Sunday, December 28, 2008

Understanding of Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior (OB) is the study and application of
knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in
organizations. It does this by taking a system approach. That is, it
interprets people-organization relationships in terms of the whole
person, whole group, whole organization, and whole social system.
Its purpose is to build better relationships by achieving human
objectives, organizational objectives, and social objectives.
As you can see from the definition above, organizational behavior
encompasses a wide range of topics, such as human behavior, change,
leadership, teams, etc. Since many of these topics are covered
elsewhere in the leadership guide, this paper will focus on a few
parts of OB: elements, models, social systems, OD, work life, action
learning, and change.

Elements of Organizational Behavior

The organization's base rests on management's philosophy, values,
vision and goals. This in turn drives the organizational culture
which is composed of the formal organization, informal organization,
and the social environment. The culture determines the type of
leadership, communication, and group dynamics within the
organization. The workers perceive this as the quality of work life
which directs their degree of motivation. The final outcome are
performance, individual satisfaction, and personal growth and
development. All these elements combine to build the model or
framework that the organization operates from.
Models of Organizational Behavior
There are four major models or frameworks that organizations operate
out of:

o Autocratic - The basis of this model is power with a
managerial orientation of authority. The employees in turn are
oriented towards obedience and dependence on the boss. The employee
need that is met is subsistence. The performance result is minimal.
o Custodial - The basis of this model is economic resources
with a managerial orientation of money. The employees in turn are
oriented towards security and benefits and dependence on the
organization. The employee need that is met is security. The
performance result is passive cooperation.
o Supportive - The basis of this model is leadership with a
managerial orientation of support. The employees in turn are
oriented towards job performance and participation. The employee
need that is met is status and recognition. The performance result
is awakened drives.
o Collegial - The basis of this model is partnership with a
managerial orientation of teamwork. The employees in turn are
oriented towards responsible behavior and self-discipline. The
employee need that is met is self-actualization. The performance
result is moderate enthusiasm.

Although there are four separate models, almost no organization
operates exclusively in one. There will usually be a predominate
one, with one or more areas over-lapping in the other models.
The first model, autocratic, has its roots in the industrial
revolution. The managers of this type of organization operate out of
McGregor's Theory X. The next three models begin to build on
McGregor's Theory Y. They have each evolved over a period of time
and there is no one "best" model. The collegial model should not be
thought as the last or best model, but the beginning of a new model
or paradigm.

Social Systems, Culture, and Individualization
A social system is a complex set of human relationships interacting
in many ways. Within an organization, the social system includes all
the people in it and their relationships to each other and to the
outside world. The behavior of one member can have an impact, either
directly or indirectly, on the behavior of others. Also, the social
system does not have exchanges goods, ideas,
culture, etc. with the environment around it.
Culture is the conventional behavior of a society that encompasses
beliefs, customs, knowledge, and practices. It influences human
behavior, even though it seldom enters into their conscious thought.
People depend on culture as it gives them stability, security,
understanding, and the ability to respond to a given situation. This
is why people fear change. They fear the system will become
unstable, their security will be lost, they will not understand the
new process, and they will not know how to respond to the new
Individualization is when employees successfully exert influence on
the social system by challenging the culture.

Impact Of Individualization
On A Organization
High | | |
| | |
| | |
| Conformity | Creative |
| | Individualism |
| | |
Socialization |_______________|_______________|
| | |
| | |
| | |
| Isolation | Rebellion |
| | |
| | |
Low |_______________|_______________|
Low Individualization High

The chart above shows how individualization affects different
o Too little socialization and too little individualization
creates isolation.
o Too high socialization and too little individualization
creates conformity.
o Too little socialization and too high individualization
creates rebellion.
o While the match that organizations want to create is high
socialization and high individualization for a creative environment.

This is what it takes to survive in a very competitive
environment. . . having people grow with the organization, but doing
the right thing when others want to follow the easy path.
This can become quite a balancing act. Individualism favors
individual rights, loosely knit social networks, self respect, and
personal rewards and careers. It becomes look out for number 1!
Socialization or collectivism favors the group, harmony, and
asks "What is best for the organization?" Organizations need people
to challenge, question, and experiment while still maintaining the
culture that binds them into a social system.
Organization Development

Organization Development (OD) is the systematic application of
behavioral science knowledge at various levels, such as group, inter-
group, organization, etc., to bring about planned change. Its
objectives is a higher quality of work-life, productivity,
adaptability, and effectiveness. It accomplishes this by changing
attitudes, behaviors, values, strategies, procedures, and structures
so that the organization can adapt to competitive actions,
technological advances, and the fast pace of change within the

There are seven characteristics of OD:
1. Humanistic Values: Positive beliefs about the potential of
employees (McGregor's Theory Y).
2. Systems Orientation: All parts of the organization, to
include structure, technology, and people, must work together.
3. Experiential Learning: The learners' experiences in the
training environment should be the kind of human problems they
encounter at work. The training should NOT be all theory and
4. Problem Solving: Problems are identified, data is gathered,
corrective action is taken, progress is assessed, and adjustments in
the problem solving process are made as needed. This process is
known as Action Research.
5. Contingency Orientation: Actions are selected and adapted to
fit the need.
6. Change Agent: Stimulate, facilitate, and coordinate change.
7. Levels of Interventions: Problems can occur at one or more
level in the organization so the strategy will require one or more

Quality of Work Life

Quality of Work Life (QWL) is the favorableness or unfavorableness
of the job environment. Its purpose is to develop jobs and working
conditions that are excellent for both the employees and the
organization. One of the ways of accomplishing QWL is through job
design. Some of the options available for improving job design are:
o Leave the job as is but employ only people who like the
rigid environment or routine work. Some people do enjoy the security
and task support of these kinds of jobs.
o Leave the job as is, but pay the employees more.
o Mechanize and automate the routine jobs.
o And the area that OD loves - redesign the job.

When redesigning jobs there are two spectrums to follow - job
enlargement and job enrichment. Job enlargement adds a more variety
of tasks and duties to the job so that it is not as monotonous. This
takes in the breadth of the job. That is, the number of different
tasks that an employee performs. This can also be accomplished by
job rotation.

Job enrichment, on the other hand, adds additional motivators. It
adds depth to the job - more control, responsibility, and discretion
to how the job is performed. This gives higher order needs to the
employee, as opposed to job enlargement which simply gives more
variety. The chart below illustrates the differences:

Job Enrichment and Job Performance
Higher | | |
Order | | Job |
| Job | Enrichment |
| Enrichment | and |
| | Enlargement |
| | |
Accent on |_______________|_______________|
Needs | | |
| | |
| Routine | Job |
| Job | Enlargement |
| | |
Lower | | |
Order |_______________|_______________|
Few Many
Variety of Tasks

The benefits of enriching jobs include:
o Growth of the individual
o Individuals have better job satisfaction
o Self-actualization of the individual
o Better employee performance for the organization
o Organization gets intrinsically motivated employees
o Less absenteeism, turnover, and grievances for the
o Full use of human resources for society
o Society gains more effective organizations
There are a variety of methods for improving job enrichment:
o Skill Variety: Perform different tasks that require
different skill. This differs from job enlargement which might
require the employee to perform more tasks, but require the same set
of skills.
o Task Identity: Create or perform a complete piece of work.
This gives a sense of completion and responsibility for the product.
o Task Significant: This is the amount of impact that the work
has on other people as the employee perceives.
o Autonomy: This gives employees discretion and control over
job related decisions.
o Feedback: Information that tells workers how well they are
performing. It can come directly from the job (task feedback) or
verbally form someone else.

Action Learning

An unheralded British academic was invited to try out his theories
in Belgium -- it led to an upturn in the Belgian economy. "Unless
your ideas are ridiculed by experts they are worth nothing," says
the British academic Reg Revans, creator of action learning [L = P +

Q] -- learning occurs through a combination of programmed knowledge
(P) and the ability to ask insightful questions (Q).
Action learning has been widely used in Europe for combining formal
management training with learning from experience. A typical program
is conducted over a period of 6 to 9 months. Teams of learners with
diverse backgrounds conduct field projects on complex organizational
problems requiring use of skills learned in formal training
sessions. The learning teams then meet periodically with a skilled
instructor to discuss, analyze, and learn from their experiences.
Revans basis his learning method on a theory called "System Beta,"
in that the learning process should closely approximate
the "scientific method." The model is cyclical - you proceed through
the steps and when you reach the last step you relate the analysis
to the original hypothesis and if need be, start the process again.

The six steps are:
o Formulate Hypothesis (an idea or concept)
o Design Experiment (consider ways of testing truth or
validity of idea or concept)
o Apply in Practice (put into effect, test of validity or
o Observe Results (collect and process data on outcomes of
o Analyze Results (make sense of data)
o Compare Analysis (relate analysis to original hypothesis)

Note that you do not always have to enter this process at step 1,
but you do have to complete the process.
Revans suggest that all human learning at the individual level
occurs through this process. Note that it covers what Jim Stewart
(Managing Change Through Training and Development, 1991) calls the
levels of existence:

o We think - cognitive domain
o We feel - affective domain
o We do - action domain

All three levels are interconnected -- e.g. what we think influences
and is influenced by what we do and feel.
In its simplest form, discontinuity in the work place is "change." A
popular change framework is Knoster, Villa, & Thousand:
Vision -> Skills -> Incentives -> Resources -> Action Plan = Change

o A vision is the starting point for goals it provides
provides the launch pad for action and the parameters for problem-
o Once a vision is established, it is necessary to build
skills needed to realize the vision.
o Incentives help to motivate the workforce to acquire and
maintain new skills. Building "buy-in" engages them -- it means they
are now stake-holders.

o Adequate resources allows the vision to be achieved.
o Action Planning is a continuous thread across all phases --
it is change process. Although presented as the final component of
the change framework, it should be viewed as the foundation of the
systems change process.
Missing Steps
What happens if you miss a step?

o Vision -> Skills -> Incentives -> Resources -> Action Plan =
o Vision -> Skills -> Incentives -> Resources -> Action Plan =
o Vision -> Skills -> Incentives -> Resources -> Action Plan =
Gradual Change
o Vision -> Skills -> Incentives -> Resources -> Action Plan =
o Vision -> Skills -> Incentives -> Resources -> Action Plan =
Treadmill Effect (false starts)

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