Saturday, February 14, 2009

Operating Definition of Organizational Behavior

Classical organization theory, evolved during the first half of this century, did not account for the needs of diverse workforce. It represented the merger of scientific management, bureaucratic theory, and administrative theory. This theory had four basic principles: find the best way to perform each task, carefully match each worker to each task, closely supervise workers, and use reward and punishment as motivators. Working through these principles, the task of management was planning and control. While this management theory proved successful in simple industrialized companies at the turn of the century, it had not played well in modern companies. The philosophy of production first, people second, left a legacy of declining production and quality, dissatisfaction with work, loss of pride in workmanship, and a near complete loss of organizational pride.

According to the textbook, organizational structure is described as a mechanism through which effort is integrated through the coordination and control of activities, symbolic management, and the management of organizational culture. Such mechanism has recently been described as a mechanism that directs behavior through shared values, norms, and goals. However, since each mechanism is unique in its impact on individual behavior, the effects of each should be analyzed separately and then synthesized for a deeper understanding of the functional roles of structural and cultural forces in the workplace. If an organization is to direct behavior towards the accomplishment of a strategic mission, and present itself to stakeholders as a unified form, mechanisms must be created for reducing this variability among individuals and focusing employee efforts on the accomplishment of strategic goals. According to Maslow, “determining that low-level needs must be satisfied before higher-level needs can be met.” A relationship between organizational culture and organizational structure is needed because there will be a lack of structure and an inability to systematize the needs of everyone in the workplace. In developing such a model, organizations are information-processing entities that develop different mechanisms to reduce uncertainty in achieving effectiveness. Effectiveness is obtained when employees engage in behaviors in a consistent manner to achieve strategic goals of the firm. Uncertainty exists when there is a gap between the amount of information possessed and what is required to perform a task. Therefore, without structure or accountability, it is difficult to achieve strategic goals.

Organizational culture is often defined in terms of shared experiences -- patterns of beliefs, rituals, symbols, and myths that evolve over time. These patterns serve to reduce human variability and control, and shape employee behavior in organizations. The development of organizational culture is a natural process, which occurs regardless of the intent of executive leadership, although management may influence it. While organizations may develop a relatively homogeneous culture, unique and divergent sub-cultures may evolve for separate departments or sub-groups within the organization.

The information gathered through the study of OB helps managers identify problems and determine how to correct them. The gathered information also helps managers develop their interpersonal or people skills to be effective in their jobs. OB can help managers learn ways to stimulate innovation and offers them guidance in creating an ethically healthy work climate. Although different organizations may perform the same functions or have the same goals, each organization still remains unique in its culture, social structure and work force. A diverse group of people within the organization is one of the most important factors in shaping and changing the overall behavior within the organization.

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