The Essence of Organizational Behaviour

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A definition of organizational behaviour

‘The study of the structure, functioning and performance of organizations, and the behaviour of groups and individuals within them’ (Pugh, 1971).

Characteristics of organizational behaviour (Ivancevich et al, 2008)

It is a way of thinking about individuals, groups and organizations. ●It is multidisciplinary.
There is a distinctly humanistic orientation.
It is performance-oriented.
The use of scientific method is important in studying variables and relationships. ●It is applications-oriented in the sense of being concerned with providing useful answers to questions that arise when managing organizations.

Organizational behaviour and the social and behavioural sciences

Organizational behaviour studies use social and behavioural science methodologies, which involve scientific procedures. ●The social sciences include the disciplines of psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics and political science. ●Behavioural science is mainly concerned with psychology and sociology. It was defined by Kelly (1969) as: ‘The field of enquiry dedicated to the study of human behaviour through sophisticated but rigorous methods.’

Factors affecting organizational behaviour

The actions, reactions and interactions of people that constitute organizational behaviour are influenced by the following factors: ●The characteristics of people at work – individual differences, attitudes, personality, attributions, orientation and the roles they play. ●How people are motivated.

The process of employee engagement.
The process of organizational commitment.
How organizations function.
Organizational culture.

Explaining organizational behaviour

Variance theory
Variance theory explains the causes of organizational behaviour by reference to the independent or causal variables that cause a change and result in dependent variables – the outcomes of the change. ●Variance theory involves the definition and precise measurement of the variables.

Process theory
Process theory explains organizational behaviour by producing narratives that provide probable explanations of the outcomes of a series of events.


Individual differences

The development of HR processes and the design of organizations are often based on the belief that everyone is the same and will behave rationally when faced with change or other demands. But the behaviour of people varies because of their characteristics and individual differences and it is not always rational.

Bases of variations in personal characteristics

Competencies – abilities and skills.
Constructs – the conceptual framework that governs how people perceive their environment. ●Expectations – what people have learnt to expect about their own and others’ behaviour. ●Values – what people believe to be important.

Self-regulatory plans – the goals people set themselves and the plans they make to achieve them.

Personality theories

Personality is a product of both nature (hereditary) and nurture (the pattern of life experience). Personality can be described in terms of traits or types.

Emotional intelligence characteristics

● Self-management. ● Self-awareness ● Social awareness ● Social skills.

Types of behaviour

The types of behaviour associated with individual differences are: ●perception; ● attribution; ● orientation; ● carrying out roles; ● bounded rationality.

Role theory

The role individuals occupy at work, and elsewhere, exists in relation to other people. ●This is their role set, which consists of the individuals with whom a role-holder interacts and therefore influences and is also influenced by them.

Concept map – personality

Definitions of key concepts and terms

Ability – The quality...
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