Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior Essay
What Is Organizational Behaviour? An organization decides it will hire people with few skills and job experience. What challenges might its managers face? 1 2 3 4 What is organizational behaviour? Isn’t organizational behaviour common sense? Or just like psychology? How does knowing about organizational behaviour make work and life more understandable? What challenges do managers and employees face in the workplace of the twenty-first century? W innipeg-based Inner City Renovation (ICR) does renovation and construction work on undown inner city residential and commercial buildings, with the aim of revitalizing the area. 1 As part of its mission, the company employs and trains low-income residents of the inner city. ICR is a forprofit company that was created by five not-for-profit joint venture partners: North End Housing Project (NEHP), Winnipeg Partners in Housing (WPH), Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA), West Broadway Development Corporation (WBDC), and Community Ownership Solutions (COS). ICR has completed over 50 residential and commercial projects since opening its doors in August 2002.
Because ICR hires a number of employees who have few skills and little job experience, managers must teach the employees how to perform the role of employee. Managers must also teach employees about teamwork and leadership while working side by side with them on construction projects. Can a company like ICR survive as well as a company not as committed to social values? The challenges that the managers at ICR face in running a successful organization and getting people to work well together illustrate several concepts you will find as you study the field of organizational behaviour.
Let’s take a look, then, at what organizational behaviour is. DEFINING ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR Organizational behaviour (often abbreviated as OB) is a field of study that investigates how individuals, groups, and structure affect and are affected by behaviour within organizations. Behaviour refers to what people do in the organization, how they perform, and what their attitudes are. Because the organizations studied are often business organizations, OB is frequently applied to address workplace issues such as absenteeism, turnover, productivity, motivation, working in groups, and job satisfaction.
Managers often apply the knowledge gained from OB research to help them manage their organizations more effectively. 1 What is organizational behaviour? organizational behaviour A field of study that investigates the impact of individuals, groups, and structure on behaviour within organizations; the aim is to apply such knowledge toward improving organizational effectiveness. OB IS FOR EVERYONE Why do some people do well in organizational settings while others have difficulty? What people-related challenges have you noticed in the workplace? Do you know what a “typical” organization looks like?
Why should you care about understanding other people? 3 Does job satisfaction really make a difference? Are you ready to assume more responsibility at work? 4 Part 1 Understanding the Workplace OB Is for Everyone It may seem natural to think that the study of OB is for leaders and managers of organizations. After all, they often set the agenda for everyone else. However, OB is for everyone. For instance, many employees have informal leadership roles. They are often expected to move beyond simply providing labour to playing a more proactive role in achieving organizational success.
As well, managers are increasingly asking employees to share in their decision-making processes rather than simply follow orders. For instance, employees in some retail stores can make decisions about when to accept returned items on their own, without involving the manager. Thus, in many organizations, the roles of managers and employees have become blurred. 2 OB is not just for managers and employees. Entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals may not act as managers, but they certainly interact with other individuals and organizations as part of their work.
In fact, much of OB is relevant beyond the workplace. OB applies equally well to all situations in which you interact with others. In fact, OB is relevant anywhere that people come together and share experiences, work on goals, or meet to solve problems. The study of OB can shed light on the interactions among family members, the voluntary group that comes together to do something about reviving the downtown area, students working as a team on a class project, the parents Why do some people do well in organizational settings while others have difficulty? Inner City Renovation www. mts. net/~icri/ What is organizational behaviour? It’s a field of study that focuses on three levels of behaviour in organizations. One level is the individual, such as the Wal-Mart greeter handing out smiley balloons. Another level is the group, such as the three employees of Praxair, a distributor of bottled industrial gases, who meet to discuss their work. The third level is structure, which is depicted here by employees working in cubicles at Bloomberg, a financial media company.
Chapter 1 What Is Organizational Behaviour? 5 who sit on the board of their child’s daycare centre, or even the members of a lunchtime pickup basketball team. Throughout the textbook, a feature called OB in the Street will help you understand these broader connections. What Do We Mean by Organization? An organization is a consciously coordinated social unit, made up of a group of people, who work together on common goals on a relatively continuous basis.
Manufacturing and service firms are organizations, and so are schools, hospitals, churches, military units, retail stores, police departments, volunteer organizations, start-ups, and local, provincial, and federal government agencies. Inner City Renovation, which we discussed in the opening vignette, is a for-profit organization, but its partners are nonprofit organizations. Thus, when we say “organization” throughout this textbook, we are referring not only to large manufacturing firms but also to small mom-and-pop stores, as well as to the variety of other forms of organization that exist.
Small businesses make up a significant part of the economy. 3 Businesses that employ no more than 20 people are responsible for about one-quarter of all Canadian jobs. Small businesses employing 50 or fewer people make up 24 percent of Canada’s gross national product. Microbusinesses (companies with 5 or fewer employees managed by an owner/operator, often as sole proprietorships) account for about 8 percent of the employment in this country. The examples in this textbook present various organizations so that you gain a better understanding of the Do you know many types that exist.
Though you might not have conwhat a “typical” sidered this before, the college or university you attend is organization looks every bit as much a “real” organization as is Hudson’s Bay like? Company or Air Canada or the Toronto Raptors. A small, for-profit organization that hires people with limited skills to renovate and build in the inner city of Winnipeg is as much a real organization as is London, Ontario-based EllisDon, one of North America’s largest construction companies. Therefore, the theories we cover should be considered in light of the variety of organizations you may encounter.
We try to point out instances where the theory may be less applicable (or especially applicable) to a particular type of organization. For the most part, however, you should expect that the discussions in this textbook apply across the broad spectrum of organizations. Throughout, we highlight applications to a variety of organizations in our feature OB in the Workplace. organization A consciously coordinated social unit, made up of a group of people, that functions on a relatively continuous basis to achieve common goals. *
OB: MAKING SENSE OF BEHAVIOUR IN ORGANIZATIONS The managers at Inner City Renovation (ICR) quickly noticed that some of their employees had special challenges, such as their unemployment rates, their inconsistent job records, and their low education levels. 4 Managers interviewed employees about their career interests and their needs for skill development. In addition, employees have had one-on-one meetings with the ICR president and the employee support worker. Interviews and meetings are ways to collect data about employee behaviour.
While ICR managers are not researchers, they understand the need for doing some research on their employees. How is OB research carried out, and in what situations does it apply? We have thus far considered why OB can be applied in a variety of settings. In this next section, we consider the other fields of study that have contributed to OB and discuss the fact that OB is a scientific discipline, with careful research that is conducted to test and evaluate theories. 2 Isn’t organizational behaviour common sense? Or just like psychology? 6 Part 1 Understanding the Workplace
The Building Blocks of OB OB is an applied behavioural science that is built upon contributions from a number of behavioural disciplines. The main areas are psychology, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and political science. 5 As we will learn, psychology’s contributions have been mainly at the individual or micro-level of analysis. The other four disciplines have contributed to our understanding of macro concepts, such as group processes and organization. Exhibit 1-1 presents an overview of the major contributions to the study of OB. EXHIBIT 1-1 Toward an OB Discipline
Behavioural science Contribution Unit of analysis Output Psychology Learning Motivation Personality Emotions Perception Training Leadership effectiveness Job satisfaction Individual decision making Performance appraisal Attitude measurement Employee selection Work design Work stress Group dynamics Work teams Communication Power Conflict Intergroup behaviour Formal organization theory Organizational technology Organizational change Organizational culture Behavioural change Attitude change Communication Group processes Group decision making Individual Sociology Group Study of Organizational Behaviour
Social psychology Comparative values Comparative attitudes Cross-cultural analysis Anthropology Organizational culture Organizational environment Organization system Political science Conflict Intraorganizational politics Power Chapter 1 What Is Organizational Behaviour? 7 The Rigour of OB Whether you want to respond to the challenges of the Canadian workplace, which we discuss later in the chapter, manage well, guarantee satisfying and rewarding employment for yourself, or know how to work better in groups and teams, it pays to understand organizational behaviour.
OB provides a systematic approach to the study of behaviour in organizations, as well as groups and teams. Underlying this systematic approach is the belief that behaviour is not random. Thus research studies are conducted and are the basis for all of the claims made in this textbook. OB Looks at Consistencies Certainly there are differences among individuals. Placed in similar situations, people don’t all act exactly alike. However, there are certain fundamental consistencies underlying the behaviour of most individuals that can be identified and then modified to reflect individual differences.
These fundamental consistencies are very important because they allow predictability. For instance, when you get into your car, you make some definite and usually highly accurate predictions about how other people will behave. What may be less obvious is that there are rules (written and unwritten) in almost every setting. Thus, it can be argued that it’s possible to predict behaviour (undoubtedly, not always with 100-percent accuracy) in supermarkets, classrooms, doctors’ offices, elevators, and in most structured situations.
For instance, do you turn around and face the doors when you get into an elevator? Almost everyone does. Is there a sign inside the elevator that tells you to do this? Probably not! Just as we make predictions about drivers, where there are definite rules of the road, so we can make predictions about the behaviour of people in elevators, where there are few written rules. This example supports a major foundation of this textbook: Behaviour is generally predictable, and the systematic study of behaviour is a means to making reasonably accurate predictions. OB Looks Beyond Common Sense
When we use the phrase systematic study, we mean looking at relationships, attempting to attribute causes and effects, and basing our conclusions on scientific evidence— that is, on data gathered under controlled conditions, and measured and interpreted in a reasonably rigorous manner—rather than relying on common sense. OB uses scientific research to uncover how behaviour works in organizations. Exhibit 1-2 on page 8 illustrates the common methods researchers use to study topics in OB. A systematic approach does not mean that those things you have come to believe in an unsystematic way are necessarily incorrect.
Some of the conclusions we make in this textbook, based on solid research findings, will support what you always knew was true. You will also be exposed to research evidence that runs counter to what you might have thought was common sense. In fact, one of the challenges to teaching a subject such as OB is to overcome the notion, held by many, that “it’s all common sense. ”6 You will find that many of the so-called common-sense views you hold about human behaviour are wrong, on closer examination. Moreover, what one person considers common sense frequently runs counter to another’s version.
Are leaders born or made? What is it that motivates people at work nowadays? You probably have answers to such questions, and individuals who have not reviewed the research are likely to differ on their answers. If understanding behaviour were simply common sense, we would not observe many of the problems that occur in the workplace, because managers and employees would know how to behave. For instance, we likely would not see people being bullied in the workplace, managers who don’t know how to manage, and team members who don’t inform teammates when their work is going to be late.
Unfortunately, as you will see from systematic study The examination of behaviour in order to draw conclusions, based on scientific evidence, about causes and effects in relationships. 8 Part 1 Understanding the Workplace EXHIBIT 1-2 Research Methods in OB Field Studies in real-life organizations Meta-Analysis using statistics to pool results of different studies Laboratory Studies in simulated and controlled settings Sources of research insight in OB Survey Studies using questionnaires and interviews in sample populations
Case Studies looking in depth at single situations Source: J. R. Schermerhorn, J. G. Hunt, and R. N. Osborn, Organizational Behavior, 9th ed. , 2005, p. 4. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. examples throughout the textbook, many individuals exhibit less than desirable behaviour in the workplace. With a stronger grounding in the systematic analysis of OB, individuals would be able to avoid some of these mistakes. This chapter’s Point/Counterpoint on page 22 looks at how systematic OB is.
One of the objectives of this textbook is to expose you to a systematic analysis of behaviour, in the belief that such analysis will improve your accuracy in explaining and predicting behaviour. Understanding OB may also help you behave better in organizations and groups as well. For example, after studying OB, you may realize that you should not discuss The Apprentice at 8:00 a. m. in the manager’s office if your manager needs quiet time, is an introvert, and is production-oriented. 7 OB Has Few Absolutes There are few, if any, simple and universal principles that explain OB.
In contrast, the physical sciences—chemistry, astronomy, and physics, for example—have laws that are consistent and apply in a wide range of situations. Such laws allow scientists to generalize about the pull of gravity or to confidently send astronauts into space to repair satellites. However, as one noted behavioural researcher concluded, “God gave all the easy problems to the physicists. ” Human beings are complex. Because we are not alike, our ability to make simple, accurate, and sweeping generalizations is limited. Two people often act differently in the same situation, and the same person’s behaviour changes in different situations.
OB Takes a Contingency Approach Just because people can behave differently at different times does not mean, of course, that we cannot offer reasonably accurate explanations of human behaviour or make Chapter 1 What Is Organizational Behaviour? 9 valid predictions. It does mean, however, that OB must consider behaviour within the context in which it occurs—known as a contingency approach. So, for example, OB scholars would avoid stating that effective leaders should always seek the ideas of their employees before making a decision.
Rather, we may find that in some situations a participative style is clearly superior, but in other situations an autocratic decision style is more effective. In other words, as you will see in Chapter 8, the effectiveness of a particular leadership style depends on the situation in which it is used. The OB scholar would therefore try to describe the situations to which each style is suited. Consistent with the contingency approach, the Point/Counterpoint feature included in each chapter presents debates on some of the more controversial issues in OB. These debates highlight the fact that within OB there is disagreement on many issues.
The Point/Counterpoint format gives you the opportunity to explore different points of view on an issue, discover how diverse perspectives complement and oppose each other, and gain insight into some of the current debates in the OB field. contingency approach An approach taken by OB that considers behaviour within the context in which it occurs. HOW WILL KNOWING OB MAKE A DIFFERENCE? When we talk about the impact of OB in each chapter, we consider the impact on both the workplace and the individual (see our features OB in the Workplace and OB in the Street).
So let’s begin our discussion of OB’s impact by looking broadly at how knowing about OB makes a difference in the workplace, before we look at how OB affects us individually. 3 How does knowing about organizational behaviour make work and life more understandable? In the Workplace From a management point of view, understanding OB can help you manage well. Still, you might wonder whether managing well really makes a difference. Markham, Ontariobased Black Photo Corporation’s president, Rod Smith, learned that not listening to employee demands can have undesirable consequences when he was confronted with a union drive at Black’s.
He notes the difficulties he has experienced in working with a union. “One of the things that you lose when you get unionized is that ability to be compassionate, because the rules are the rules, and they catch people in ways we prefer not to catch them. ”8 Consider another manager’s perspective. Aris Kaplanis, president and CEO of Torontobased Teranet, understands the importance of managing well. In the high-tech industry, where turnover is typically 10 to 20 percent, Teranet’s annual turnover rate is less than 1 percent.
Kaplanis believes that his turnover is low because Teranet developed a corporate culture that is both humane and family-friendly. “My perspective is that the company has two assets—one is the customers, the other is our employees. Both of these assets have to be serviced. ”9 The evidence indicates that managing people well makes for better corporations overall. Exhibit 1-3 on page 10 shows that many of the firms that made the KPMG/Ipsos Reid list of “Most Respected Corporations for Human Resource Management” also scored high on financial performance and best long-term investment value.
Five of the companies placed in the top 10 on both financial measures. Each year, Report on Business (ROB) magazine publishes a list of the “50 Best Employers in Canada. ” The magazine’s 2005 survey identified three main traits of best-loved companies: (1) they show appreciation for their employees, (2) they coach employees to help them move up in the organization, and (3) they have good leaders who present the corporate strategy clearly and consistently. 10 Black Photo Corporation www. blackphoto. com Teranet www. teranet. ca 10 Part 1 Understanding the Workplace
EXHIBIT 1-3 Most Respected Corporations for Human Resource Management (KPMG/Ipsos Reid’s 2005 Survey) Rank on Best Long-Term Investment Value 1 n/a n/a 5 2 4 n/a n/a 7 Location 1. RBC Financial Group 2. WestJet Airlines 3. Dofasco 4. TD Bank Financial Group 5. EnCana Corporation 6. Manulife Financial 7. IBM Canada 8. Toyota Canada 9. BMO Financial Group Toronto Calgary Hamilton, ON Toronto Calgary Toronto Markham, ON Scarborough, ON Toronto Industry Financial Services Air Transportation Steelmaker Financial Services Oil and Gas Financial Services Computers Automotive Financial Services Rank on Financial Performance 1 n/a n/a 6 3 4 n/a n/a 7
Source: KPMG/Ipsos Reid, Eleventh Annual Survey of Canada’s Most Respected Corporations, www. mostrespected. ca/en/documents/CMRC2005En. pdf (accessed May 5, 2006). organizational commitment The degree to which an employee identifies with the organization and wishes to remain with the organization. affective commitment The strength of an individual’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization. While the KPMG/Ipsos Reid survey shows that managing well adds to the bottom line, the ROB survey shows more directly that managing well provides managers with day-today returns.
ROB’s 50 best employers have low turnover, and employees want to stay with their firms—even when they are offered higher-paying jobs by other companies. Employees with the 50 best employers who participated in the ROB survey did not mention money. Instead, they noted that the company recognizes their performance in little ways that make a difference. The message from both surveys is this: Managing people well pays off. Doing so may also lead to greater organizational commitment. We use this term to describe the degree to which an employee identifies with the organization and wishes to maintain membership in the organization. 1 This type of commitment is often called affective commitment, which describes the strength of an individual’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization. Employees who are highly committed go beyond expected behaviours to provide extra service, extra insight, or whatever else is needed to get the job done. There is some concern that extreme organizational commitment can have negative effects, in that employees with strong organizational commitment may behave unethically to protect the organization.
However, this concern should not be a reason to avoid encouraging commitment. One benefit of having committed employees is that they are less resistant to change when organizations need to carry out changes. Finally, managing well may improve organizational citizenship behaviour, a topic we discuss later in the chapter. For You as an Individual You may be wondering exactly how OB applies to you if you are still in school and not yet working. Or you may want to know how OB applies to you if you are planning to run your own business or work for a small nonprofit organization, rather than a large organization.
Or you may be asking yourself how OB applies to you if you are not planning on being a manager. We look at each of these scenarios below to help you see that OB is relevant in a variety of situations. Chapter 1 What Is Organizational Behaviour? 11 “What if I Am ‘Just’ a Student? ” You may think that OB is only useful once you reach the workplace. However, many of the concepts that apply to organizations also apply to teamwork, something many students have to do. As a team member, it’s important to know how personality differences affect the ability of people to work together.
You may need to motivate members of your team. Or you may want to know how to create a more effective team or solve conflict in a team. Individually or as part of a team, you also have decisions to make and need to know how to communicate with others. All of these topics are covered by OB. “What if I Am Not Going to Work in a Large Organization? ” You may think that when we say “organization” we are referring to large financial firms in office towers, to the exclusion of the variety of other forms of organization that exist.
You may be thinking that you want to work in a small business, or in your family’s business, so OB has no relevance for you. But this would be short-sighted. Throughout your life you will work with a variety of organizations, and OB will help you better understand how those organizations work. “What if I Do Not Want to Be a Manager? ” Many of us carry around a simplistic view of work organizations, with the participants divided into set categories: owners, leaders and/or managers, and employees. These distinct roles are found most often in large, publicly held organizations.
Distinct organizational roles become more blurred when we discuss smaller, privately owned firms. When we talk about leadership in organizations, we typically mean the person or persons responsible for setting the overall vision of the organization, although leadership can come from informal sources as well. While managers and leaders have seen their roles expand as a result of factors such as globalization and e-commerce, employees are also being asked to “move beyond their traditional role as inputs to the process of achieving organizational goals. 12 More and more employees are taking on this new role and responsibility. In particular, The Conference Board of Canada says that in highperformance organizations, “Employees are willing to be accountable for their own and the organization’s success. ”13 To be accountable means that employees “take charge of their own careers, decide what skills they need to acquire and determine where they wish to employ these skills. ”14 You may be thinking that you are not planning to work in an organization at all because you would prefer to be self-employed.
While self-employed individuals often do not act as managers, they certainly interact with other individuals and organizations as part of their work. Thus, the study of OB is just as important for the sole proprietor or entrepreneur as for those who work in large organizations. It gives all of us more insight into how to work with others, and how to prepare to become employees in the twenty-first-century workplace. The Conference Board of Canada www. conferenceboard. ca TODAY’S CHALLENGES IN THE CANADIAN WORKPLACE Inner City Renovation (ICR) employees are different from many typical for-profit organizations. 5 Forty-seven percent have not completed high school, 58 percent have criminal records, 79 percent were unemployed before being hired by ICR, and 37 percent had not held a job for more than 2 years. Employees often have had jobs that last only a few days to a month; 26 percent have held 30 jobs or more. The lives of these employees are marked by unstable employment, and thus, within the first year of employment at ICR, 42 percent missed or were not able to work because of domestic or family issues. 12 Part 1 Understanding the Workplace
Because many of its employees lack job experience, ICR needed to establish a culture that would motivate employees to show up for work. Managers recognized the need to create a supportive work environment for its employees. Many of ICR’s employees are Aboriginal peoples who live in the inner city. To better understand the needs of these and its other employees, ICR managers conducted a formal survey of all employees and had a staff retreat near the end of the first year of operation. Because of the large number of Aboriginal peoples employed by ICR, the retreat incorporated certain Aboriginal traditions as part of the event.
All discussions were held in a circle format, and the retreat included a sweat (a ceremony done for meditation and cleansing). In addition, employees had one-on-one meetings with the ICR president and the employee support worker. ICR is a very committed employer. The company wants to change the life circumstances of its employees. What factors affect employee motivation? How can ICR socialize its employees to perform well in their jobs? How can ICR survive in the face of competition while maintaining its goal of employing people with limited skills and job experience? What challenges do managers and employees face in the workplace of the twenty-first century? GM Woes OB considers that organizations are made up of levels, moving up from the individual, to the group, to the entire organizational structure. Each level contributes to the variety of activities that occur in today’s workplace. Exhibit 1-4 presents the three levels of analysis we consider in this textbook, and shows that as we move from the individual level to the organization systems level, we deepen our understanding of behaviour in organizations.
The three basic levels are like building blocks: Each level is constructed upon the previous level. Group concepts grow out of the foundation we lay out in the section on individual behaviour. We then overlay structural constraints on the individual and group in order to arrive at OB. When we look at the different levels in the organization, we recognize that each has challenges that can affect how the levels above and/or below might operate. We consider the challenges at the individual, group, and organizational levels.
This chapter’s CBC Video Case Incident further explores organizational challenges in the twenty-first century. Challenges at the Individual Level At the individual level, managers and employees need to learn how to work with people who may be different from themselves in a variety of dimensions, including personality, perception, values, and attitudes. This point is illustrated by the employee situation at ICR, where employees have a variety of experiences and come from several cultures. Individuals also have different levels of job satisfaction and motivation, and these affect how managers manage employees.
For instance, some of ICR’s employees had drug and alcohol dependencies that affected their motivation and productivity. More organizations expect employees to be empowered and to take on more responsibility than ever before. This expectation puts demands on both managers and employees. ICR initially created three committees where employees could give input on a variety of issues, but the managers were so busy trying to make sure the company met financial goals that they didn’t have time to help the EXHIBIT 1-4 Basic OB Model employees work on these committees.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing individuals (and organizaOrganization systems level tions) is how to behave ethically, as the findings from the Gomery Commission, looking into the $250-million sponsorship scandal of the Liberal party, show. At his sentencing hearing, Jean Brault, found Group level guilty of defrauding the government of $1. 23 million on contracts his company, Montreal-based Groupaction Marketing, obtained Individual level claimed the external pressures he faced led to his actions: “I’m not trying to excuse what I did, but essentially it’s the political demands, the demands on me, that led me to take that first step. 16 Chapter 1 What Is Organizational Behaviour? 13 Individual Differences People enter groups and organizations with certain characteristics that influence their behaviour, the more obvious of these being personality characteristics, perception, values, and attitudes. These characteristics are essentially intact when an individual joins an organization, and for the most part, there is little that those in the organization can do to alter them. Yet they have a very real impact on behaviour. In this light, we look at perception, personality, values, and attitudes, and their impact on individual behaviour in Chapters 2 and 3.
Job Satisfaction Employees are increasingly demanding satisfying jobs. As Does job we discuss in Chapter 3, less satisfaction really than half of Canadian make a difference? employees are very satisfied wit