Unifying Principles of
ABSTRACT Theories and models of organizational behavior and management continue to increase in number and complexity. While much of the recent research has not made its way into standard business textbooks, these textbooks nonetheless offer a broad array of topics and concepts that can easily overwhelm both student and practitioner. No common thread appears to link these disparate topics, despite the fact that variations on the same theory often can be found across topics. This paper describes four underlying principles of organizational behavior and management that distill and synthesize essential features of many of the established theories and models. Each principle is described in terms of two concepts, which can be viewed as dichotomous, continuous, or paradoxical measures of the principle, and applied independently or in combination to explain representative theories. The implications of these underlying principles for teaching organizational behavior and management as well as for conducting organizational analyses are discussed.
INTRODUCTION For several decades, business schools have offered introductory courses in management principles, organizational theory, and organizational behavior. One or more of these courses is generally among the eight to ten required/core courses in a bachelors or masters degree in business. These management courses draw from a wide variety of sciences, including psychology, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, political science, and systems theory. Concepts and theories from both pure and applied science are introduced to help explain the nature of life in organizations in terms of personality, motivation, communication, planning and control, decision making, leadership, power, conflict, job design, teambuilding, organizational design, organizational culture, and change (Miner, 2002). In part because these topics are drawn from so many
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