December 4, 2011

Introduction to Organizational Behavior - Review Notes

Introduction to Organizational Behavior




Managing the people, or the human resources of an organization is a major challenge in managing organizations. People are the key to working of an organization. Today human resources are recognized as capital by the terms human capital and intellectual capital.

The academic field or subject of organizational behavior may be only 30 years old. But the problems of organizing people existed for a long time. The Old Testament (Exodus 18:13-27) describes the predicament of Moses and the solution given by Jethro his father-in-law regarding resolving day-to-day problems and strategic problems of people through an organizational set up. Day-to-day problems are solved by certain people and Moses is expected to handle environment, set policy for solving day-to-day problems.

Management is considered to have three major dimensions - technical, conceptual and human. Organizational behavior is a subject that examines behavior of human beings in organizations and it is of help in developing knowledge and skills in the human dimension of management.

Douglas McGregor identified that certain managers assume a set of assumptions regarding people in their work situations. These assumptions include the ideas that employers were basically lazy, are interested in earning money only and if you could make them happy through giving money they would be high performers. But McGregor also found that they are managers who follow different set of assumptions. Employees under those managers were more happy and committed and also more productive. This set of assumptions are called as Theory Y. Organizational behavior, a subject developed out of Hawthorne studies, now has outlined high performance work practices of organizations in the area of human resources. But only one eighth of organizations of are using these practices.

Stanford Professor Jeff Pfeffer, gave the opinion that only half of the managers really believe that human resources are important and they have to be taken proper care of. Only about half of who believe about the importance of human resources take practical steps to implement their concern. And then only half of the managers who start implementing the organizational behavior prescriptions manage the implementation adequately and stick with the practices for a long time and institutionalize them. Thus only about one-eighth of managers are practising high performance human resource related work practices.

Organizational behavior is related to subjects titled as Organization Theory (OT), Organization Development (OD), and Human Resource Management (HRD).

Organization behavior can be defined as the understanding, prediction, and management of human behavior in organizations. (Luthans).

All managers, regardless of their technical function, are human resource managers as they will deals with humans and human behavior in organizations. All managers need to have an understanding of theories of organizational behavior.

Organizational behavior represents the human side of management and there are other sides to running an organization. Processes of production and marketing, information systems etc. are some of them. All the behavioral sciences (anthropology, sociology, and especially psychology) make a significant contribution to the discipline. But organizational psychology and organizational behavior are two different subjects. Organizational structure and management processes are not part of organizational psychology.

The texts on organizational behavior attempt to provide the specific, necessary background, and skills to make the managers effective with human dimension of management.




Theoretical Frameworks or Perspectives in Psychology



Initially psychology was developed using the mental thinking expressed by persons interested in developing the subject of psychology. But John B. Watson differed from that approach and he pioneered the approach in which visible behavior and visible environmental stimulus became the subject of study. B.F. Skinner developed this behavioristic framework further by bringing in the contingent environmental consequences. Behavior is not the outcome of stimulus alone, but it is an outcome determined by the stimulus as well as the contingent environmental consequences of a behavior. This means, there are alternative behaviors for the same stimulus and which behavior is exhibited by a person depends on expected environmental consequences.

Cognitive perspective on psychology have developed by arguing that human beings are capable of thinking and concepts related to thinking must be brought into the subject of psychology whose objective is to explain behavior. Even though, one cannot see or observe thinking, still developing concepts related to thinking and using the concepts to explain behavior is required in psychology. Even though one cannot see or observe gravitation, the concept of gravitation is a useful concept in physics. Similarly, concepts related to thinking or cognition are to be developed and used in psychology was the argument of propopents of congitive approach to psychology.

The perspectives in psychology have influenced the development of organizational behavior.

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