Organizational behavior

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"Organization Studies" redirects here. For the academic journal, see Organization Studies (journal). For the academic field, see Organizational studies.

Organizational behavior (OB) or organisational behaviour is "the study of human behavior in organizational settings, the interface between human behavior and the organization, and the organization itself."[1] OB research can be categorized in at least three ways, including the study of (a) individuals in organizations (micro-level), (b) work groups (meso-level), and (c) how organizations behave (macro-level).[2]

Overview[edit]

Chester Barnard recognized that individuals behave differently when acting in their organizational role than when acting separately from the organization.[3] Organizational behavior researchers study the behavior of individuals primarily in their organizational roles. One of the main goals of organizational behavior is "to revitalize organizational theory and develop a better conceptualization of organizational life".[4]

Relation to industrial and organizational psychology[edit]

Miner (2006) pointed out that "there is a certain arbitrariness" 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.[5] 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.[6]

History[edit]

As a multi-disciplinary field, organizational behavior has been influenced by developments in a number of allied disciplines including sociology, industrial/organizational psychology, and economics as well as by the experience of practitioners.

The Industrial Revolution is the period from approximately 1760 when new technologies resulted in the adoption of new manufacturing techniques, including increased mechanisation. Max Weber, with his famous iron cage metaphor, raised concerns regarding the waning of the religious and vocational significance of work, and the rise of a thorough-going efficiency that has made the system of working arrangements a kind of prison, stripping the worker of his or her individuality.[7] The industrial revolution led to significant social and cultural change, including new forms of organization. In analyzing one of these new organizational forms, Weber described bureaucracy as an organization that rested on rational-legal principles and maximized technical efficiency.[8]

A number of practitioners documented their ideas on management and organisation. Perhaps the best known today are Henri Fayol, Chester Barnard, and Mary Parker Follet. Each developed a theory of organization and management, drawn from their experience. These theories all include the idea that human behaviour and motivation are essential for understanding how to effectively manage an organization.[3][9][10]

One of the first management consultants, Frederick Taylor was an engineer who applied engineering principles for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of workers. Taylor advocated the scientific study of work tasks to identify the most efficient way of performing the task – an approach known as scientific management in the late 19th century.[11] Lillian Gilbreth and Frank Gilbreth extended Taylor's ideas to develop the time and motion study to further improve worker efficiency.[12] In the early 20th century, idea of Fordism – named for Henry Ford – emerged. It relied on the standardisation of products and the use of assembly lines, allowing unskilled workers to operate efficiently. Sorenson made clear the Fordism developed independently of Taylor.[13] Fordism can be seen as the application of bureaucratic and scientific management principles to the entire manufacturing process. The success of both scientific management and Fordism in general led to the widespread adoption of assembly lines and the use of scientific methods to improve the productivity of workers.

In the 1920s, the Hawthorne Works, a Western Electric factory, commissioned the first of what was to become known as the Hawthorne Studies. These studies began in the tradition of scientific management, investigating whether workers would be more productive with higher or lower lighting levels. The results showed that regardless of the lighting levels, the worker's productivity increased; when the studies ended, productivity declined. Further studies adjusted a range of environmental conditions, all of which resulted in a short-lived increase in productivity. The cause of the so-called Hawthorne Effect is widely debated, but the results led Elton Mayo to conclude that job performance was dependent on social relationships as well as job content.[14] One consequence of the Hawthorne Studies was an increased focus on motivation in organizations. A range of theories of motivation in organizations emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, including the theories of Frederick Herzberg, Abraham Maslow, David McClelland, Victor Vroom, and Douglas McGregor. These theories underlined what motivated individuals to work in organizations and how to improve both employees' work performance and job satisfaction.[5]

Herbert Simon's Administrative Behavior introduced a number of important concepts into OB, most notably decision-making. Simon - along with Chester Barnard - argued that people make decisions differently inside an organization than outside of it. While classical economic theories assume that people are rational decision-makers, Simon argued that limits on cognition mean that decisions are ordinarily made in accordance with the idea of bounded rationality. Decision-makers employ satisficing, the concept of finding a solution that is acceptable, rather than optimal.[15] Simon was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on organizational decision-making.[16]

In the 1960s and 1970s, the field became more quantitative, and resource dependence. Contingency theory, institutional theory, and organizational ecology also emerged.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Current state of the field[edit]

Research in and the teaching of OB primarily takes place in university management departments in colleges of business. Sometimes OB topics are taught in industrial and organizational psychology graduate programs.

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.[1] Leadership studies have also become part of OB.[citation needed] OB researchers have shown increased interest in ethics and its importance in an organization.[citation needed] Some OB researchers have become interested in the aesthetic sphere of organizations.[17]

Research methods used[edit]

A variety of methods are used in organizational behavior, many of which are found in other social sciences.

Quantitative methods[edit]

Main article: Quantitative research

Statistical methods used in OB research commonly include correlation, analysis of variance, meta-analysis, multilevel modeling, multiple regression, structural equation modeling, and time series analysis[18][19]

Computer simulation[edit]

Computer simulation is a prominent method in organizational behavior.[20] 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[21] such as the thought processes and behaviors that make up teamwork.[22]

Qualitative methods[edit]

Main article: Qualitative research

Qualitative research[18] 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: ethnography, case studies, historical methods, and interviews.

Topics[edit]

Counterproductive work behavior[edit]

Counterproductive work behavior consists of behavior by employees that harm or intended to harm organizations and people in organizations.[23]

Decision-making[edit]

Main article: Decision-making

Many OB researchers embrace the rational planning model.[citation needed] Research often centers on normative decision-making (concerned with how decision is ordinarily made), descriptive decision-making (concerned with how a thinker arrives at a judgment), and prescriptive decision-making (aims to improve decision-making).[citation needed]

Employee mistreatment[edit]

There are several types of mistreatment that employees endure in organizations including abusive supervision, bullying, incivility, and sexual harassment.

Abusive supervision[edit]

Main article: Abusive supervision

Abusive supervision is the extent to which a supervisor engages in a pattern of behavior that harms subordinates.[24]

Bullying[edit]

Main article: Workplace bullying

Although definitions of workplace bullying vary, it involves a repeated pattern of harmful behaviors directed towards an individual.[25] 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.

Incivility[edit]

Main article: Workplace incivility

Workplace incivility consists of low-intensity discourteous and rude behavior with ambiguous intent to harm that violates norms governing appropriate workplace behavior.[26]

Sexual harassment[edit]

Main article: Sexual harassment

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.[27]

Teams[edit]

Main article: Team

Job-related attitudes and emotions[edit]

Organizational behavior deals with employee attitudes and feelings, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and emotional labor. Job satisfaction reflects the feelings an employee has about his or her job or facets of the job, such as pay or supervision.[28] Organizational commitment represents the extent to which employees feel attached to their organization.[29] Emotional labor concerns the requirement that an employee display certain emotions, such smiling at customers, even when the employee does not feel the emotion he or she is required to display.[30]

Leadership[edit]

Main article: Leadership

There have been a number of theories that concern leadership. Early theories focused on characteristics of leaders, while later theories focused on leader behavior, and conditions under which leaders can be effective. Among these approaches are contingency theory, the consideration and initiating structure model, leader-member exchange or LMX theory, path-goal theory, and transformational leadership theory.

Contingency theory indicates that good leadership depends on characteristics of the leader and the situation.[31] The Ohio State Leadership Studies identified dimensions of leadership known as consideration (showing concern and respect for subordinates) and initiating structure (assigning tasks and setting performance goals).[32][33] LMX theory focuses on exchange relationships between individual supervisor-subordinate pairs.[34] Path-goal theory is a contingency theory linking appropriate leader style to organizational conditions and subordinate personality.[35] Transformational leadership theory concerns the behaviors leaders engage in that inspire high levels of motivation and performance in followers. The idea of charismatic leadership is part of transformational leadership theory.[36]

Managerial roles[edit]

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.[37]

Motivation[edit]

Baron and Greenberg (2008)[38] 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, including equity theory,[39] expectancy theory,[40] Maslow's hierarchy of needs,[41] incentive theory, organizational justice theory,[42] Herzberg's two-factor theory,[43] and Theory X and Theory Y.[44]

National culture[edit]

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.[45] These dimensions include power distance, individualism vs. collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity vs. femininity, long-term orientation vs. short term orientation, and indulgence vs. restraint.

Organizational citizenship behavior[edit]

Organizational citizenship behavior is behavior that goes beyond assigned tasks and contributes to the well-being of organizations.[46]

Organizational culture[edit]

Organizational culture reflects the values and behaviors that are commonly observed in an organization. Investigators who pursue this line of research assume that organizations can be characterized by cultural dimensions such as beliefs, values, rituals, symbols, and so forth.[47] Researchers have developed models for understanding an organization's culture or developed typologies of organizational culture. Edgar Schein developed a model for understanding organizational culture. He identified three levels of organizational culture: (a) artifacts and behaviors, (b) espoused values, and (c) shared basic assumptions. Specific cultures have been related to organizational performance[48] and effectiveness.[49]

Personality[edit]

Main article: Personality

Personality concerns consistent patterns of behavior, cognition, and emotion in individuals.[50] 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.

Occupational stress[edit]

Main article: Occupational stress

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.[51]

Work-family[edit]

Main article: Work-family conflict

Chester Barnard recognized that individuals behave differently when acting in their work role than when acting in roles outside their work role.[3] 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.[52]

Organization theory[edit]

Main article: Organization theory

Organization theory is concerned with explaining the workings of an organization as a whole or of many organizations. The focus of organizational theory is to understand the structure and processes of organizations and how organizations interact with each other and the larger society.[citation needed]

Bureaucracy[edit]

Main article: Bureaucracy

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.[8] Weber enumerated a number of principles of bureaucratic organization including: a formal organizational hierarchy, management by rules, organization by functional specialty, 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, and a purposefully impersonal environment (e.g., applying the same rules and structures to all members of the organization). These rules reflect Weberian "ideal types," and how they are enacted in organizations varies according to local conditions. 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.[53]

Economic theories of organization[edit]

At least three theories are relevant here, theory of the firm, transaction cost economics, and agency theory.

Theories pertaining to organizational structures[edit]

Theories pertaining to organizational structures and dynamics include complexity theory, French and Raven's five bases of power,[54] hybrid organization theory, informal organizational theory, resource dependence theory, and Mintzberg's organigraph.

Institutional theory[edit]

Main article: Institutional theory

Systems theory[edit]

Main article: Systems theory

The systems framework is also fundamental to organizational theory. Organizations are complex, goal-oriented entities.[55] 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.[56] Niklas Luhmann, a sociologist, developed a sociological systems theory.

Organizational ecology[edit]

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.

Scientific management[edit]

Main article: Scientific management

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.

Contributing disciplines[edit]

Journals[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Ash, M.G. (1992). "Cultural Contexts and Scientific Change in Psychology: Kurt Lewin in Iowa". American Psychologist. 47 (2): 198–207. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.47.2.198. 
  • Hatch, M.J. (2006), "Organization Theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives." 2nd Ed. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-926021-4.
  • Helge H, Sheehan MJ, Cooper CL, Einarsen S "Organisational Effects of Workplace Bullying" in Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2010)
  • Jones, Ishmael (2008), The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. New York: Encounter Books ISBN 978-1-59403-382-7.
  • Richmond, Lewis (2000), Work as a Spiritual Practice: A Practical Buddhist Approach to Inner Growth and Satisfaction on the Job, Broadway
  • Robbins, Stephen P. (2004) Organizational Behavior - Concepts, Controversies, Applications. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-170901-1.
  • Robbins, S. P. (2003). Organisational behaviour: global and Southern African perspectives. Cape Town, Pearson Education South Africa.
  • Salin D, Helge H "Organizational Causes of Workplace Bullying" in Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2010)
  • Scott, W. Richard (2007). Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems Perspectives. Pearson Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-195893-3.
  • Weick, Karl E. (1979). The Social Psychology of Organizing 2nd Ed. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-554808-9.
  • Simon, Herbert A. (1997) Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations, 4th ed., The Free Press.
  • Tompkins, Jonathan R. (2005) "Organization Theory and Public Management".Thompson Wadsworth ISBN 978-0-534-17468-2
  • Kanigel, R. (1997). The One Best Way, Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency. London: Brown and Co.
  • Morgan, Gareth (1986) Images of Organization Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications