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.

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