we define motivation as the set of processes that arouse, direct, and maintain human behavior toward attaining some goal"
There are many different motivation theories applied to organizations such as:
- Equity theory
- Expectancy theory
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Incentive theory (psychology)
- Organizational Justice theory
- Frederick Herzberg two-factor theory
- Theory X and Theory Y Douglas McGregor proposed that there are two perspectives managers can take concerning their subordinates that will influence how those subordinates will behave. The "Theory X" perspective is that employees are basically lazy and will not work unless they are closely supervised and forced. "Theory Y", on the other hand, assumes that employees are self-energized, committed, responsible and creative beings.
National culture can have effects on the behavior of employees in organizations. This is exemplified by Geert Hofstede's Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory. In an ongoing research program, Hofstede has surveyed a large number of cultures and identified six dimensions of national culture that effect the behavior of individuals in organizations:
- Power Distance
- Uncertainty Avoidance
- Long Term Orientation
Organizational citizenship behavior
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 unlikely that these values or behaviors would be rejected.
Personality has to do with individual differences among employees in behavior patterns, cognition and emotion. The study of personality in organizations has generally focused on specific traits and their relationship to other variables. One of the most popular approaches to the study of personality is from the framework of Big Five personality traits or Five Factor Model that describes personality in five dimensions.
Chester Barnard recognized that individuals behave differently when acting in their organizational role than when acting separately from the organization. Work-family conflict is when the demands of family and work are in some way incompatible so that doing one interferes with doing 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.
Bureaucracy is most commonly attributed to Max Weber. Weber argued that bureaucracy was the application of rational-legal authority to the organisation of work: through the application of rationality, bureaucracy was the most technically efficient form of organisation. Charles Perrow has extended this work, showing the continuing application of bureaucratic concepts to the study of organisations. Perrow argues that all organizations can be understood in terms of bureaucracy and that organizational failures are more often a result of insufficient application of bureaucratic principals.
Weber's principals of bureaucratic organisation:
- A formal organizational hierarchy
- Management by rules
- Organization by functional speciality 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 to apply the same rules and structures to all people
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
The systems framework is also fundamental to organizational theory as organizations are complex dynamic goal-oriented processes. One of the early thinkers in the field was Alexander Bogdanov, who developed his Tectology, a theory widely considered a precursor of Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory, aiming to model and design human organizations. Kurt Lewin was particularly influential in developing the systems perspective within organizational theory and coined the term "systems of ideology", from his frustration with behavioural psychologies that became an obstacle to sustainable work in psychology (see Ash 1992: 198-207). The complexity theory perspective on organizations is another systems view of organizations. German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927 - 1998) developed a sociological system theory and describes organisations - alongside interactions and society - as one of three main entities.
The systems approach to organizations relies heavily upon achieving negative entropy through openness and feedback. A systemic view on organizations is transdisciplinary and integrative. In other words, it transcends the perspectives of individual disciplines, integrating them on the basis of a common "code", or more exactly, on the basis of the formal apparatus provided by systems theory. The systems approach gives primacy to the interrelationships, not to the elements of the system. It is from these dynamic interrelationships that new properties of the system emerge. In recent years, systems thinking has been developed to provide techniques for studying systems in holistic ways to supplement traditional reductionistic methods. In this more recent tradition, systems theory in organizational studies is considered by some as a humanistic extension of the natural sciences.
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