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The simplest definition of the field of organizational behavior is the study of the behavior of individuals in organizations. This includes all types of business organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and social organizations. Theorists and researchers studying the behavior of individuals in organizational settings attempt to explain and predict patterns of behaviors of organizational members: their direction and amount of effort, their levels of performance, and their membership and tenure within these organizations. WHAT DO WE LEARN WHEN WE STUDY ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR? Students of organizational behavior (when they're successful) leave their study with three outcomes: 1. A set of mental models or theories (we will use these two terms interchangeably) that guide them in understanding and predicting the behavior of individuals in organizational and group settings. These mental models will be the combined result of the students' readings, discussions, and personal experiences. 2. A set of interpersonal/leadership skills and competencies that increases the students' ability to motivate and influence individuals in organizations. 3. An increased ability to solve problems and make human resource decisions. This involves the development of diagnostic models used to diagnose the causes of behavioral problems, and the development of a bank of potential solutions to behavioral problems. The Nature Of Theories Many students and managers are put off by the word ³theory.´ They want to learn real world techniques to help them become better managers. They believe that textbooks do not generally represent the real world. We often hear comments like, ³that's fine in theory, but it doesn't work in the real world.´ To some extent, this is true. The formal theories found in textbooks often do not represent every situation found in actual organizations. On the other hand, every decision that we, as managers, make is based on the theory (or mental model) of how and why people behave in organizations. Let's examine what theory is and how our problem solving and decision-making processes are based on our personal mental models (also called theories-in-use). What Is A Theory Or Mental Model? In its simplest terms, a theory is a causal relationship between two variables. The belief structure of managers can be represented as a complex set of mental models, which they use for diagnosing problems and making decisions. For example, a manager who believes that employee performance is increased by increasing employee satisfaction, might do everything in her power to keep employees satisfied in an effort to improve their level of performance. Here, her actions are based on a very simple mental model comprised of two variables: a dependent variable (employee performance), and an independent variable (employee satisfaction). We can represent this mental model as:
the individual believes that the dependent variable (in this case. If managers are experiencing low employee performance. When managers believe that the same independent variable affects different people differently or affects people differently in different situations. that is. You will become more aware of the mental models that you use in problem solving 2. As a practical matter. Your mental models will become more accurate as you combine your experience with the experience of your classmates and the material presented throughout this course Decision-making.Employee Satisfaction --¾ Employee Performance There are two major ways in which this simple mental model will affect the problem solving and decision-making of managers who hold this mental model: Diagnosis. that is. If a manager holds the simple model above. Managers use the predictive power of their mental models in making decisions among alternative courses of action. WHY IS ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR SO DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN AND PREDICT? Since we have spent many years developing and refining theories of organizational behavior. When we have many independent variables. they will turn to their mental models of employee performance in diagnosing these problems. to explain the variance in a dependent variable. managers hold more complex mental models. she will attribute this problem to employee dissatisfaction (because this is the only independent variable in her model). Mental models become more complex when managers introduce moderator variables to their causal models. One of the functions of a theory is explanation. Complex mental models have more independent variables. Moderator variables divide the population into different groups or different situations. accurate or inaccurate. managers always use the mental models that they presently hold in diagnosing the causes of problems. they have introduced a moderator variable to their mental model. then whenever she experiences cases of low employee performance. You will develop the ability to continually challenge and improve your mental models 3. diagnose. why is it so difficult to understand. then one of the outcomes will be that: 1.A second function of a theory is prediction. Whether their models are simple or complex. employee performance) is caused by more than just employee satisfaction. Some of the reasons are: . You will develop more complex models that contain more independent variables and more moderator (individual differences and situational) variables 4. managers use the explanatory power of their mental models in diagnosing the cause of behavioral problems. that is. to predict how changes in one variable (the independent variable) change another variable (the dependent variable). and solve behavioral problems within organizations? There are number of reasons why individual behavior is difficult to predict and control. If this course is successful. diagnosis becomes more difficult in that we have to choose among the combination of independent variables to determine what is causing the performance problem. In most cases.
These theories-in-use drive our managerial decision-making and problem solving. Whether you are dealing with a few employees are many. while accurate in many cases. every time we make a decision or solve a problem. and justifies the importance of changing that behavior. It is therefore in our best interests to understand our own theories-in-use and work to make them more accurate and useful. we do so based on our own set of theories.Complexity. while others represent very different background assumptions (paradigms) about the nature of human behavior. we use some type of behavioral problem solving process. As you will soon find out. Human behavior is extremely complex. It is . as I have argued before. organizations attempt to change behavioral patterns of hundreds of employees. Behavioral Problem Solving And Case Analysis Whether we are managers are not. Stages are briefly described below. This conflict leads to confusion and indecision on the part of managers as to which models to use. the prediction of behavior involves many independent variables and multiple moderator variables. It helps me focus on the important variables. Oftentimes they are dealing with behavior of a single individual. The simple models. In order to deal with this complexity. Conflict Among Theorist. In other cases. When we guess incorrectly. that is. that is. there are many models of individual behavior and motivation. In this problem solving framework. Many of the variables found in models of motivation and performance are internal to the individual. we all solve behavioral problems every day. Below I describe a behavioral problem solving process that does works for me. the problem solver is guided through a series of problem solving stages. THE USE OF THEORIES AND MODELS Despite the inherent weaknesses in many formal theories. Difficulty of Measurement. we attempt to develop relatively simple models of behavior. making a quick decision as to what to do. Whenever we attempt to intervene or change the behavior of others. As managers. Some attempt to explain different aspects of individual decisionmaking and motivation. Managers in organizations confront behavioral problems on a daily basis. perceptions. and they are the basis of the development of our style of leadership. STAGES OF THE BEHAVIORAL PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS Problem Identification Behavioral problem solving begins with the identification of the specific behavior that is either dysfunctional or that you wish to change. is helpful to use a problem solving framework that guides you through a decision-making process in a structured way. and helps me from becoming sidetracked by irrelevant information. Each stage is dependent upon decisions made in the previous stage. they are mental states. our predictions are inaccurate. or feelings held by the individuals of which we are attempting to predict. It identifies the specific group of employees whose behavior is in question. we can only guess at these internal variables. fail to capture the full complexity of human behavior and thus are often inaccurate. Check the hyperlink at the end of this section for a more detailed description of this behavioral problem solving framework.
We will develop a number of motivational diagnostic models in Module 2. which is the difference between expected/desired employee behavior and actual/observed employee behavior. Solution Choice In choosing among the alternative solutions. The key outcome of the Problem Identification Stage is the specification of the Behavioral Gap (also called the Performance Gap). if it is determined that the first level cause of the Behavioral Gap is low motivation. than the second level diagnoses would attempt to determine the root causes of low motivation. This level of diagnosis is used to determine which of the four fundamental causes of performance is attributable to the performance problem (Motivation. Skills. or Resources). these problems should not be defined in terms of attitudes.generally helpful to relate the desired behavior to the organization's competitive advantage. the problem solver identifies what he or she believes to be causes of the Behavioral Gap. but also the evaluation of the decision-making process. Most successful managers use complex theories of motivation to help them with this part of the analysis. we list a number of potential solutions to our behavioral problem. This is especially important if the chosen solution did not eliminate or reduce the behavioral gap. and What can we do next time to insure a better result? . Were the mental models used in our process accurate?. and likely effect on other organizational stakeholders. we consider cost-effectiveness. Evaluation of the process involves questions such as: Were the right people involved?. These potential solutions should be aimed directly at changing the behavior specified in the behavioral gap and should be consistent with the causes outlined in the diagnosis stage. This process starts with a First Level Diagnosis. Likewise. Did the process we used have an adverse effect on the solution chosen?. For example. ease of implementation. Solution Evaluation An often forgotten stage of the problem solving process is the evaluation of the effectiveness of not only the solution chosen (did it eliminate the behavioral gap). likelihood of success. It is important to refrain from the attribution of causes of the Behavioral Gap in this stage of the problem solving process. personality. Solution Generation In this stage process. or other variables that you believe are causing the Behavioral Gap Diagnosis In the diagnosis stage. This diagnosis may reveal that the Behavioral Gap is a function of more than one of these fundamental causes. Role Perception. The Second Level Diagnosis attempts to uncover the root causes of the first level cause. the level of disruption to other systems.
Not conducting pilot testing can then immediately progress the research process or reduce the total cost of the research but it can possibly have negative longterm effects. The pilot test can not only indicate incorrect information be gathered but can also provide some indication as to whether the proper research questions have been asked. Pilot testing can indicate whether more in-depth research is required thus providing a possible cost reduction or a better justification for proceeding with a higher cost project. When the research questions being asked do not answer the true management questions then the conducted research will be useless.The text discussed that often pilot testing is not done to both reduce costs and also to reduce the total research time. Useless research is a wasted expense. . By not conducting pilot testing your research results may suffer because the proper information is not being gathered. A pilot test often provides indication of problems with the data gathering process. There may also be an overall increased cost with no additional benefit when no pilot testing has been completed.
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