Human behavior in organizations is complex and often difficult to understand. Organizations have been described as clockworks in which human behavior is logical and rational, but they often seem like snake pits to those who work in them.
The clockwork metaphor reflects an orderly, idealized view of organizational behavior devoid of conflict or dilemma because all the working parts (the people) mesh smoothly. The snake pit metaphor conveys the daily conflict, distress, and struggle in organizations. Each metaphor reflects reality from a different perspective—the organization’s versus the individual’s point of view. These metaphors reflect the complexity of human behavior, the dark side of which is seen in cases of air rage and workplace violence. On the positive side, the Gallup Organization’s Marcus Buckingham suggests that people’s psychological makeup is at the heart of the emotional economy.
This chapter introduces organizational behavior. The first section provides an overview of human behavior in organizations, its interdisciplinary origins, and behavior in times of change. The second section presents an organizational context within which behavior occurs and briefly introduces the six focus companies used selectively in the book. The third section highlights the opportunities that exist in times of change and challenge for people at work.
The fourth section addresses the ways people learn about organizational behavior and explains how the text’s pedagogical features relate to the various learnopportunities ing styles. The final section Favorable times or chances for presents the plan for the progress and advancement. book. change Organizational behavThe transformation or modification ior is individual behavior and of an organization and/or its group dynamics in organizastakeholders. tions. The study of organizational behavior is primarily challenge concerned with the psychoThe call to competition, contest, social, interpersonal, and or battle. behavioral dynamics in orgaorganizational behavior nizations.
Organizational behavior is a blended discipline that has grown out of contributions from numerous earlier fields of study. The sciences of psychology, sociology, engineering, anthropology, management, and medicine have each contributed to our understanding of human behavior in organizations. These interdisciplinary influences have evolved into the independent discipline of organizational behavior. Psychology, the science of human behavior, developed during the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Psychology traces its own origins to philosophy and the science of physiology.
One of the most prominent early psychologists, William James, actually held a degree in medicine (M. D. ). Since its origin, psychology has branched into a number of specialized fields, including clinical, experimental, military, organizational, and social psychology. Organizational psychology frequently overlaps with organizational behavior; for instance, both investigate work motivation.
Johnson & Johnson, Valero Energy, and Chaparral Steel all used Word War I era psychological research for the American military to develop their sophisticated personnel selection methods. Sociology, the science of society, has contributed greatly to our knowledge of group and intergroup dynamics. Because sociology takes society rather than the individual as its point of departure, the sociologists focus on the variety of roles within a society or culture, the norms and standards of behavior in groups, and the consequences of compliant and deviant behavior.
For example, a team of Harvard educators used the concept of role set, a key contribution to Robert Merton’s 1957 role theory, to study the school superintendent role in Massachusetts. More recently, the role set concept has helped explain the effects of codes of ethics in organizations. 8 Engineering is the applied science of energy and matter. It enhances our understanding of the design of work. Frederick Taylor took basic engineering ideas and applied them to human behavior at work, influencing the early study of organizational behavior. 9 With his engineering background, Taylor placed special emphasis on human productivity and efficiency in work behavior. His notions of performance standards and differential
Understanding Human Behavior The vast majority of theories and models of human behavior fall into two basic categories. One category has an internal perspective, and the other, an external perspective. The internal perspective looks at workers’ minds to understand their behavior. It is psychodynamically oriented and its proponents understand human behavior in terms of the thoughts, feelings, past experiences, and needs of the individual. The internal perspective explains people’s actions and behavior in terms of their history and personal value systems.
The internal processes of thinking, feeling, perceiving, and judging lead people to act in specific ways. The internal perspective has given rise to a wide range of motivational and leadership theories. It implies that people are best understood from the inside and that people’s behavior is best interpreted alongside their thoughts and feelings. The external perspective, on the other hand, focuses on factors outside the person to understand behavior. People who subscribe to this view understand human behavior in terms of the external events, consequences, and environmental forces to which a person is subject.
From the external perspective, a person’s history, feelings, thoughts, and personal value systems cannot help interpret actions and behavior. This perspective has given rise to an alternative set of motivational and leadership theories, which are covered in Chapters 5 and 12. The external perspective implies that examining the surrounding external events and environmental forces is the best way to understand behavior. The internal and external perspectives offer alternative explanations for human behavior. For example, the internal perspective might say Mary is an outstanding employee because she has a high eed for achievement, whereas the external perspective might say it is because she is extremely well-paid for her work. Kurt Lewin combined both psychology The science of human behavior. sociology The science of society. engineering The applied science of energy and matter.
Management, originally called administrative science, is the study of overseeing activities and supervising people in organizations. It emphasizes the design, implementation, and management of various administrative and organizational systems. March and Simon take the human organization as their point of departure and investigate administrative practices that enhance the effectiveness of the system. 14 Management is the first discipline to take the modern corporation as the unit of analysis, a viewpoint that distinguishes its contribution to the study of organizational behavior. Medicine is the applied science of healing or treating diseases to enhance an individual’s health and well-being.
Medicine concerns itself with both physical and psychological health, as well as for industrial mental health. 15 As modern care defeats acute diseases, medical attention has shifted to more chronic diseases, like hypertension, and to occupational health and well-being. 16 These trends have contributed to the growth of corporate wellness programs, such as Johnson & Johnson’s “Live for Life Program. ” Skyrocketing health care costs continue to contribute to increased organizational concern with medicine and health care in the workplace.
Outsourcing is a significant change in American industry that has been forced by dramatic advances in the Internet and networking technology. Big changes disrupt people’s habitual behavior and force them to learn new skills. Eric Brown, Alberto Culver’s VP of Global Business Development, offers some sage words of advice to see the opportunity in change. 20 He recommends adapting to change by seeing it as positive and challenge as good rather than bad. His action steps for doing this are to
- have a positive attitude,
- ask questions,
- listen to the answers,
- be committed to success.
However, success is never guaranteed, and change sometimes results in failure. If this happens, do not despair. Some of the world’s greatest leaders, such as Winston Churchill, experienced dramatic failures before they achieved lasting success. Their capacity to learn from the failure and to respond positively to new opportunities helped them overcome early setbacks. One venanthropology ture capitalist with whom The science of the learned behavthe authors have worked ior of human beings. likes to ask those seeking to build a business to tell him management about their greatest failure.
The study of overseeing activities and He wants to hear how the supervising people in organizations. executive responded to the medicine failure and what he or she The applied science of healing or learned from the experitreatment of diseases to enhance ence.
The Organizational Context A complete understanding of organizational behavior requires both an understanding of human behavior and an understanding of the organizational context—that is, the specific setting—within which human behavior is acted out. Just as two different perspectives offer complementary explanations for human behavior, two views shape complementary explanations of organizations.
Organizations are open systems of interacting components, which are people, tasks, technology, and structure. These internal components also interact with components in the organization’s task environment. Open system organizations consist of people, technology, structure, and purpose, all interacting with elements in the organization’s environment. What, exactly, is an organization? Today, the corporation is the dominant organizational form for much of the Western world, but other organizational forms have dominated other societies.
Religious organizations, such as the temple corporations of ancient Mesopotamia and the churches in colonial America, can often dominate society. So can military organizations, like the clans of the Scottish Highlands and the regional armies of the People’s Republic of China. All of these societies are woven together by family organizations, which themselves may vary from task nuclear and extended famiAn organization’s mission, purlies to small, collective compose, or goal for existing. munities.
The purpose people and structure of the reliThe human resources of the gious, military, and family organization. rganizational forms varies, but people within different technology organizations often behave The tools, knowledge, and/or techalike. In fact, early discoverniques used to transform inputs ies about power and leaderinto outputs. ship in work organizations structure were remarkably similar to The systems of communication, findings about power and authority and roles, and workflow. leadership within families.
Organizations may manufacture products, such as aircraft components or steel, or deliver services, for instance, managing money or providing insurance protection. We must first understand the open system components of an organization and the components of its task environment in order to see how the organization functions. Katz and Kahn and Leavitt established open system frameworks for understanding organizations. The four major internal components are task, people, technology, and structure.
The people are the human resources of the organization. The technology is the wide range of tools, knowledge, and/or techniques used to transform the inputs into outputs. The structure is the systems of communication, systems of authority, and the systems of workflow. In addition to these major internal components, the organization as a system also has an external task environment. The task environment is composed of different constituents, such as suppliers, customers, and federal regulators.
Thompson describes the task environment as that element of the environment related to the rganization’s degree of goal attainment; that is, the task environment is composed of those elements of the environment related to the organization’s basic task. Therefore, Caribou must develop a business strategy and approach that considers the actions and activities of Starbucks. The organization system works by taking inputs, converting them into throughputs, and delivering outputs to its task environment.
The open systems view of organization suggests that they are designed like clockwork with a neat, precise, interrelated functioning. the informal organization, which is unofficial and less visible. The Hawthorne studies, conducted during the 1920s and 1930s, first suggested the importance of the informal elements.
Organizational behavior always occurs in the context of a specific organizational setting. Most attempts at explaining or predicting organizational behavior rely heavily on factors within the organization and give less weight to external environmental considerations. 33 Students can benefit from being sensitive to the industrial context of organizations and from developing an appreciation for each organization as a whole. 34 In this vein, we will focus on six organizations throughout the text. Large and small organizations operate in each sector of the economy.
The private sectors play an important role in the economy. The manufacturing sector includes the production of basic materials, such as steel, and the production of finished products, such as automobiles and electronic equipment. The service sector includes transportation, financial services, insurance, and retail sales. The government sectors, which provide essential infrastructure, and nonprofit organizations are also important to our collective well-being because they meet needs that aren’t addressed by other sectors.
Hundreds of small, medium, and large organizations contribute to the economic health and human welfare of the United States. Throughout this book, we provide ex- Informal organization (covert) Beliefs and assumptions Perceptions and attitudes Values Feelings, such as fear, joy, anger, trust, and hope Group norms Informal leaders both. Conflicts erupted in many organizations during the early years of the twentieth century and were embodied in the union–management strife of that era. Sometimes formal–informal conflicts escalated into violence. For example, during the 1920s supervisors at the Homestead Works of U. S. Steel were issued pistols “just in case” they felt it necessary to shoot unruly, dangerous steelworkers. Not all organizations are characterized by such potential formal– informal, management–labor conflict.
During the same era, the progressive Eastman Kodak company helped with financial backing for employees’ neighborhood communities, such as Meadowbrook in Rochester, New York. Kodak’s concern for employees and atThe U. S. economy is the largest in the world, with a gross domestic product tention to informal issues made unions of more than $13. 2 trillion in 2006. nnecessary within the company. The largest sectors are service (41 percent) and product manufacture The informal elements of the organiof nondurable goods (20 percent) and durable goods (8 percent). zation are often points of diagnostic and Taken together, the production of products and the delivery of services intervention activities in organization account for 69 percent of the U. S. economy.
Global competition is a leading force driving change at work. Competition in the United States and world economies has increased significantly during the past few decades, especially in industries such as banking, finance, and air transportation. Corporate competition creates performance and cost pressures, which have a ripple effect on people and their behavior at work. While one risk for employees is the marginalization of part-time professionals, good management practice can ensure their integration. Competition may lead to downsizing and restructuring, but it provides the opportunity for revitalization. Further, small companies don’t necessarily lose in this competitive environment. Scientech, a small power and energy company, needed to enhance its managerial talent and service quality to meet the challenges of growth and big-company competitors.
Product and service quality helps companies win in a competitive environment. IBM, Control Data Services, Inc. , Northwest Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all use problem-solving skills to achieve high-quality products and services. Too much change leads to chaos; too little change leads to stagnation. Change in the coffee industry is a key timulus for both Caribou Coffee and Starbucks as they innovate and improve. Winning in a competitive industry can be a transient victory however; staying ahead of the competition requires constant change. tional behavior. The theories of motivation, leadership, and group behavior based on research in a workforce of one composition may not be applicable in a workforce of a very different composition. This may be especially problematic if ethnic, gender, and/or religious differences lead to conflict between leaders and followers in organizations.