History and Research Methods
1. Be able to discuss the various levels of OB study (micro, macro, etc) and the social sciences used to study these various levels of OB. Levels of OB: Major topics (independent variables) in organization behavior Organizational, environmental level (Macro OB):
Culture; Structure; Change, Development; Communication
Interpersonal level (Meso OB):
Groups; Decision-making; Leadership; Conflict; Power, Politics Individual level (Micro OB):
Individual differences (ability, personality, value and attitudes); perceptual biases; motivation; learning Social sciences used: Major disciplines contributing to the study of OB Psychology (used to examine individual-level phenomena); Social psychology (used to examine interpersonal level); Sociology, anthropology (used to examine organizational level)
2. Be able to discuss the pivotal role the Hawthorne studies played in the history of research in OB, including both the impact on methodology and general approach to studying OB. Impact on later OB research:
a) focus on social factors at work
b) more rigor in research methods to avoid the “Hawthorne effect” (an increase in performance in an experiment due to the presence of the experimenter, special treatment, or other socially related factors other than the independent variable)
3. Know what four conditions must be met to be able to confidently conclude that a factor causes an effect across situations. Four conditions:
1) An association (relationship) must be found between the two factors: When one changes, the other must also change. 2) The cause must precede the effect in time.
3) Alternative explanations for the effect must be ruled out. (This is the most difficult of these three to do.) Extraneous variables: Factors other than the independent variable that could result in changes in the dependent variable. In an experiment, these factors should be controlled so that they are constant in all conditions. If they are not well-controlled, then they result in possible alternative explanations (other than changes in the independent variable) that could account for the changes observed in the dependent variable. Example, “the Hawthorne effect” (effect of experimenter’s presence) 4) The above 3 things must be done for different tasks, settings, subjects. Note: Internal validity—the degree to which one can confidently conclude that one factor causes another—depends on doing 1-3; External validity—the generalizability of the findings across settings, tasks, and subjects—depends on doing 4.
4. Know what research methods are used to accomplish the above in OB research and know what the strengths and limitations of each method are. (Know what internal and external validity refer to.) 1. Case study: An expert observes and verbally describes a single situation (e.g., a company undergoing restructuring. Advantage: Provides rich detail and also provides a real basis for forming theories Disadvantages: Doesn’t rule out alternative explanations, doesn’t show generalizability across tasks, settings (i.e., low internal and external validity) 2. Correlational research: The researcher obtains measures of the hypothesized independent and dependent variables through surveys and/or archival records. He/she then correlates the two to see if one changes as the other changes. Advantage: Rooted in reality; Shows a statistical correlation of two factors Disadvantage: Can’t conclusively rule out alternative explanations for the association (i.e. low internal validity) 3. Laboratory experiment: The researcher controls extraneous factors by making them the same across conditions, then manipulates the independent variable to result in different conditions and systematically measures resulting changes in the dependent variable. Advantage: Rules out alternative explanations
Disadvantages: Artificial setting, subjects, task, so don’t know if effects found generalize to other situations. (i.e.,...
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