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Appendix – Research in Organizational Behaviour
•Research is a way of finding out about the world through objective and systematic
information gathering (w/o the use of opinion and common sense).
•Knowledge and understanding of OB research will:
oAllow you to use a critical perspective in order to differentiate carefully
designed and evaluated OB interventions (e.g., job redesign, employee
development programs) from useless ones.
oEnable managers to make better decisions through evidence-based
Evidence-based management: Involves translating principles
based on the best scientific evidence into organizational practices.
Compared to decisions made based on personal preference and
unsystematic experience, the use of evidence-based management is
more likely to result in the attainment of organizational goals.
The Basics of Organizational Behaviour Research
•All research in OB begins with a question about work or organizations.
•Hypothesis: A formal statement of the expected relationship between two
oE.g., The introduction of a small attendance bonus will reduce absenteeism.
•Variables: Measures that can take on two or more values.
oE.g., A variable with two values (bonus versus no bonus) is related to one
that can take on many values (days of absenteeism).
Types of Variables
•Independent Variable: The variable that predicts or is the cause of variation in a
•Dependent Variable: The variable that is expected to vary as a result of changes
to the independent variable.
oE.g., The independent variable is the attendance bonus and the dependent
variable is absenteeism.
•Moderating Variable: A variable that affects the nature of the relationship
between an independent and a dependent variable such that the relationship
depends on the level of the moderating variable. Indicates when an independent
variable is most likely to be related to a dependent variable.
oE.g., Pay satisfaction would moderate the effect of an attendance bonus on
absenteeism if the bonus only reduces the absenteeism of employees who are
not satisfied with their pay and has no effect on the absenteeism of employees
who are satisfied with their pay.
•Mediating Variable: A variable that intervenes or explains the relationship
between an independent and a dependent variable.
oE.g., Motivation intervenes or mediates the relationship between the
attendance bonus and absenteeism because the bonus increases people’s
motivation to come to work.
Measurement of Variables
•Reliability: An index of the consistency of a research subject’s responses.
oE.g., If you ask someone several questions about how fair his/her pay is, the
person should respond roughly the same way to each question.
•Validity: An index of the extent to which a measure truly reflects what it is
supposed to measure.
oE.g., A good measure of perceived pay fairness should not be influence by
employees’ feelings of fairness about other workplace factors, such as
supervision. People who are objectively underpaid should report high pay
unfairness and report increased fairness if their pay were increased.
•Convergent Validity: When there is a strong relationship between different
measures of the same variable.
oE.g., A measure of job satisfaction should be highly correlated to other
measures of job satisfaction.
•Discriminant Validity: When there is a weak relationship between measures of
oE.g., A measure of job satisfaction should not be strongly related to measures
of job performance.
•Good measures should be strongly related to different measures of the same variable
(convergent) and should not be related to measures of different variables
•Observational Research Techniques: Research that examines the natural
activities of people in an organizational setting by listening to what they say and
watching what they do.
•Systematic characteristic: The researcher approaches the organizational setting with
extensive training concerning the nature of human behaviour and a particular set of
questions that the observation is designed to answer. This provides a systematic
•Objective characteristic: The researcher keeps a careful ongoing record of the events
that he/she observes, either as they occur or as soon as possible afterwards. He/she
understands the dangers of influencing the behaviour of those whom he/she is
observing and is trained to draw reasonable conclusions from his/her observations.
This ensures objectivity.
•A case study summarizes observational research outcomes and specifies the nature
of the organization, people and events studied, the particular role of and techniques
used by the observer, the research questions, and the events observed.
•Participant Observation: Observational research in which the researcher
becomes a functioning member of the organizational unit being studied.
•Advantages: Sometimes there is no substitute for experience, potential for secrecy
(subject do not need to know they are being observed).