The Social Psychology of Organizations

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THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ORGANIZATIONS
-Daniel Katz & Robert L. Kahn

Book Review By

- Dhiren N Panchal

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INTRODUCTION
NOTE: The book review has been written in present tense and as if I myself would have been an author.

This book has its origin in the program of research on human relations in organizations launched by Rensis Likert in 1947 as one of the major programs of the survey research center of the University of Michigan. From its inception, this series of researches has been concerned with problems of morale and motivation, productivity and effectiveness, power& control, and leadership and change processes in large organizations. The book is an attempt to extend the description and explanation of organizational processes we have shifted from an earlier emphasis on traditional concept of individual psychology and interpersonal relationship. The interdependent behaviour of many people in their supportive and complementary actions takes on a form or structure which needs to be conceptualized at a more appropriate stage. Hence the effort has been directed at the utilization of an open system point of view for the study of large scale organization

© www.hrfolks.com All Rights Reserved - The Social Psychology of Organizations - By Katz & Kahn

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Chapter1: Point of Departure
Past approaches to the study of social problems and social behaviour have been limited by a lack of adequate conceptual tools. This limitation has been manifest both in psychology and sociology, although in different ways. Psychologists have been characteristically unable or willing to deal with the fact of social organization and social structure. Societies and organizations consist of patterned behaviours, and the behaviour of each individual is determined to a considerable extent by the requirements of the larger pattern. This context is not often incorporated into psychological theories. Some such theories –the psychoanalytic, for example- deal with the influence of the family on the individual. Others take some account of the small group as the individual environment, and still others are concerned with the influence of culture, that most global of environmental concepts. Even social psychology, however, has neglected the organizational and institutional level, and textbooks of social psychology typically conclude with some treatment of small face-to-face groups. This book is an attempt to extend such discussions by beginning where many left off-with the behaviour of people in organizations. It is in that sense a second book in social psychology. The older sociological theories reflect a limitation complementary to the theories of psychology. Sociological theories treat the superorganic or collective level without reference to individual characteristics or to the attributes of transactions between individuals. They are concerned with the products of such interaction but not with the process. This general criticism must be modified for Marx and Durkhiem, but is applicable nevertheless. This book proposes that the resolution of such theoretical difficulties can best be achieved by means of open-system theory. This theoretical approach is not yet fully developed, but is exemplified by several important lines of work. These include the event-structure theory of F.H.Allport, the general systems approach of J.G.Miller and his colleagues, and the sociological theory of Talcott Parsons. Open-systems theory seems to us to permit assumption of entropy, the necessary dependence of any organization upon its environment. The opensystem concepts of energic input and maintenance point to the motives and behaviour of the individuals who are the carriers of energies input for human organizations; the concept of output and its necessary absorption by the larger environment also links the micro- and macro levels of discourse. For all these reasons, open-system theory represents the point of...
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