Learning in OB: Importance, Process, Components, Theories, Factors Influencing, Principles

Meaning/Concept of Learning in Organizational Behavior (OB)

Learning is natural act of living creature in which each change personality, performance and behavior. It is the process of acquiring new knowledge, skills and values which relatively changes the behavior of individual. In organization, various people with varieties of skills, knowledge and perception need to work jointly. They learn from each other. Managers, supervisors, lower level employees and even organization should learn. Learning is usually a need based activity. Learning is relatively permanent change in human behavior which can be measured. People can learn through formal or informal programs. In organizational behavior, it is taken as vital process as without learning people resist changes in the organization. This means, to make employees ready to change, learning is essential.


In conclusion, learning is a process of acquiring knowledge, skills or technique through experience, practice or instruction. It changes behavior of individual more permanently. Managers in organization, concern regarding the tendency of individual for learning new knowledge and skills so that they can easily accept any changes in organization. It can be planned or unplanned. Productivity, profitability, quality of work life, modified attitude, acceptable behavior, readiness to change, etc. are consequence of learning. Learning ensures that employees behave, react or respond positively and more formally as per expectation.

Significance or importance of learning in OB

Learning has strategic importance in every organization as it directly related to their survival and prosperity. It is not only important to organization, but equally important to individual as it also serves personal growth. For people, learning changes the behavioral orientations such as knowledge, skills, values, personality and competency. In organizational setting, importance of learning can be justified with the following reasons:

Also read: Individual Behavior: Concept, Input Output System, Determinants , Mental Process

1. Helps to understand and predict human behavior at work

Different roles, skills, and knowledge in the organization are acquired through learning. Managerial skills such as technical, human and conceptual are, however, learned and these skills are paramount for understanding and predicting behaviors of subordinates. Learning is essential to understand how other people behave in organization. This is equally important to middle level and operating level employees.

2. Helps to manage diversity

Diversity in human resources in terms of their gender, socio-economic background, social and national culture, physical abilities, level of skills and knowledge, etc. The issue of diversity has emerged in political as well as legal concern. Such diversities in people at work place create differences in their needs, attitudes, level of motivation and workplace behaviors. Such diversities are most essential to manage to increase productivity or organization and morale of employee. For this, learning is initiated to the managers and workers through training.

Also read: Organizational Behavior (OB): Motivation Theories

3. Helps to adapt changing technology

Frequently changing technology has not only changed the processing of converting input into output but also has affected the patterns of industrial relations. This is being one of the vital sources for resistivity to change. To work with a new technology, we need to learn new skills. Similarly, it is necessary to redefine workplace relations along with decentralization in work system, telecommuting, and virtual teams. Learning is important to manage knowledge workers, computer programmers, computer scientists and other processional workers in organizational settings. Learning boosts up the level of confidence of employees to adapt change. Thus, to initiate change, learning is essential.

4. Helps to maintain TQM

The objective of TQM can be achieved only by involving people concerned with quality management which is possible through adapting new knowledge continuously. In the process of implementing TQM, the role of leader is dominant to involve employees and enhance their sense of ownership and commitment at work. Moreover, in the process of implementing TQM and work processes successfully, behavioral dimensions such as leadership behavior, workplace decentralization, group dynamics, empowerment, communication and interpersonal relations are to be properly implemented. All these things are possible through learning.

Also read: Organizational Behavior: Assumptions, Levels, Challenges and Opportunities, Emerging trends, System/Model, Outcomes  

5. Facilities organizational change and development

Learning facilitates organizational change and development. Some of these forces for organizational change and development are globalization, technology and demographics. Such change compel managers to reconfigure organizations processes. Technological changes in transportation and telecommunication have change job responsibilities and authority. Learning and understanding of such forces will help managers to enhance commitment. Learning is also important for managing planned changes (organizational development) in the organization.

Learning Process in OB

Learning is a process of acquiring skills, knowledge, attitude and behavior. It takes following four stages.

1. Stimulus

In learning process, there should be stimulus to the learner. Stimulus is the source of motivation or incentives. Learner should be clear about stimulus. There will be no learning takes place if there is no stimulus or learner has not understood the stimulus. Such stimulus can be -

  • expansion of knowledge, skills and abilities, 
  • improving quality of work life, 
  • productivity and profitability, 
  • effectiveness, 
  • career advancement, 
  • financial and non financial rewards. 

2. Response

Response is the reaction of learner towards the stimulus. This means, response in learning process is the outcome of first step. To take place the learning, learner should have positive response. Only if learner is convinced for positive changes in behavior, s/he responds positive otherwise negative response. Thus, organization management must encourage employees for learning with ensuring the rewards. Employees should be allowed and encouraged to practice the performance response. 

3. Motivation

Motivation is the drive to encourage individual to learn. Without drive or motivation, learning cannot take place. This provides interest and attitude to learn. Whatever learning and understanding ability of the person, without motivation, none of the person can learn.

Also read: Group in OB: Characteristics, Reasons, Stages, Types, Behavior, Nature, Importance, Issues

4. Rewards

Rewards are incentives satisfying the motive. There should be proper reward system in learning process. It should be transparent and predictive. Employees should know what will be their return or rewards when they learn at different levels. For examples, praise is the incentive which satisfies the motive of social approval. Salary increment is the incentive which satisfies the motive of financial security. Rewards can be financial as well as non financial. 

Components of Learning in OB

Learning becomes complete if it comprises following components:

1. Change in behavior

Learning should change the behavior of people. Such change can be positive or negative, good or bad but organization always seeks positive changes in behavior in employees. Negative behavior like high absenteeism, bad habits, prejudice, stereotype, misbehave to other employees as well as customers, etc. are expected to change by positive behavior. Whatever may be positive or negative, fast or slow, more permanent or relatively permanent, there should be change in learning. 

2. Relatively permanent

To be learning, the behavioral change should be relatively permanent. Temporary change (reflexive) cannot be supposed to be learning. 

3. Experience

To occur learning, some form of experience is necessary. Understanding and familiarity in know-how or concept of work areas are necessary in learning. For example, ability of work based on maturation cannot be considered as learning.

4. Reinforcement

In order to have permanent learning, there should be reinforcement in practice. Learning activities i.e. practices in activities must be regular or at least repeated at minimum possible time. If there is no reinforcement in practice or learning, changes in behavior gradually disappear and the original state my not be seen. 

Major Learning Theories in OB

Research in learning is one of the most popular areas in psychology. Basically, there are four major theories in learning as: Classical conditioning theory, operant conditioning theory, cognitive theory and social learning theory. They are discussed below in detail:

Also read: Organizational Behavior: Concept, Characteristics, Importance, History, Contributing Disciplines  

1. Classical Conditioning theory

Classical conditioning theory is developed by Ivan P. Pavlov (1849-1936), Russian physiologist in the early 1900s. This is called classical because this is the first theory in the area of learning. Pavlov was trying to discover the fact regarding digestive system but he obtained the theory of learning. Later than, he worked out to uncover and establish underlying principles of classical conditioning. 

Classical conditioning theory has introduced a simple cause and effect relationship between stimulus and response. This theory states that learning a conditioned response involves association between conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus. It explains simple reflexive behavior which is unlearned behavior.

Pavlov Experiment with dog

Pavlov established this theory through findings of the experiment with dog. Pavlov presented piece of meat to dog. He noticed salivation in dog and the salivation is increased noticeably. He later, rang the bell without meat but the dog did not salivate. This means ringing bell did not stimulate for salivation. He then, linked ringing bell and serving meat of piece repeatedly. Dog repeatedly heard the bell just getting meat. Dog learnt that when the bell rings he will get meat. Thus, whenever dog hears ringing bell, starts salivating. Later, Pavlov stopped providing meat, but dog salivation on ringing bell. Pavlov described this phenomenon i.e. dog responded with ringing bell. The dog had learned an association between ringing bell and the food. In conclusion, this learning is conditional response involves association between conditioned stimulus (bell), unconditioned stimulus (food), and unconditioned response (salivation).

Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) in the theory represents the particular motivator or trigger to respond automatically or naturally without previous learning. For example, with we talk or see sour food or delicious food, salivation starts through it was not learned. Here sour or delicious food is unconditioned stimulus.

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Unconditioned response (UCR) represents the act or output of unconditioned stimulus. Here, salivating is unconditioned response.

Conditioned stimulus (CS) is a motivating situation caused by unconditioned stimulus. Conditioned stimulus does not emerge automatically as unconditioned stimulus.

Contributions and limitations of classical conditioning

Classical conditioning theory is simple explanation of relation between stimulus and response. This explains that for learned behavior, there should be motivating factor (stimulus). It also makes the reflective or involuntary after the stimulus-response relationship has been established. In many situation, this theory explains the human behaviors.

But, this theory has some important limitations as well. Some of the limitations are as follows:

  • Human behavior and behavior of dogs cannot be similar. 
  • Behavioral environment in organizations is complex in comparison to the experiment conducted by Pavlov. 
  • It does not provide significant part of total human learning. 
  • It explains the passive approach. 
  • Decision making process is complex in nature. Thus, simple conditioning cannot always work. 

2. Operant Conditioning Theory

Operant conditioning theory or model is developed by B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), a psychologist. Skinner suggested that learning of complex human behaviors can be explained or better understood with the help of operant conditioning. Operant conditions are explained for voluntary behaviors. Voluntary behaviors have some influence on the environment or they operate in the environment. Thus, the word operant is coined with operate. This theory can be used to explain complex human behavior.

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Operant conditioning theory states that behavior is function of its consequences. According to this theory, habits can be learnt through reinforcement. After long experiment, Skinner has identified three types of responses or operant that can be follow behavior. He identified neutral operant, reinforcers, and punishers. 

Neutral operant is the responses from environment which neither increases nor decreases the changes for repeating the behavior. 

Reinforcer is the responses from environment which increases the changes for repeating the behavior. Reinforcer can be positive or negative. 

Punisher is the responses from environment which decreases the chances of repeating the behavior. As people do not wish to get punishment, punishment weakens behavior. 

Operant conditioning model, also called Behavior Modification is based on Response-Stimulus. People learn to behave to get something they want or to avoid something they don't want. This means, this theory explains that learning involves reinforcement for desired behavior as a central process in learning. Reinforcement strengthens behavior which increases the probability of repeating the behavior whereas punishment weakens the behavior and reduces the probability of repeating behavior.

Operant conditioning model

This model has following important aspects:

  • A stimulus gives rise to a motive (or drive) which in combination with a habit (S-R connection) arouses a particular behavior.   
  • When the behavior is accompanied by a reward (or reinforcement), it leads to:
    i. satisfaction of the need or motive arousing the behavior (law of effect), and
    ii. strengthening of the habit or S-R connection which enhances the possibility of repetition of behavior when situations are similar and the needs arise. 
  • Obviously, rewarding a particular habit does not merely strengthen that habit but also weakens alternative habits which were not rewarded. 
  • A reward strengthening a habit is designated as learning by instrumental conditioning. 
  • Accordingly, instrumental conditioning can be defined as the learning of a habit or S-R connection through reinforcement or reward. 

Experiment of Operant Conditioning

Skinner conducted experiment with rat and pigeon to conclude the operant conditioning theory. In an experiment with rat, he put rat inside a Skinner Box having lever and feeder to serve food. There was provision that when rat pressure lever with its paws, food pellet is delivered from the feeder. The delivery of food is possible only on the response of pressing the lever. The contingently delivered food pellets act to reinforce the lever-pressing response. Rat repeats the behavior if the reinforcement i.e. food serving with lever pressing. 

Similarly, Skinner conducted two experiments with pigeon. First experiment was with Cutaway, drawing of an operant chamber for pigeon with key pecking. When the pigeon pecks the key, a food tray comes up to the bottom of the food aperture, and the pigeon is allowed to eat for a few seconds. Here, food is the reinforcer. In the second experiment, the key was managed as translucent panel that can be illuminated perhaps in different colors by the key lights. Food tray was also different than the first. Here, pigeon learns with light when it will be reinforce. In all above experiments, behavior are repeated when there will be repetition of rewards. 

Contribution and limitations of operant conditioning theory

This theory is modification in classical conditioning theory as it suggests that the reinforcement helps to repeat the behavior. People learn to behave to get something they want or to avoid something they don't want. This conclusion can importantly be utilized while designing, training and development programs. Redesigning job responsibilities and reward management.

Also read: Communication in OB: Functions, Process, Types, Network, Barriers, Overcoming, Issues

But, in practice, once the respondent gets the stimulus, it will not show the desired behavior. People reflect voluntary behavior which is determined, maintained and controlled by consequences. Human being cannot be fit in Skinner's Box like animal. They can freely interact with external environment. Reinforcement cannot always work positively, it should be given only in correct responses made. 

Different between Classical conditioning and Operant conditioning Model

Classical conditioning
  • A change in stimulus elicits particular response.
  • The strength and frequency of classically conditioned behavior are determined mainly by the frequency of eliciting stimulus. 
  • The stimulus serving as reward is present every time.
  • Responses are fixed to stimulus. 
Operant Conditioning
  • Stimulus serves as a clue for a person to emit the response. 
  • The strength and frequency of operant conditioned behaviors are determined mainly by the consequences. 
  • The reward is presented only if the organism gives the correct response. 
  • Responses are variable both in types and degrees. 

3. Cognitive Mapping Theory

Cognitive mapping theory was established by Edward Tolman (1886-1959), an American psychologist. This theory is primarily based on how events and objects are related to each other. This theory relates two stimuli i.e. describes stimulus-stimulus. Irrespective to classical conditioning and operant conditioning theories, cognitive theory considers the learning as the outcome of deliberate thinking about the problem. 

Cognition is the process of acquiring knowledge. Cognitive is the individual's thought, knowledge, level of understanding and interpretation of any event, object or person. This theory states that learning involves a relationship between cognitive cues (hints about how to choose the right way) and expectations. Learning is the outcome of thinking and knowing.

Also read: Change in OB: Process, Planned and Unplanned, Magnitude, Forces, Resistance, Approaches to Managing

Experiment of cognitive theory

Tolman conducted an experiment with white rat. He first trained rats to run in maze (web) without providing rewards (food). After trained them, he served food as rewards. One day after providing food, the rats are found running faster in this maze. This showed that rats learnt there will be food at the end of race and they used this knowledge in different ways in the following ways. This proves that animals have ability to learn things which they can use later in different ways. This connects cognitive maps in rats.

Tolman explained this phenomenon as individual act on beliefs, as individual act on beliefs, attitudes, changing conditions. They use their knowledge in striving their goals. He believed that individual not only respond to stimuli but does more than responding. 

Following conclusion are made from the experiment:
  • Rats could learn to run through a complicated maze, with purpose and direction, towards attaining a goal. 
  • Rats learn to expect that certain cognitive cues are associated with choice points. These cues can eventually lead to rewards. 
  • Rats, if receive the rewards, the bonding between cue and expectancy can be strengthened and learning takes place. 
  • Latent learning occurs even when no reinforcement is offered. 

4. Social Learning (Behavior Modelling) Theory

Social learning theory was proposed by Albert Bandura in 1977. Bandura states that people can learn from observation, imitation and modelling. This theory believes that behavior is the function of consequence. People respond as on they perceive and understand the outcomes. This theory explains the behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning. For instance; newly appointed employees observe the ways of supervisors and managers and imitate their behavior in organization. Likewise, children can easily copy the dancing steps observing their people dancing or watching television. This model is more applicable in teaching-learning process in school and colleges, training and development in organization, etc. According to this model, the individual learning process consists of following steps:
  • Attentional process: Individual need to pay adequate attention to recognize and understand critical features to learn. Greater the attention on subject matter or event or person, greater chance of learning is observed. 
  • Retention process: Retention process is the act of remembering or retaining information or prior knowledge in learning process. The intensity of retention affects on learning process. 
  • Motor reproduction process: Motor reproduction is the process of further practicing learned behavior. Motor reproduction strengthens and advances the skills through practice. 
  • Reinforcement process: Positive rewards reinforce for the positive behavior. Greater the reinforcement, the reinforced behavior will get more attention, learned better and performed more frequently. 

Features of social learning theory

Social learning theory has three related features as follows:

a. Behavioral modelling

This theory advocates as individual observes the behavior of a role model on the critical task, understands, remembers the important elements of the observed behavior in learning process. During this process, there will be the influence of characteristics of the models, characteristics of the observers, reward association and influence with the behavior. 

b. Learning behavior consequences

Social learning theory also explains that individual learns behavior in other ways than through direct experiences. Individual can also learn by logically thinking through the consequences of our actions and observing the consequences that other people experience following their behavior.

Also read: Organizational Development in OB: Characteristics, Values, Objectives, Goals, Prerequisites, Process, Interventions

c. Self reinforcement

Self reinforcement is the state in which individual controls external reinforcer and continues self induced reinforce for attaining self set goals. For example, if you decide to go abroad only after completing graduation level, you keep on attached with your predetermined goal whatever may be external pressure or opportunities. Some of the employees keep on doing predetermined tasks even there will be new job order from supervisor. This is the position of learning with self determined rewards.

Factors Influencing Learning OB

Learning cannot be in isolation. It is affected by several factors positively or negatively. Following major factors are responsible in influencing learning.

1. Psychological factors

Individual's psychology is one of the most influential factor in learning process. Interests and attention are such psychological factors. These factors are affected by individual needs, goals, beliefs, values, attitudes and perception. If individual is psychologically ready to learn, there will be effective learning. Such factors are under control of individual.

2. Physiological factors

Physiological factors are physical factors like age, health, learning ability, intelligence, fatigue, etc. Physical limitations like underdeveloped mental status, physically deprived, less healthy, over aged, etc. create obstacle in learning process. Growing age children and middle aged individual have good learning capability in comparison to old aged people. Nutrition and use of medicine can also affect learning process. Physiological factors are not under the control of person.

3. Social Factors

Social factors influence learning process both positively as well as negatively. Some of social taboos discourage individual in learning while some of social beliefs, cultures and values encourage for learning. Social needs, incentives, values, prestige, competition, cooperation, etc. are such factors.

4. Learning methods

Learning methods or techniques also influence on learning. Learning by doing is found to be more effective in comparison to reading or lecture method. Observation and participation are more effective for quick learning and long lasting memory. Nowadays, use of multimedia, workshops training, refreshment programs, presentation, case analysis, etc. are being popular in teaching - learning method as they are more effective.

5. Learning material and content

For effective learning, content or objective of learning must be specific and clear. Vague, over loaded, unclear learning content and boring material are less effective in learning process. Learning material and content influences in how much (fully, partially or no part) is learned, how easily and quickly learned, and to what extent one practices the learned knowledge after learning.

6. Environmental factors

Learning place, room, availability of learning materials, equipment, supplies, light, peace zone, temperature, etc. are environmental factors influencing learning. For effective learning, along with stimuli, there be sufficient space, materials and supplies, equipment like multimedia, computer and internet, light, complete silence, etc.

Principles of Learning in OB

Learning should focus on how to make people learn better and how to get the desired behavior in the person after learning take place. There can be several principles of learning which can ensure the effective learning if they are followed. Some of them are discussed below:

1. Principle of readiness or motivation

This principle states that for effective learning, either in the classroom or workplace, individual should be motivated sufficiently. If people are not properly motivated or are not ready to learn, they can't pay due attention on critical components of learning content. However, one cannot be forced to learn. Learning needs self motivation in greater extent, on the part of the learner in order to exert a high level of effort. One has aptly said that, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

2. Principle of feedback

This principle states that for effective learning, there should be established system of feedback to the learner. There is a set of feedback rules to enhance learning. Such rules consist of positive, negative or neutral along with short comment. With the application of such sets of effective feedback, learning can be made effective as it motivates, raises awareness, helps to identify the concentration area to improve performance and strengthen the efforts.

3. Principle of reinforcement

This principle states that for effective learning, individual behavior should be followed by a pleasant experience. This ensures that behavior will be repeated most frequently; otherwise, it is less (knowledge, skills, and ability). Reinforcement plays a significant role in the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the unplanned, informal, and experiential learning of our lives.

4. Principle of learning curve

This principle states that, at the beginning of learning stage, people learn at a faster rate but learning rate decline until a plateau is reached along with increasing learning time. This learning curve in figure below, depicts that, at the beginning, the learning of typing speed is relatively fast, and as the time passes, the speed increases at a diminishing rate until a plateau is reached.

5. Principle of transfer ability

This principle states that knowledge or skill what we learn must be transferable in our day to day jobs activities. Learning if that cannot be used in practice, such learning would be useless for the individual as well as for the organization. Japanese business consultants, especially engineers and social scientists, have been transferring, their knowledge and skills among the people working in the shop floor. This has not only made people skilled but equally contributed to making Japanese organizations successful.

6. Principle of behavioral modification

This principle states that learning should replace undesirable behaviors with more desirable behaviors through positive or negative reinforcement. Behavioral change is the minimum requirement to have learning. If individual does not change attitude or lower efficiency even after getting one week training, there is no learning from training.

7. Principle of participation

This principle states that to have effective learning, there should be active participation of both learner as well as instructor. Learner and instructor should be participated in creating natural environment of learning, should be involved in discussion, and should be involved in practicing the learned skills in job.

8. Principle of discrimination

This principle states that learning procedure associates discriminating positive stimulus from negative stimulus. Behavior can change by learning incentives such as explanation and praise on previous bad and good conducts respectively.

9. Principle of multi-sensation

This principle states that learning occurs more rapidly and clearly when information is received through more than one sense organ (nose, ear, tongue, skin and eye). For instance, learning through listening sound and reading a book together will be more effective in comparison to reading only (seeing). In comparison to reading and listening, watching movie after reading text becomes more effective. So, learning in more than one sensation level is preferable for effective learning.

Behavior Modification (OB Mod.)

Behavioral modification is based on the operant conditioning theory which explains the needs of positive reinforcement for getting desired behavior. This means, to get desired behavior in the organization, there should be positive reinforcement of rewards. B.F. Skinner, Father of Behaviorism, developed this concept with operant conditioning, which states that all behavior is governed by reinforcing and punishing stimuli. This concept explains learning as a dependent process on environment. It explains learning in terms of the antecedents and consequences of behavior. Its purpose is to improve performance.

Thus, behavioral modification is a technique to modify or eliminate undesirable behavior to get desired behavior. This concept is used to understand the behavior of human being more effectively and used to improve organizational effectiveness. It is an application of reinforcement theory to people in organizational setting. Behavioral modification focus in;

  • Improving employee productivity, 
  • Reducing absenteeism and lateness, 
  • Reducing accident rates,
  • Improving employee discipline, 
  • Developing training and development programs. 
  • Improving industrial relations

Steps in behavioral modification (OB Mod.)

1. Identify critical behavior

In the very first step of behavioral modification, managers must identify the set of desirable and undesirable behavior in the organization. Behavior modification process follows measurement of behavior if behaviors are seen and they can be measured. Supervisor or job holder identifies critical behavior. A behavior audit is conducted to analyze each job. Direct performance behaviors are included that significantly impact performance outcome. 

2. Develop baseline data

In this step, detail behavior of employees are measured to estimate consequences of their behavior. This step helps to identify desired and undesired behavior in organization. Such data regarding behavior of employees collected before initiating the change process are called base line data. 

3. Analyze behavioral consequence

In this step, behavior shown by employees are analyzed to estimate the future consequences. From this step, managers identify the existing behavioral contingencies, consequences of performance, that is, what happens now to employees who perform at various levels? If an employee works heard, does she/he get a reward or just get tired. Behavior modification recognizes that behavior is influenced by two environmental contingencies: the antecedents that precede behaviors and the consequence that follow behavior. These principles are part of the Antecedents-Behavior-Consequences (A-B-C) model of behavior modification. 

  • Antecedents: Antecedents are input factors for behavior i.e. they cause for behavior of employees. 
  • Behavior: Behavior are activities shown by employees in organization. 
  • Consequences: Consequences is the results or outcomes of antecedent on behavior of employees. OB Mod. focuses on changing undesired behavior of employees into desired behavior as consequences. 

4. Use intervention strategy

Intervention refers interference in existing behavior of employees. Intervention strategy is the main activity in behavioral modification as it prepares plans to initiate some changes which strengthen the desired behavior and weaken the undesired behavior. Intervention strategy changes performance-reward linkage to make high level performance more rewarding. 

5. Evaluate performance improvement

This is the feedback stage in which success or failure of behavioral modification program is evaluated. Performance of employees before implementation of modification program and after modification program is compared. Managers need to evaluate whether goals of program are attained or not, if yes, at what extent they are attained. This step prepares feedback for the upcoming programs. 

Attitude Formation in OB

Attitude is the summation of judgemental statements regarding favorable or unfavorable regarding any object, event or person. This represents the way of thinking how do we relate to the world of work and outside the work. Statements like 'I like the way of my manager' or 'I dislike the leadership style of my manager' represent the way of thinking regarding the leadership of style of a manager by an employee. The first statement represents positive attitude whereas the second statement represents the negative attitude. "Understanding different types of attitudes of individual and their likely implication is useful in predicting how individual's attitudes influence their behavior". 
Attitudes has three types of components as cognitive, affective and behavioral. Cognitive attitude represents thoughts, beliefs, and ideas about particular object, person or event. Affective attitude represents with feelings or emotions that are brought to the surface about a particular object, person or event. Likewise, behavioral component of attitude deals with how people react on an attitude? Formation of attitude is complex process and is affected by several factors. 

Attitudes are affected by following factors and moreover, these factors collectively affect attitude:

1. Learning

Learning affects attitude of any individual. This improves the level of knowledge and understanding. Thus, way of thinking and making judgment can be different with the level of learning. 

2. Experience

People make attitude with experience. Their involvement in various responsibilities improves the level of thinking and understanding. They form job related attitudes like attitudes regarding managers, working environment, salary and pay system, performance appraisal and reward management system, marketing policies, HR selection, development and maintenance practices, etc. They may be satisfied or unsatisfied with these things and form positive or negative attitudes. 

3. Personality factors

Personality factors of individual are also important influencing factors of attitudes. More often, individual evaluates the advantages or disadvantages of situation, event, person and object on the basis of own personality trait. For example, aggressive leaders and cooperative leaders have different attitudes towards any event. 

4. Membership

Membership or association with various work groups like political groups, age groups, gender, geographic region, religion, educational background, social groups, etc. affects the attitude of individual. For example, way of thinking or attitude or group members and their influence on personal decision making affects on purchasing decision, job continuity or resignation, follow of leader, etc. 

5. Family background

Family background shapes personality of individual. Personal traits are backed by genetic characteristics. Besides this, economic and academic background of the person also affects on level of thinking and hence in the formation of attitude. 

6. Social factors

Social class, culture, language and structure also influence the level of thinking of person. Thus, social factors are also important boundaries of individual's initial attitudes. 

Perception in OB: Factor Affecting, Application, Principles, Theories, Perceptual Process

Meaning/Concept of Perception in OB

Perception is the process of gathering, organizing and interpreting the sensory impressions regarding the world. Individuals give the meaning to any event, object or person on the basis of their perception. Perception of the individual make difference in understanding the instances or events and hence the interpretation may be different person to person and even from the objective reality. This means that perception is the subjective judgment of nay person towards the environment which can be substantially different from one person to another. For instance, current working environment of nay organization may be satisfactory to some employee whereas may be cause of job turnover to some others. Some employees may perceive that the organization in which they are currently working can fulfill their expectation whereas that can be too low to that their organization is paying competitive pay and benefits while some others may think it is poor while the reality may be different. In this way, perception can be viewed as the individual way of explaining the environment on the basis of information collected through sensory organs. Perception is a complex cognitive process by which different people interpret the stimulus or situation they are faced with.


In conclusion, perception is the process of gathering, organizing and interpreting the information from environment. It is the basis of individual behavior. People behave as they make perception regarding what reality is rather than the reality itself. Job behavior like job commitment and organizational commitment are the consequences of employee perception which increases the importance of understanding individual perception at job. Following figures may have perceived differently by different persons.

Features of Perception in OB

Perception is the way of interpreting the events or information received from environment. From above discussion, we can summarize the following features of perception:
  1. Psychological or cognitive process: Perception is purely mental process in which individual receives information from environment filters them on the basis of cognition. Perception is basically learning process.
     
  2. Individual indifference: Perception may be different person to person as it is based on individual psychology and way of interpretation. Same thing, person or event may be favorable to some while unfavorable to some other person. This is because of way of thinking and interpreting the stimuli.
     
  3. Different from reality: Perception may be different from real world. Individual make perception on the basis of what she/he thinks about the reality but not on the basis of reality itself. For instance, most of us perceive that sun rises in the east and sets in the west but the reality is neither sun rises not it sets. Neat and tidy people are perceived as good human but reality may be different.
     
  4. Affected by motivation and personality: Perception is affected by motivation of individual and personality. Individual perceive what they want to perceive. Personality of the people is backed by knowledge and hence the perception is also affected by level of knowledge.
     
  5. Perception can be developed: Perception can be developed or changed through learning. Formal education, training and experience improve and even sometimes change the perception of the individual.
     
  6. Basis of individual behavior: Behavior of individual is backed by perception. No behavior can be expected without perception. Individual show the behavior as she/he perceives about event, object or person. 
Also read: Organizational Behavior: Assumptions, Levels, Challenges and Opportunities, Emerging trends, System/Model, Outcomes 

    Perceptual Process in OB

    Perception is the process of making judgment on the basis of sensory impression. This is the way by which individual receives the information from environment and filters to make conclusive decision whatever may be the reality. Perception consists of following steps:

    1. Environment Stimuli

    Environment is the primary source of information for individual perception. Environment stimulates the sensory organs to receive information. Individual gets information through seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. In this stage individual collects general information about event, object and person. In perceptual process, this step is taken as input.

    2. Selection

    Individual after receiving the information from environment, filters and selects information. In this step, filtration, modification or change in stimuli takes place. This helps to organize required information and strengthen the primary decision. Selection is psychological process which follows two important principles as figure-ground principle and relevancy principles.

    Under figure-ground principle, meaning and significant (figure) information are selected but meaningless and less important (ground) information are discarded. Likewise, under relevancy principles, only relevant to the expectation and needs are selected out of total information.
    Following reasons motivate people for selecting the information:
    • People pass through selection, in order to reduce the perceptual overload as they cannot hold total information. 
    • People used to be purposive i.e. they already prepare mind set up regarding what they want to see or hear. 
    • People do not think all the information may not be important. They select only the most important or most risky. 
    • People select that information which is more familiar or strange in comparison to others. 

    3. Organization

    In this stage, the processed information is ordered and classified in a logical manner. The selected stimuli are grouped into recognizable patterns so that individual can make conclusive judgement. Logically ordered information helps to give meaning of the information. Organization includes grouping, closure and simplification process.
    • Grouping: Under grouping, more likely or proximate information which are selected are brought together. For example, if five students of a class become absent on Friday. Program coordinator perceives that they have bunk the class for new movie. But reality may be they have absent because of individual causes at home. Similarly, if three employees quit the job after the decision of promoting others, manager may think both of them have left the job because of same reason of not being promoted.

    • Bridging the gap (Closure): This is the tendency of completing sense or meaning of incomplete information with self knowledge of guess. People perceive fixed meaning of well established abbreviated form for example MGMT is meant by Management OB is understood by Organizational Behavior, etc. This is the process of obtaining complete meaning even having certain gap or incomplete information.

    • Simplification: Simplification is the process of avoiding information overload. For this, individual selects only important to them or simple to understand. Through simplification process, people select only meaningful and understandable information. 
    Also read: Organizational Behavior: Concept, Characteristics, Importance, History, Contributing Disciplines 

      4. Interpretation

      After organizing the information into logical order, individual assigns meaning to the stimuli to make sense out of them. Everybody has unique filter to interpret the stimuli within the framework of existing knowledge. This means every individual may have different meaning for same event, object or person on the basis of different interpretation. In this stage individual prepares the perception.

      5. Outcome

      On the basis of perception, individual sets emotion, attitude, and behavior. Emotion is thus, drives the psychological as well as physical activities which can easily be observed by others. This is a coordinated package of biological arousal, thoughts or mental evolution and behavioral expression. Attitude is the position or stance towards rights or wrong regarding any event, product or person. This creates positive or negative feelings. Behavior is the set of actions or conducts on the basis of attitude. So, attitude and behavior are the outcomes of perception process.

      Factors Affecting Perception in OB

      Perception is individual specific as different people may perceive the event, object or person in different ways. A variety of factors shape and sometimes distort the perception. Basically, perception may be affected by individual, target and situation related factors. So, factors affecting perception can be classified into three major heading as factors in individual, factors in target and factors in situations.

      Also read: Learning in OB: Importance, Process, Components, Theories, Factors Influencing, Principles

      1. Factors in individual

      Main factor in perception formulation is the individual i.e. perceiver itself. Personal characteristics of perceiver greatly affect the way of making judgments regarding the event, object and person. Attitude, motives, emotions, interests, experience and expectations are some perceiver related factors affecting perception.

      2. Factors in Target

      Target is the event, object or person itself to which perceiver want to make an interpretation. There can be different factors on target by which individual's interpretation may be changed. Novelty, motion, sounds, size, background, proximity and similarity are most important target related factors affecting perception. Such factors affect intensity, frequency and actual evaluation of the target which may change the previous perception and or help to create the perception in different ways. For instance, distance of target may affect in color, texture, size, sound, etc. of the target which may create perception differently.

      Also read: Communication in OB: Functions, Process, Types, Network, Barriers, Overcoming, Issues

      3. Factors in Situation

      Situation in which the perceiver collects the information and interprets the target also affects in perception formation. Such situation related factors are time, work setting and social setting. These factors may affect on the priority of perceiver, satisfaction of needs of perceiver, utility function, supervision style, quality work life and the organization itself.

      Specific Application of Perception in Organization Behavior (OB)

      Perception is the way of interpreting the event, object and person. It helps to make the personal judgement. It also affects in decision making. Both of these issues are equally important in the organization. So, application of perception in organization can be discussed under two headings as:
      • To understand individual perception to understand others
      • To understand individual perception and decision making
      1. Individual perception to understand others: There are many events in the organization to understand each other in various issues. Managers and supervisors should make the decision regarding whom authority can be delegated. On the basis of person's perception, subordinate's activities may vary. Thus, it is necessary that the individual perception to understand other need to be studied. It is necessary to understand perception to understand others need to be studied. It is necessary to understand how one individual perceives other in the organization. There may be various factors regarding perceiver, target and the situation affecting the person's perception towards others. During this, one individual perceives the other with certain assumption about other's internal state. "Internal state refers to the beliefs motives, emotions, attitudes and values". Attribution theory is used to explain how and individual perceives other differently and attribute to a given behavior. Attribution theory has given one important output known as attribution error while making judgment of others.
      2. To understand individual perception and decision making: Different people have to make decision on the basis of their capacity in the organization almost in regular basis. Top managers need to make the decision regarding organizational goals and strategies. Middle level managers make decisions regarding departmental goals and action plans while lower level managers need to make decision regarding day to day operation. And non-managerial employees make decisions regarding how much efforts should be paid to accomplish job allocated to them. All such decisions are expected to achieve the organizational by increasing organizational efficiency and effectiveness. All such decision and quality of decision are affected by individual perception regarding goals, plans, policies and strategies.

        While making decision, decision maker gets information from different sources. Information then, are evaluated and the best one is chosen. Information evaluation and selection process depend upon perception of the decision maker. Perception may alter the decision through biased analysis and conclusion. 

      Principles of Perceptual Selection in OB

      Individual does not always perceive the events freely from the environment.She/He selects the stimuli from the environment which can satisfy her/his needs, desires and expectations because of the dominance of needs in individual. Individual selects the stimuli on the basis of certain guidelines which are termed as principles of perceptual selection. Here, each principle is not significant alone in making perception. Basic principles of perceptual selection are discussed below:

      Also read: Group in OB: Characteristics, Reasons, Stages, Types, Behavior, Nature, Importance, Issues
      1. Principle of Intensity: According to intensity principle of perceptual selection, the more intense the external stimulus, the more likely it is to be perceived. Loud sound, dark color, strong smell, bold and italic letters etc. are perceived more easily and quickly in comparison to the soft sound, light color, soft smell. This principle is used frequently in advertisement like bright color in packaging, loud sound in television commercials. Supervisors sought loudly to get attention.
      2. Principle of size: The size principle of perceptual selection states that the larger size of stimulus, the more likely it is to be perceived. This means that the stimulus with larger size is easily perceived than the stimulus having small size. Normally, supervisors and managers with large body size can command more strictly to their subordinates because of positive perception of subordinates towards them. Large billboards are used in advertisement to draw the attention of perceivers. Full page advertisement gets more attention of readers. In the given figure, bigger circle is likely to be perceived quickly which draws the attention of viewer.

      3. Principle of contrast: Contrast stands for dissimilarity or uniqueness against all other stimulus or objects standing out. This principle states that the stimulus which is different or unique in comparison to the nearby and common objects, that will be perceived easily and quickly. For example, person wearing different color dress in a group can perceive the attention. Employees with different sound or vision are perceived quickly. Likewise the word DANGER written with red letter on while background draws quick attention. Cricketers wear different color sun glasses to get attention. In the adjacent figure, though all the circles have equal size, but central circle is easily perceived than other because of its contrast color.

      4. Principle of Novelty and Familiarity: Novelty is newness and familiarity is commonness or known to the perceiver. This principle states that perceiver perceive easily and quickly to novel (new) or familiar stimulus depending upon circumstances. For instance, new person in locality draws more attention while familiar face can easily be recognized. New design of vehicle or machine or dress can be perceived fast.

      5. Principle of repetition: Repetition or frequency plays vital role to select the perception. Highly repeated stimulus gets more attention than none repeating or single one. For example, producers or suppliers repeat advertising materials to their prospect customers to get attention. Supervisors and managers give directions again and again to their subordinates so that they can remember. Refreshment training are given to employee to refresh the knowledge or skill of employees.

      6.  Principle of Motion: This principle states that the moving objects draw more attention than the stationary objects. For instance, advertisement of a car or motorcycle uses the running (moving) state to attract perceivers. Likewise, trainers, teachers and supervisors keep on moving while instructing or observing their trainees, students and subordinates so that perceiver gets more attention in moving.

      7. Principle of learning motivation and personality: This principle states that individual perceive the stimulus which compatible to their learning, motivation and personality. Learning creates certain expectancy so that individual perceive in certain manner. Motivation itself helps to draw attention towards stimulus and the personality affects the way of perceiving the stimulus.

      Application of Perception Theories in Organization in OB

      Perception is the unique way in which each individual receivers, organizes and interprets things. It is a process of making personal view regarding management approaches, leadership style, group behavior and other management practices in the organization. On the basis of perception, individual makes decision towards continuation or termination, makes behavior pattern at the work place and with supervisor, managers and team members. Thus, perception theories are much useful in organizational settings. Perception theories can be used in organization mainly in following two issues:

      Also read: Team in OB: Nature, Types, Building Effective, Processes

      1. Person Perception

      By means of perception, through mental processes, individual wish to make conclusion regarding other person as well as to influence other specially. For instant, if a new manager is appointed in organization and introduces himself in front of employees, on the vary first meeting, employees make perception regarding his leadership style (strictness or softness) on the basis of his body posture, body language, words used while introducing, facial expression etc. Likewise, each employee wishes to have positive influence (image of good employee) in front of him. Attitudes, motive, interest, experience, expectation, time, social scenario, novelty, proximity, contrast, similarity, etc. affect on individual perception. In individual perception, attribution theory, attribution errors and common shortcuts are the major theories or foods.

      Also read: Personality in OB: Characteristics, Determinants, Attributes Influencing, International Values, Application

      a. Attribution theory

      The attribution theory explains whether the behavior of individual is explained (perceived) externally or internally. "This theory tries to explain the ways in which we judge people differently, depending on the meaning we attribute to a given behavior". This theory suggests that the behavior of individuals can be attributed or judged as whether it was internally (controlled by person) or externally (situational). For instance, if an employee is late at job, it can be attributed in two ways as:
      • It is because of intention of disloyalty of employee which is internal cause of employee. 
      • It is because of the peak traffic hour which is beyond the control of employee. The first type of attribution is called internal attribution and the second type is external attribution. 
      Internally caused behavior is expected to be under control of individual. We perceive the internally caused behavior through internal attribution. Internally caused behavior is treated with high priority in the organization if they are more consistently happening. Externally caused behavior is expected to occur because of environment or situation. Such behavior is normally out of control of person. Consistency of externally caused behavior remains low because the situation or environment does not remain same always and it is not under control of individual.

      "Harold Kelly has proposed a widely accepted model which explains how people determine why others behave as they do. According to this model people determine why other behave as they do. According to this model, people make attributions with focusing on three major factors as consistency, distinctiveness and consensus".
      • Consistency: Consistency behavior refers to the same behavior performed again and again by same person in similar situation. For instance, in the above example, because of consistency behavior employee tends to be late almost everyday. This is caused by internal attribution. But, if the employee is not late for several days in previous months but she/he is late for only one day, it can be attributed by external causes.
      • Distinctiveness: Distinctiveness refers to the different behavior performed by same person in different situations. For instance, in the above example, whether the person who is late today frequently comments on management practices in other different situations as well? If yes, the attribution of being late today may be internal but if no, the behavior can be attributed externally.
      • Consensus: This refers to same behavior performed by everyone who faces similar situation. In the above example, if everyone using the route becomes late, it can be attributed consensus. If the consensus behavior is high, we can give it as the external attribution but if there is low consensus, it can be responded as internal attribution. 

      b. Attribution errors: 

      "One of the most interesting findings from attribution theory research is that errors or biases distort attributions". Attribution can be distorted by following two types of errors:
      1. Fundamental attribution error: When we make judgements about the behavior of other person, we normally over estimate the influence of internal or personal factors (abilities, motives, traits or emotions) and underestimate the influence of external or situational factors. Such type of errors is called the fundamental attribution errors. Such type of error may cause dissatisfaction in employees.
      2. Self servicing bias: Self-serving bias refers to the tendency of attributing own success to internal causes while failure to external causes. For example, a supervisor may attribute internal (because of self efficiency) if an assigned work is completed in time with desired quality but may attribute external (because of inefficiency of subordinates) if the assigned job is not completed in time with desired quality. A sales manager may attribute the sale growth because of him but may blame the production unit if it may decrease.
      3. Common shortcuts in judging others: Individuals frequently use shortcuts for judging others as they have to make quick judgement. Such shortcuts are more valuable in organizational settings as each individual make judgement respectively from their position and make their behavior. Such shortcuts are frequently used in day to day work life simply because they help us making decisions quickly. Though such shortcuts may distort the reality and lead us to wrong consequences but are not foolproof. Following shortcuts are common in judging others:

        • Selective perception: Selective perception is the tendency of selecting the event, object or person and interpret as the intention or wish of perceiver. People may interpret the stimulus on the basis of own interest, experience, background and attitude leaving all other within the same situation. For instances, a manager always delegate authority to only a selected subordinate as she/he selectively perceive the person is good. This may be because of personal vested interest as the person does the job secretly or the selected person may be own relative. Such behaviors in the private organization are too common. We observe only the car or motorcycle on the road which we want to see. People used to rely on the information supplied by certain media or person to whom they trust rather than what may be true.
        • Halo effect: Halo effect is the tendency of drawing general impression about an individual, event or object on the basis of single feature ignoring the rest of all others. Generally, we judge a person on the basis of intelligence, sociability, appearance, etc. keeping other things ignored. First impression or experience is always used for benchmark in this type of shortcut. Good person once is always good and wrong once is judged always wrong: as a halo effect.
           
        • Contrast effect: "It is the tendency of evaluation of a person's characteristics that is affected by comparisons with other people recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same characteristics". We judge stimulus on the basis of features of stimulus which are already encountered. For instances, we judge new car on the basis of the car we are using or we have just observed in the next showrooms. We judge new employee by comparing the employee who has just retired or resigned from the same post. Current candidate in interview is judged on the basis of previous candidate. This shortcut compels to overlook the personal characteristics.
        • Stereotyping: "It is the tendency of judging someone of the basis of one's perception of the group to which that person belong". We make certain presuppositions regarding person on the basis of their belongingness. On the basis of those suppositions, we generalize out perception and decisions. For instances , "men are not fit for child care" because we suppose men are not interested for this job. Likewise, "girls are fit for front-desk job" because they have good hospitality and passion. Stereotyping is normally inherited and this plays reluctant to change the behavior in normal effort. It is very common on gender, ethnicity, age, race, body structure, body weight,skin color, etc.

          Some example of use of shortcuts in organization
          • Eligibility of candidates to apply for the job. 
          • Employee interview and hiring process.
          • Performance expectation from employee. 
          • Employee performance appraisal. 
          • Judging employee loyalty. 
          • Authority delegation

      2. Individual decision making (IDM)

      Decision are the choices made from among various alternative solutions for any particular problem. Individual, in the organization, need to make decision under various capacity of organizational hierarchy. Top level of managers make decisions over organizational goals, vision, mission, strategy as well as decision regarding expansion or hold the plant, innovation or development products, etc. middle level managers decide on departmental goals, production schedules, selection of new employees, departmental coordination, departmental strategies, etc. Likewise, lower level managers make decisions over daily schedule on production, supply, service, etc. Decisions are influenced, in most of the cases, by individual behavior. Decisions at large, affect on behavior of many people involved in the organization. Perception affects on behavior. Therefore, perception is closely associated in individual decision making process. There are mainly three theories or models of IDM as:

      Also read: Leadership in OB: Nature, Qualities, Style, Emerging Approaches, Issues

      a. Classical or rational decision making model: 

      "Classical or rational decision making model is a decision making model that describes how individuals should behave in order to maximize same outcome. This model assumes that best decision maker is rational and makes consistent, value maximizing choices within specified constraints". Rational decision making model is based on a number of assumption like;
      • Decision maker can easily analyze the problem. 
      • Preferences are clear, constant and stable, 
      • Decision maker has complete information. 
      • Decision maker is capable of identifying all the relevant alternative solutions. 
      • Decision maker is capable of choosing the best option without any biases.  
      Rational decision making model suggests following six steps in decision making:
      1. Define the problem: In this step, decision maker identifies the issues of problem, problem dimension, and depth of the problem. Poor diagnostic skills and perceptual biases are common errors in problem defining.
      2. Identify the decision criteria: In this step, decision maker chooses the variables affecting decision outcomes. Qualification, experience, ability, initiative, etc. are common decision making criteria which affect on quality of decision.
         
      3. Allocate weight to the criteria: In this step, decision maker ranks the decision making criteria on the basis of importance in the decision making process. Weight to the criteria is affected by perception of decision maker.
         
      4. Develop the alternatives: In this step, decision maker develops potential solutions available to solve the problems. Decision maker only prepares the list of various solutions. Once again, perception of decision maker affects on preparation of alternative solutions. 
      5. Evaluate the alternatives: In this step, decision maker evaluates all available alternative solution on the basis of their advantages and disadvantages. Adverse and favorable consequences are estimated carefully. Decision maker consider all the criteria for decision making.
      6. Select the best alternatives: This is the main stage in decision making. Decision maker at this step, selects best alternative on the basis of consequences of decision. Most appropriate alternative with positive effects are selected as decision. 

      Criticism of Classical or radical decision making model

      Most assumptions of this model are realistic. Most decision in the real situation don't follow this model. Most significant decision are made by judgement, rather than by a defined perspective model. "What's more, people are remarkably unaware of making suboptimal decisions". Many researchers have noted that decision making usually is not logical, consistent, and systematic process. Thus, decision making cannot be rational. Following facts are sufficient to limit the important of classical or radical decision making model:
      • Decision maker has limits on information processing capability. 
      • Perceptual biases can distort information processing, alternative searching evaluation of alternatives and selection of alternative. 
      • Many decision makers select information more for its accessibility than for its quality. 
      • Decision makers usually tend to commit themselves to a specific alternative prior to evaluation all other alternatives. 
      • Prior decisions always influence on the new decision. So, decision makers cannot be rational. 
      • Organizations are established with fixed goals which direct the intention of decision maker rather than being optimally rational. 
      • Organizations put time and cost constraints to the decision maker which violets one of the most important assumption of rational decision making model. 

      b. Behavioral theory of decision making (Bounded rationally model): 

      Above mentioned criticism of rational model compel researcher to think alternative model of decision making. "Our limited information processing capability makes it impossible to assimilate and understand all the information necessary to optimize". At the same time, most problems cannot be fitted in rational model. Thus, decision makers, instead of fitting problem in rational model, reduce the problem to a level at which they can understand and solve with available alternatives. This way of making decision is known as behavioral theory or boned rationality model. "Bonded rationality or behavioral decision making is a process of making decision by constructing simplified models that extract the essential features from problems without capturing at their complexities". This model explains the clear description about how decision makers makes decisions. This is more realistic guidance regarding how should decision maker made decisions. Bonded rationally model was first proposed by Herbert Simon, James March and their colleagues. 

      This theory has two important concepts as bounded rationally and satisfying outcomes. Brief description above these concepts are given below:
      Bounded rationality: This concept argues that decision makers is limited by his values and unconscious reflexes, skills, and habits. Decision makers have limited information and knowledge to make rational decision. 

      Satisfying outcome: This concept argues that decision maker continues generate and evaluate alternatives. Best alternative among all available alternatives (which may not be optimally best) is selected. 
      Advocacy for the behavioral or bounded rationality model
      • It focuses on decision making even in inadequate information. 
      • Decision makers can make decision from limited alternatives as well as they can never succeed in generating all possible alternatives. 
      • Decision can be made with the best prediction of consequences based on knowledge of decision maker. 
      • Decision can be best among the alternative but less optimal. 

      c. Intuitive decision making

      It is perhaps a least rational way making decision in which decision maker makes decisions without any conscious process. It occurs outside conscious thought means decision are made in emotions. But, for intuitive decision making, decision maker should have highly complex and highly developed form of reasoning from years of experience and learning. This model of decision making can be useful in the case where over emphasizing on decision making is not important. One of the major weakness of intuitive decision making process is that decision maker should not make the decision making only at hunch. Thus, intuitive decision making neither can be abandoned nor re relied solely. 

      Organizational Behavior: Concept, Characteristics, Importance, History, Contributing Disciplines

      Concept and Meaning of Organization

      An organization refers to a formal social group that is deliberately created and maintained to achieve some intended goals. In other words, an organization is a place where a group of individual with different skills and background are brought together to perform specific duties. Their tasks are supervised and coordinated by managers. Employees assist managers to achieve the objectives set by their owners/management. The owners can be government, private business people or the workers themselves. Speaking truly, organization is a group of people who are cooperating under the direction of leadership for the accomplishment of a common goals and objectives. It is systematic process by which people with different skills and from different background pool their resources for the achievement of defined objectives.

      Also read: Organizational Behavior: Assumptions, Levels, Challenges and Opportunities, Emerging trends, System/Model, Outcomes

      Many activities in our daily life are linked and concerned with various organizations. Such organizations provide different goods and services to facilitate our life well organized. Our life starts with the organization and as a social being no one can sustain without organization. Organizations are the social units in simple works. All organizations set specific objectives and hence set specific procedures to attain those predetermined objectives. On the basis of objectives organization can be business and social organization.
      Mooney and Railey - "Organization is the form of every human association for the attainment of a common purpose."
      On the basis of above definitions, we can reach into the conclusion that organizations are the form of human association for the attainment of common goals. On the basis of number of individual associated in them and volume of transactions, organizations can be large or small. But, they set the fixed relationship between the individual with certain division of responsibilities and authority. Authority sets the leadership which is obliged to fix the guidelines and procedures to attain common goals. Organizations conduct certain activities to attain the predetermined goals in dynamic environment.

      Also read: Individual Behavior: Concept, Input Output System, Determinants , Mental Process 

      Concept and Meaning of Behavior

      Behavior is a way of action. It is what a person does. more precisely, behavior can be defined as the observable and measurable activity of human being. It can include anything like decision making, handling of machine, communication with the other people, reaction or response to an order or instruction.
      Fred Luthans-"Behavior is anything that the human does."
      Thus, behavior refers to what people do in an organization, how they perform and what their attitudes are. It is sum total of actions of human beings that can be directly detected by the senses of others. Behavior consists of specific factors that can yield complex results, patters, and tendencies.

      Types of Behavior

      Formal Behavior Types: It comprises activities performed as a direct result of a person's job.

      Informal Behavior Types: It includes activities undertaken in order to perform a formal duty. It is a social and emotional behavior.

      Non-Formal Behavior Types: It is not stipulated by the formal organization, such as workers swapping jobs in a factory to relieve boredom.

      Concept and Meaning of Organization Behavior (OB)

      Organizational behavior is the study of the human behavior in an organization. Organization cannot be thought without human resources but human resources do act in the different ways. Human resource is the most dynamic resources among all resources of the organization because of its feeling and interpretation. No two individual are likely to behave in the same manner in a particular work situation. Managers should be able to predict and expected behavior of an individual in group. Thus, it is essential to know the way people interact within groups. The main objective to the study of organizational behavior is to apply scientific approach to manage human resources. Different theories of organization behavior are used for human resource management purpose to maximize the output from individual and group members. This study is most commonly applied to create more efficiency in business organization.

      Also read: Perception in OB: Factor Affecting, Application, Principles, Theories, Perceptual Process 

      It involves understanding, prediction and control of human behavior in organization for improving organizational effectiveness. In other words organization behavior refers to the study of human behavior in organization and application of knowledge to make it more purposive, responsible, responsive and cooperative. Almost in every type of organization such business enterprises, schools, government, etc., interaction of people over organization exists. How the people behave in formal organization in given circumstances in the subject matter of organization behavior.

      Organizational behavior is concerned with the study of people and their reaction in an organization i.e. in social system and how that reaction or behavior affects the performance of the organization. Organizational behavior thus includes the study of individual behavior, individual and group behavior and organizational structure. Organizational behavior examines human behavior in a work environment and determines its impact on job structure, performance, communication, motivation, leadership, etc. to estimate its effect in organization performance.
      Fred Luthans- "OB is directly concerned with the understanding, predicting and controlling of human behavior in organizations."
      In conclusion, organizational behavior is a filed of study that analyzes and estimates the impact that individuals, groups and organizational structure have on behavior within the organization. This provides an important insight for formulating the plans to improve the organizational effectiveness. Organizational behavior mainly concerns about why do people people behave a differently in organizational environment? What factors affect job performance, job satisfaction, job commitment, employee interaction, leadership and managerial styles? And how do such effects can be used in organizational benefits? In order to analyze these things, internal and external perspectives as two important theories can be used.

      Also read: Group in OB: Characteristics, Reasons, Stages, Types, Behavior, Nature, Importance, Issues

      Characteristics of Organizational Behavior (OB)

      1. Multidisciplinary Character

      Through OB concerns with the study of human behavior within organization, the area of study of OB is developed from different traditional disciplines like psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, industrial engineering and some emerging disciplines such as communication, information system, women's studies and machine etc. This covers such diverse area to understand the individual behavior in group. The concept like learning, perception, attitude, motivation, etc. is borrowed from psychology, sociology and anthropology. Thus organizational behavior is multidisciplinary in nature.

      2. Goal Oriented Character

      OB is goal-oriented and action oriented discipline. Main concern of OB is to obtain the organizational goals with fulfilling individual goals of employees concerning with organization.

      3. Multi-Level Study Character

      OB is studied in different levels. It concerns with individual level, group level and organizational level. OB investigates the influence of each level in the overall organizational effectiveness.

      4. Situational Character

      OB is situational. It is very dynamic discipline. OB studies human behavior under a variety of situations. Every organization needs to operate in dynamic environment. Changes in political legal, economic, socio-cultural and technological environment makes the decision making and implementation more complex and challenging. By studying OB, we can predict the future behavior and control deviant behaviors. For this, new issues and concepts need to be addressed in organization. This, makes the OB also situational.

      5. Systematic and Scientific study Character

      OB is the systematic study and it concerns with causes and effects relationship. Conclusions are drawn with evidence but not in intuitions of the managers. It completely follows system. Similarly, the study of OB follows scientific tools, techniques and decision making criteria.

      6. Normative Science Character

      Organizational behavior is a normative science as it prescribes various findings of researches to apply to get organizational results acceptable to the society. OB, thus, concerns with values of the society and people concerned.

      7. Dynamic Character

      Organizational behavior is dynamic as it concerns with changing behavior of individual. Groups norms, values and interests are the matter of change which are directly or indirectly influence the individual behavior. In another way, OB tries to change the behavior of individual to make them socially acceptable. Its essence is reflected in change in behavior of individuals in organization.

      Also read: Learning in OB: Importance, Process, Components, Theories, Factors Influencing, Principles 

      Importance of Organizational Behavior (OB)

      Success of every organization largely depends upon effectiveness of employees. Their understanding level, perception, attitude and behavior affect on job effectiveness. With globalization, attitude and behavior of employees are changing as they are getting opportunity in global organization. Managers need to understand their behavior in individual level, group level and organization level so that deviant behavior can be identified timely and changed to positive behavior. Thus, each manager must be able to understand and implement concept of OB in organization.
      Importance of Organizational Behavior

      1. Understanding employee perception

      Perception is the factor leading to attitude and behavior of people. It is the way in which people understand and think towards people, things, events and situation. OB provides sufficient knowledge to employee in group and organization. OB provides particular antecedents (background) cause behavior. This helps to identify controllable and uncontrollable antecedents of behavior.

      2. Controlling human behavior

      OB provides knowledge to understand predict human behavior. It borrows theories from various disciplines so that overall characteristic of employees and change them as desired. Managers thus, can easily maintain good working environment to improve the effectiveness and productivity.

      3. Better Industrial Relations

      OB helps to understand the perception, attitude and behavior of people involved in different responsibilities of organization. It helps managers to understand problems at individual level, group level as well as organizational level. Misunderstanding can be solved promptly so that mutual understanding and respect can be maintained. This helps to maintain good industrial relation.


      Also read: Organizational Behavior (OB): Motivation Theories

      4. Employee Motivation

      OB suggests number of tools and techniques to satisfy individual according to their needs and interests. OB identifies individual differences and similarities with understanding people at different levels. Such techniques motivate employees. Motivated employees increase  the organizational effectiveness.

      5. Better utilization of means

      Organizations invest large capital in employee selection, training and development, reward management and HR maintenance. If it is done without understanding individual needs and interest, such activities may not work for purpose. OB helps managers to understand individual correctly so that required and effective programs can be initiated to increase effectiveness. Thus, OB increases in utilization of organizational means.

      OB Then and Now: A Brief History

      Importance of study of OB is increasing day by day as the level of understanding, knowledge and opportunity to the employees is increasing overnight because of globalization. Many social researchers, management scholars and right activists have risen up the issues of employees from their own angles. Almost of all the organizations in the world nowadays are being human centric but there was not the similar case at past. Here is a brief description of historical development of OB which we take for granted the importance of understanding the behavior of people at work and responsibility of organization.

      Also read: Personality in OB: Characteristics, Determinants, Attributes Influencing, International Values, Application

      During the period of industrialization, the central concern of industrialist, engineers and managers was to increase employee's productivity so that more output could be attained at less time and effort. From mechanical side, engineers worked hard to invent most efficient machine whereas from human side, managers put their best effort to make the people more productive. F.W.Taylor a mine engineer by profession, noticed the inappropriate movement of people at work leading for lower productivity and suggested 'time-and-motion study: a type of applied research designed to classify and streamline the individual movements required to perform jobs with best result.' In 1911, he advanced his study as a famous management principle i.e. scientific management. This study acknowledged him as first person to study the human behavior at work most carefully. Despite the great achievement in improving productivity of organization, he misguided his concept as 'preparing employee is just like to prepare a machine' which turned organizations into non-humanitarians.

      H. Fayol (Administrative Management Theory) and Max Weber (Bureaucratic Management Theory) worked out for improving organizational productivity but at the same non-humanitarian line. (Their contributions are discussed in previous classes as well so, they are not discussed here.)

      Also read: Conflict in OB: Outcomes or Consequences, Nature, Transitions, Process, Sources, Types, Dynamics, Approaches

      Elten Mayo with his co-workers forwarded more humanistic approach 'human relation approach' at work. This approach emphasized the social conditions i.e. manager's treatment to employees and their relationship in organization influence job performance. Hawthorne experiment (1927-1932), popularly known the first investigation in OB, determined how the design of work environment affects on the job performance. Interestingly, they concluded the investigation with the summary as the job performance is not only affected by work setting or design but also on the human relations and behaviors. This study opened the new avenue to think the human behavior and their effort at their job. Thus, the contribution of Mayo can be taken as foundation of the modern organization behavior movement.

      Also read: Organizational Development in OB: Characteristics, Values, Objectives, Goals, Prerequisites, Process, Interventions

      In the late twentieth century, OB movement turned into social science. It is realized that the behavior at work setting is shaped by a wide range of individual, group and organizational factors and thus the science of organizational behavior is emerged. By the 1940s, doctoral degrees were awarded in OB. In the 1970s, active programs of research were going on - investigations into such key processes motivation and leadership, and the impact of organizational structure. In 1960s, business schools introduced OB into their academic curriculum and promoted the development of the field of OB. Then, area of OB is grown sufficiently as social science and integrated various discipline as psychology, sociology, social psychology and anthropology.

      Also read: Team in OB: Nature, Types, Building Effective, Processes

      Human psychology is concerned as one of the most important element in the organization while thinking about productivity and efficiency at present. Risky and monotonous work elements are shifted to the responsibility of computer and robotic machines. Knowledge and information regarding work, work elements, facilities and opportunities are being accessible at the finger tips of each employee. This has turned the challenges of managers regarding improving productivity and efficiency of organization. This modern technology has thus changed the job requirements and was of dealing with people at work. Managers, at this time need to improve their creativity, judgment, imagination, and build relationship to 'tap the employees' with most essential humanity. Contemporary OB includes three prominent trends:
      1. The rise of global businesses with culturally diverse workforces
      2. Rapid advances in technology
      3. The rising expectations of people general. 

      Contributing Disciplines to the Field of Organization Behavior (OB)

      Organization behavior is consequences of different disciplines as it studies behaviors of individual, their impact in group dynamism and organizational performance. So, it considers the findings and assumptions of all the discipline under behavioral science. A number of behavioral science have contributed in the development of OB. They are discussed as:

      1. Psychology

      Psychology is the study of human mind to measure, explain and sometimes to change behavior. Study of fatigue, boredom, and other working condition was the initial contribution by industrial psychologist in OB which is now more concentrated in decision making processes, performance appraisal, reward management, attitude measurement, employee-selection process, training and development, motivation, work design and job stress. OB concerns regarding the study of individual psychology and behavior at work.

      Also read: Communication in OB: Functions, Process, Types, Network, Barriers, Overcoming, Issues

      2. Social Psychology

      Social psychology is the area of study of psychology in social setting i.e. group dynamism with the influence of individual influence. In OB, contribution of social psychologists is greatly shared specially for the study of group behavior, power and conflict. In order to measure, understand and change attitudes, identifying communication pattern and building trust by social psychology is must.

      3. Sociology

      Sociology is the area of study of people in relation to their social environment or culture. In order to understand and measure the group behavior in different organizational settings and to estimate their impact in organizational performance, contribution to sociology is being fruitful. Specially, OB uses the contribution of sociologists in studying organizational culture, organizational structure, organizational technology, communication, power, and conflict in group and organizational level analysis.

      Also read: Change in OB: Process, Planned and Unplanned, Magnitude, Forces, Resistance, Approaches to Managing

      4. Anthropology

      Anthropology is the area of study of people and their activities at work. This science focuses on cultures and environments to understand the fundamental differences in values, interest, attitudes and behaviors because of such culture and environments. In order to study the impact of national culture and organizational culture in activities, motivation and performance of employees, OB gets support of the contribution of anthropology.

      Also read: Leadership in OB: Nature, Qualities, Style, Emerging Approaches, Issues

      5. Others

      As the organizational behavior is being more dynamic, various findings from different other disciplines like economics, mathematics, statistics, industrial engineering, etc. are necessarily included. Mathematical models, econometric models, and statistical tools and techniques in research of organizational behaviors.