Organizations are complex systems which rely on people, structures and technology to achieve their goals and objectives. They are created to serve the needs of the societies or communities in which they operate and are influenced by both their internal environment (culture) and their external environment. As defined by Robins “an organization is a continuously co-ordinated social unit of two or more people that functions on a relatively continuous basis to achieve a common goal or set of goals” (Robins 2005).
Organizational Behaviour Defined
Behaviour on the other hand, he defines simply as “the actions of people (Robins 2005). Organization behaviour (often referred to as OB) is the behaviour (actions) of individuals and groups within organizations and the interaction between organizations and their external environment. It constitutes a behavioural science field of study that borrows its core concepts from other disciplines, principally psychology, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and political science (Coffey, Cole and Hunsaker, 1996).
The Goals of Organizational Behaviour
For organizations to be effective (doing the right things) and efficient (doing things right), those persons (managers) charged with the responsibility of planning, organizing, directing and controlling the affairs of organizations must have an understanding of and appreciation for the dynamics which result when people and technology are brought together for a common purpose. They must be able to:
Describe systematically how people behave under a variety of conditions.
Understand why people behave as they do.
Predict future employee behaviour.
Control (partially) some of the human activity at work.
This essay seeks to demonstrate why OB is a multi-disciplinary subject by examining the contribution made to this field of study by disciplines such as: 1.
Psychology. Psychology focuses directly on understanding and predicting individual behaviour.
Sociology. Sociology studies how individuals interact with one another social systems.
Social Psychology. Social Psychology is a behavioural science hybrid that integrates psychology and sociology to study why individuals behave as they do in groups.
Anthropology. Anthropology studies the relationships between individuals and their environment and how person or a group adapts to its environment.
Political Science. Political science studies individuals and groups in government and public policy-making environments and has relevance to OB through its focus on power, conflict and rivalry. (Coffey et.al, Management and Organisation Behaviour, 1st ed, USA, Austin Press, 1994, p. 577).
Origins of Management and Organizational Behaviour
Organisational behaviour is one of six major approaches (theories) of management. It is preceded by scientific management, the general administrative theory and the quantitative approach and is the fore-runner to the systems and contingency approaches, (Stephen R Robins and Mary Coutler, Management 11th ed. Pearson Prentice Hall, USA 2005, pg 27). Management, practices have been around for centuries. However, it was the onset of the industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, characterised by the demise of the cottage industry and the introduction of factories, that emphasised the need for a scientific approach to management. This approach was born out of the idea that individuals can be taught to manage. The most noticeable theorist in this regard is Fredrick W Taylor who is considered by most as the founder of scientific management. His focus was at the operational level of management and his best two works, shop management (Taylor 1912) and the principles of scientific management (Taylor 1919) are concerned with improving the tools and methods used by the workers. His experiments led him to develop concepts relative to...
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