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Chapter 8

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Psychology 2660A/B
Natalie J Allen

Chapter 8: Organizations and Organizational Change  Metaphor of equating an organization with a person – except organizations don’t have defined boundaries as we do with our skin Three theories of organizations  Organizations – collectivities of parts that cannot accomplish their goals as effectively if they operated separately o A coordinated group of people who perform tasks to produce goods or services  Classical theory o Classical theory of organizations – describes the form and structures of organizations o Four basic components to any organizations: 1. A system of differentiated activities – a formal org emerges when these activities are linked together 2. People – perform tasks and exercise authority 3. Cooperation around a goal – must exist among the people to achieve a unity of purpose in pursuit of their common goals 4. Authority – established through superior-subordinate relationships o Functional principle – the concept that organizations should be divided into units that perform similar functions  Accounts for the grouping of work functions into units like production, sales, engineering, finance, etc  Relates to the horizontal growth of the organizations – the formation of new functional units along the horizontal dimension o Scalar principle – concept that organizations are structured by a chain of command that grows with increasing levels of authority  Deals with vertical growth; hierarchy  Unity of command – each subordinate should be accountable to only one supervisor o Line/Staff principle – concept of differentiating organizational work into primary and support functions  Line functions – org work that directly meets the major goals of an organization (like manufacturing the product  Staff functions – org work that supports line activities (like personnel and quality control) o Span-of-Control principle – refers to the number of subordinates a manager is responsible for supervising  “Small” span-of-control = 2 subordinates – tall organizations (many levels of hierarchy)  “Large” span-of-control = ~15 – flat organizations o There is little that is “psychological” about classical theory – influence from psychology came up in neoclassical theory  Neoclassical theory o Neoclassical theory – describes psychological or behavioural issues associated with organizations o Originates in Hawthorne studies o Problems with division of labour  Sense of alienation from highly repetitive work = work dissatisfaction = decreased efficiency o Neoclassicists argued for a less rigid division of labour for more humanistic work in which people derive a sense of value and meaning from their jobs o Although the scalar principle prescribes formal lines of authority, in reality many sources operating in an organization influence the individual o The black and white distinction between line and staff functions aren’t so clear in practice o Span of control is more complex than just picking a number – it depends on the manager’s ability and the intensity of the supervision o Primary contribution of neoclassical theory = to reveal that the principles proposed by classical theory were not universally applicable and simple  Didn’t reject classical theory, but proposed to help it fit into reality  Structural theory o Structure – the arrangement of work functions within an organization designed to achieve efficiency and control o The 7 basic parts of an organization 1. Operating core – those employees responsible for conducting the basic work duties 2. Strategic apex – responsible for the overall success of entire org – brain of the org – executive employees 3. Middle line – those employees with the day-to-day authority for ensuring that the overall goals are being carried out by the operating core – mid-level bosses 4. Technostructure – those employees who possess specific technical expertise – accounting, HR, IT, law 5. Support staff – provides services tht aid the basic mission of the org – mailroom, switchboard, security, janitor  Technostructure and support staff = staff functions  Distinction: members of technostructure give advice – support staff performs services 6. Ideology – a belief system that compels commitment to a particular value – org devotion to a specific mission with everything in pursuit of it – high ideology = strong internal cohesion 7. Politics – opposite effect of ideology – are the seeds of destruction within an org – the total org becomes an arena in which power plays at all levels are considered fair game for enhancing one’s position – decreased likelihood of org fulfilling its primary purpose Components of social systems  Social system – the human components of a work organization that influence the behaviour of individuals and groups o When a social system stops functioning, there is no identifiable structure o Informal component of an organization  Roles o Roles – a set of expectations about appropriate behaviour in a position o Five important aspects of roles  Impersonal – position determines the expectations, not the person  Related to task behaviour  Can be hard to pin down – who determines what’s expected?  Learned quickly and can produce major behaviour changes  Roles and jobs aren’t the same o Role conflict – the product of perceptual differences regarding the content of a person’s role or the relative importance of its elements o Role overload – the conflict experienced in a role as a necessity to compromise either the quantity or quality of performance o Role differentiation – the extent to which different roles are performed by employees in the same subgroup  Norms o Norms – a set of shared group expectations about appropriate behaviour o Unwritten rules that govern behaviour o Important properties:  “oughtness”/”shouldness” – prescriptions for behaviour  Norms are more obvious for behaviour judged to be important for the group  Norms are enforced by the group o 3-step process for developing and communicating norms 1. Define and communicate the norm – explicitly or implicitly 2. Group must be able to monitor behaviour and judge whether the norm is followed 3. Group must be able to reward conformity and punish nonconformity o Compliance is enforced by positive reinforcement or punishment (dirty look, snide remark) o Nonconforming employee = deviant – don’t conform to the groups expectations o If rejected form the group = isolate  Organizational culture o Culture – the language, values, attitudes, beliefs, and customs of an organization o Organizational culture – “the way we do things around here” o Three layers to an organizational culture 1. Observable artifacts – surface-level actions that can be observed from which some deeper meaning can be drawn about the organization; symbols, language, narratives, practices 2. Espoused values – those beliefs/concepts that are specifically endorsed by management like “safety is our top priority”; enacted values are those that are converted into employee behaviour 3. Basic assumptions – unobservable; rarely confronted or debated and are difficult to change o Study: types of clothes worn by hospital staff to understand how the hospital views itself  Found that the matter of dress among the staff was symbolic of their sense of organizational identity  Staff differ in their views on what the dress code should be (scrubs or no scrubs) o Territoriality in organizations through use of name plates on doors and family photos on desks  Establish a sense of individual belonging to that organization o Attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) cycle – people with similar personalities and values are drawn to (attraction) certain organizations and hired into these organizations (selection)  People who don’t fit into the pattern of shared values eventually leave (attrition)  Organizations differ in the modal personality types of their employees o “Psychic prisons” – tendency for organizations to staff themselves and socialize their members in ways that promote a monolithic culture o Competing values framework of organizational culture  Competing cultures – assume their business environment
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