Organization behavior

Topics: Attribution theory, Organizational studies, Social psychology Pages: 6 (1989 words) Published: October 17, 2013

Attribution theory: an important tool for understanding and managing goal oriented organization behaviors. Attribution theory is known as the effective way which helps us to assume that people’s behaviour is caused by internal or external situational factors. This essay is going to discuss about the key elements of attribution theory and the relationship between them. In addition, the way of attribution theory process works in organizations are also mentioned. Also it considered how attribution theory implements in organizations as an effective tool which can help leaders to attribute employees’ behaviours and workplace outcomes. This essay reviewed some famous articles in attribution theory and psychology fields and abstracted relative points to discuss. Types of attributional explanations and the underlying dimensions of those attributions affected individuals’ emotions, expectations and behaviours. (Jianjun & Shenghua, 2009) The reason that internal and external attribution can be useful tools in management practice is that they can help managers understand causes of employee behaviours and can assist employees in understanding their thinking about their own behaviours. If you can understand why you behave a certain way, and why others around you do so, then you have a better understanding of yourself, others, and your organization. The perception of the causes of certain behaviour may affect the judgment and actions of both managers and employees. The locus of causality can be internal or external, which stands for the recognition of internal or external attribution. Also as Kelly (1967) concluded as the covariation model, which describes the three type of information that we can use to make attribution decisions are consensus, distinctiveness and consistency. In determining whether behaviour is based on internal or external factors, you look at the level of consistency, distinctiveness and consensus of the behaviour. For instance, internal attributions are made with low consensus, low distinctiveness, and high consistency while external factors when all three are high. Leaders can use covariation model to make attributions of employees’ performances. However, this model also has one important limitation, which is that it cannot to distinguish unintentional and intentional behaviour. (Ben, Olufemi, Olukunle &Patrick, 2012) As attribution theory is applied in different organizations and may be an important factor which can affect managers’ decision, the innate bias of people in the way they make attributions should be paid much attention. The basic one which is called fundamental bias describes the tendency to make internal attributions over external attributions. It emphasizes more on socialization such as culture or social settings. As concluded by Zuckerman (1979), there are two main attribution biases. The self- serving bias is the tendency of individuals to regard their successes as the result of their own effort or ability and blame failure on external factors. Thus, the situation could be that managers may blame employees for their failure. On the contrary, employees may attribute failures to external factors. The actor- observer bias stands for the tendency of observers to attribute the behaviours and outcomes of actors to their internal factors while actors attribute their outcomes to the external environment. For instance, managers may blame the failure on employees whereas employees are biased toward attributing their failures to external factors including their supervisors. After comparing these two biases, it is obviously that self- serving bias happens when both actors and observers focus on the outcomes while the actor- observer bias is based on the situation that actors emphasize on external factors but observers focus attention on actors. In organizations, performances are evaluated by managers. Those two biases can effect managers’ and employees’ evaluations of employee performance as well as the...
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