An organisation is commonly defined as a group of people who work together in a consciously coordinated social unit for a shared purpose. Management refers to the activity of controlling and organizing people to accomplish its goals. In today’s increasingly global and competitive environment the effective management of people is even more important to the successful performance of the work organisations. Therefore, the managers need to understand the main influences on how people behave in an organisation setting. Mullins (2008, p.4) defined organisation behaviour (OB) as ‘the study and understanding of individual and group behaviour, and patterns of structure in order to help improve organisational performance and effectiveness’. It comprises a synthesis of a variety of different theories and approaches. Therefore, this essay opens by briefly explore a number of interrelated disciplined to the study of organisational behaviour, before examining the relevance of four main approach to the subject in today’s workplace. Finally, it discusses the purpose of organisations.
II. Interrelated discipline to the study of organisational behaviour The study of behaviour can be viewed in terms of three main disciplines – psychology, sociology and anthropology. The contribution of all three disciplines has played an important role to studying organisational behaviour. Psychology is the science and art of explaining mental processes and behaviour. The main focus of attention is on the individuals and explores such concepts as perception, motivation, perception and attitudes. It is arguable that McKenna considers psychology as the key discipline in studying organisational behaviour. There are five key areas in Psychology that can impact on organisations; these are: psychological psychology, cognitive psychology, development psychology, social psychology and personality psychology. Psychological aspects are useful to the practical applications such as job analysis, interviewing models or selection, but it provide too narrow view for understanding of organisational behaviour which ‘is not concern with the complex detail of individual differences but with the behaviour and management people of people’ (Mullins, 2008, p. 7). Watson (2008) defined sociology is more concern with the study of social behaviour, relationships among social groups and societies. It focuses on group dynamics, conflict, work teams, power, communication and intergroup behaviour. It is possible that Watson considered sociology to be the key discipline in studying organisations though he also places emphasis on economics. The structuration reflects the dual effect that individuals make society and society makes individuals. Watson (2008, p. 30) presents six strands of thought applied to his framework for analysis. He further presents six substantive areas applied to the six strands of though in a matrix which are work, society and change; work organisations; the changing organisation and the management of work, occupations and society; work experiences, opportunities of meanings; and conflict challenge and resistance in work. This discipline is valuable to the organisation. It helps managers recognise the relationships between large-scale social forces and the actions of individual. However, Mullins (2008, p. 7) argues that the study of organisational behaviour cannot be studied entirely in single discipline. Although each discipline has an important contribution, it just underpins the study of subject. Indeed, Mullins synthesises interrelated disciplines which are psychology with sociology, anthropology that explore culture and behavioural factors; economics that attempts to provide a rational explanatory framework for individual and organisational activity; and political science that is study of power and control between individual and groups; in his framework for analysis of organisational behaviour.
III. Four main approaches