Theories of Organizational Behavior

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Revisiting the Classical theories


Organization indexes considerably more than the structures that lifts us out of ‘bare life’. Organization is also intimately, and utterly, connected to thought. While many, and by no means just those in the West, think of themselves as ‘free’ from enslavement by others, and even free from the organization of the state, who can argue that they are also free from the pervasive effects of language, culture and science? These are matters into which we find ourselves ‘thrown’, long before we wake up to their organizing effects. If, indeed, we ever do wake up. For if the intricate relations between language and thought came to be examined late in the 19th century, questions about the intercession between science and culture began to be asked only with the rise of the sociology of knowledge in the 20th century.

Questions also arise over what all this organization is for. Who benefits when community is eschewed for markets, when institutions are rendered into bureaucracies, and when sociability is altered in favour of friendship? Are we still to enjoy moments of intimacy, occasions in which compassion comes to fruition? Or are our ideas of organization incapable of being emancipated from the impetuous calls of efficiency and subordination? What place is there today for ‘ultimate values’ like dignity or happiness? Have these all-too-human dreams been made impossible in the disorganization of global capital? When organizations get busy organizing each other, how then are we to think of ‘belonging’? And how can we stop tradition from being the Other of modernization? Are there forms of affiliation and belonging that are not based on exclusion, exploitation, precedent and privilege? Organization Theory

These are the issues that Organization theory answers. As we all know, Organizational theory, encompasses the systematic study and careful application of knowledge about how people act within organizations. It encompasses the study of organizations from multiple viewpoints, methods, and levels of analysis. Some of the major ways of division are into modern, symbolic, and postmodern or "micro" organizational behavior—which refers to individual and group dynamics in an organizational setting and "macro" strategic management and organizational theory which studies whole organizations and industries. Concepts of "meso" - primarily interested in power, culture, and the networks of individuals and units in organizations and "field" level analysis which study how whole populations of organizations interact has also been added to these two. .

Modern organizational studies attempt to understand and model all such factors that come in play when an organization zooms in existence and continues being in functioning. Like all modernist social sciences, organizational studies seek to control, predict, and explain. One of the main goals of organizational theorists is, according to Simms (1994) "to revitalize organizational theory and develop a better conceptualization of organizational life."

Classical School

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the essence of leadership. Aristotle addressed the topic of persuasive communication. The writings of 16th century Italian philosopher Machiavelli laid the foundation for contemporary work on organizational power and politics. In 1776, Adam Smith advocated a new form of organizational structure based on the division of labour. One hundred years later, German sociologist Max Weber wrote about rational organizations and initiated discussion of charismatic leadership. Soon after, F W Taylor introduced the systematic use of goal setting and rewards to motivate employees. In the 1920s, Australian-born Harvard professor Elton Mayo and his colleagues conducted productivity studies at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant in the United States. Though it traces its roots back to Max Weber and earlier, organizational studies is generally considered...
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