of People and
A primary goal of management education is to develop students into managers who can think ahead, exercise good judgment, make ethical decisions, and take into consideration the implications of their proposed actions. Jane Schmidt-Wilk1
(Management students) must develop systemic thinking skills that will enable them to develop a richer understanding of the complexity they will face on a daily basis.
J. Brian Atwater, et al.2
• The Meaning of Organizational Behavior
• The Key Goals and Forces with Which It Is Concerned
• The Basic Concepts of Organizational Behavior
• Major Approaches Taken in This Book
• How Organizational Behavior Affects Organizational Performance • The Limitations of Organizational Behavior
Chapter 1 The Dynamics of People and Organizations 3
Chris Hoffman graduated from college and was excited to begin her new job as a sales representative with IBM. The first few months at work were extremely hectic for her. She attended numerous formal training sessions, learned about the wide array of products she was to sell, and tried hard to understand the complex and fluid nature of her new employer.
Returning to her home late one night, she was too confused to fall asleep immediately. Many questions raced through her mind, based on her observations at work in recent weeks: “Why are some of my colleagues more successful than others? How can we act as a team when we are working out of our homes and interacting primarily through our laptop computers? How will I ever learn to handle the stress of meeting my sales quotas? Why doesn’t my colleague Carrie cooperate with me when I ask her for assistance? Why does my manager ask me for suggestions, and then go ahead without using my input? How is the new ‘IBM culture’ different from the old one? And why is it constantly changing, anyway?”
Chris is already learning some key facts about life at work. Organizations are complex systems. If Chris wishes to be an effective employee and later a manager, she’ll need to understand how such systems operate. Organizations like IBM effectively combine people and science—humanity and technology. With the rapid discoveries and improvements that science has provided in the past century, mastering technology itself is difficult enough. When you add people to the mix you get an immensely complex sociotechnical system that almost defies understanding. However, the progress of society in the twenty-first century depends heavily on understanding and managing effective organizations today. Chris also sees that human behavior in organizations is sometimes unpredictable. The behavior of her colleagues, manager, and customers arises from their deep-seated needs, lifetime experiences, and personal value systems. However, human behavior in an organization can be partially understood by studying and applying the frameworks of behavioral science, management, and other disciplines. Exploring the various facets of such behavior is the objective of this book. There are no perfect solutions to organizational problems, as Chris will soon discover. However, employees can increase their understanding and skills so that work relationships can be substantially upgraded. The task is challenging, but the results are worthwhile.
On occasion, Chris may become so frustrated that she will be tempted to withdraw from her job. The uncooperative colleague may limit Chris’s effectiveness; the behavior of her manager may sometimes be difficult to understand. Whether she likes the behavior of these individuals or not,...