What is organizational behaviour?
• reflect on the best and worst employee you have worked with
• what makes them act the way they do?
• understand why the employee is bad so that you can understand and find ways to
make his work experience better (can improve attitudes and behaviour)
• by screening applicants better, training and socializing, manage evaluations and
reward good employees and deal with conflicts
Best Worker Characteristics
• got the job done without being reminded
• helps staff
• follows rules
• has a positive attitude
• able to accept and adapt to change
Worst Worker Characteristics
• constantly being reminded to perform task
• in a bad mood
• never willing to help others
• broke rules
• resistant to any form of change
Organizational behaviour defined
Organizational behaviour (OB) is a field of study devoted to understanding, explaining
and improving the behaviour and attitudes of individuals and groups in an organization.
Organizational behaviour can be contrasted with two other courses commonly offered in
Human Resource Management is a field of study that focuses on the applications of
organizational behaviour theories and principles in an organization. An organizational
behaviour study might explore the relationship between learning and job performance,
whereas a human resource management study might examine the best ways to structure
training programs to promote employee learning.
Strategic management is a field of study devoted to exploring the product choices and
industry characteristics that affect an organization's profitability. For example, a strategic
management study might examine the relationship between firm diversification (when a
firm expands into a new product segment) and firm profitability.
The theories and concepts found in OB are actually drawn from a wide variety of
disciplines. Research on job performance and individual characteristics draws primarily from studies in industrial and organizational psychology. Research on satisfaction,
emotions, and team processes draws heavily from social psychology. Sociology research
is vital to research on team characteristics and organizational structure, and anthropology
research helps inform the study of organizational culture. Finally, models from
economics are used to understand motivation, learning, and decision making. This
diversity brings a unique quality to the study of OB, as most students will be able to find
a particular topic that is intrinsically interesting and thought provoking to them.
The Role of Management Theory
Frederick Taylor and Max Weber, placed heavy emphasis on specialization, coordination,
Frederick Taylor, the “father” of scientific management (using scientific methods to
design optimal and efficient work processes and tasks). Using scientific methods (e.g.
careful observation, measurement, experimentation), Taylor and his colleagues would
study how to optimize performance of any task (e.g., by reducing the number of hand
movements exhibited by bricklayers, and thus reducing fatigue, more bricks could be laid
in a given time period). Once determined, these new work procedures would be taught to
workers and encouraged with financial incentives.
Max Weber, most often associated with the term bureaucracy (organizational form that
emphasizes the control and coordination of its members through strict chain of command
etc). Rather than focus on specific work processes, Weber looked at the entire
organization. For Weber, the bureaucratic form was a technically superior method of
organizing, coordinating, and controlling human work activities. Characteristics of
bureaucracy included: (a) the division of labour with a high level of technical
specialization; (b) a strict chain of command (authority hierarchy) where every member
reported to someone at a higher level in the organization; (c) a system of formal rules and
procedures that ensured consistency, impartiality, and impersonality throughout the
organization; and (d) decision making at the top of the organization. For the classical
theorists, productivity problems, if and when they occurred, were likely viewed at the job
level as the result of design flaws, failures to implement specified processes, or
inadequate working conditions (e.g., illumination, not enough work breaks), and at the
organizational level as the result of deficient structural characteristics.
Classical approach stressed importance of the formal organization and its functioning, the
human relations movement as they recognized that psychological attributes of individual
workers have an important effect on behaviour. A famous serious of studies, conducted
between 1924 and 1933 at the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne plant, revealed the
limitations with the classic approach to management and organization.4 Originally these
studies were designed to resolve the organization's productivity problems by applying
popular scientific-management techniques. The irony, of course, is that a classical-
approach application produced the foundation on which the human relations movement
was built. The Hawthorne studies, although crude in comparison to the organizational
research being conducted today, revealed the importance of many of the topics we
discuss in this text, such as group values and norms, leadership, motivation, job satisfaction, and organizational culture. For the human relations theorists, productivity
problems, if and when they occurred were likely viewed as the result of worker alienation
from the organization, failure of the work to satisfy important personal needs or goals,
low organizational commitment, or work-group norms encouraging low rather than high
performance—in other words, very little causal emphasis on the characteristics of formal
Today, contemporary management theory recognizes the dependencies between the
classical approach and the human relations approach. We see this contingency approach
reflected in a number of the theories and models of OB where the consequences of
situational characteristics (e.g., financial incentives, job design, assigned goals) are
thought to depend on characteristics of the individual or visa versa. Fundamental to the
contingency approach is the idea that there is no one-best, universal principles. The same
is true for OB. As you will see, OB—in all its forms—is the result of many different
kinds of variables coming together.
An Integrative Model of Organizational behaviour
- Job Performance and Organizational commitment
- Most employees have two primary goals for their working lives: to perform their jobs
well and to remain members of an organization that they respect.
- Likewise, most managers have two primary goals for their employees: to maximize
their job performance and to ensure that they stay with the firm for a significant length of
- Our integrative model also illustrates a number of individual mechanisms that directly
affect job performance and organizational commitment.
- These include job satisfaction, which captures what employees feel when thinking about
their jobs and doing their day-to-day work.
- Another individual mechanism is stress, which reflects employees' psychological
responses to job demands that tax or exceed their capacities.
- The model also includes motivation, which captures the energetic forces that drive
employees' work effort.
- Trust, justice, and ethics reflect the degree to which employees feel that their company
conducts business with fairness, honesty, and integrity.
- The final individual mechanism shown in the model is learning and decision
making, which deals with how employees gain job knowledge and how they use that
knowledge to make accurate judgments on the job.
Individual, Group, and Organizational Context
Of course, if satisfaction, stress, motivation, and so forth are key drivers of job performance and
organizational commitment, it becomes important to understand that these mechanisms are
influenced by several important contexts. Each of us brings a unique set of personal attributes to
our work that not only makes us unique as humans but also provides an individual context that
explains behaviour. In this section we explore how personal attributes, such as personality, cultural values, and ability, influence how we behave at work and the kinds of tasks that interest
us, and might account for our responses to events that happen on the job (Chapter 9). The
integrative model in Figure 1-1 also acknowledges that employees do not work alone. Instead,
they typically work in one or more groups or teams led by some formal (or sometimes informal)
leader. Like the individual characteristics, these group factors shape satisfaction, stress,
motivation, trust, and learning. Chapter 10 describes team characteristics and processes. In this
chapter we explore the structure of effective work groups, such as their norms, their roles, and