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Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour



After reading this chapter, students should be able to:
Define organizational behaviour and give three reasons for studying this field of inquiry.
Discuss how globalization influences organizational behaviour.
Summarize the apparent benefits and challenges of telework.
Identify changes in Canada’s work force in recent years.
Describe employability and contingent work.
Explain why values have gained importance in organizations.
Define corporate social responsibility and argue for or against its application in
Identify the five anchors on which organizational behaviour is based.
Diagram an organization from an open systems view.
Define knowledge management and intellectual capital.
Identify specific ways that organizations acquire and share knowledge.


communities of practice Informal groups bound corporate social responsibility (CSR) An

together by shared expertise and passion for a organization’s moral obligation towards its
particular activity or interest. stakeholders.
contingency approach The idea that a particular employability An employment relationship in which
action may have different consequences in different people are expected to continually develop their skills
situations. to remain employed.
contingent work Any job in which the individual ethics The study of moral principles or values that
does not have an explicit or implicit contract for long- determine whether actions are right or wrong and
term employment, or one in which the minimum hours outcomes are good or bad.
of work can vary in a nonsystematic way.

Part 1 Introduction

globalization When an organization organizational culture The basic pattern

extends its activities to other parts of the of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs
world, actively participating in other governing the way employees within an
markets, and competing against organization think about and act on
organizations located in other countries. problems and opportunities.
grafting The process of acquiring organizational learning The knowledge
knowledge by hiring individuals or buying management process in which
entire companies. organizations acquire, share, and use
knowledge to succeed.
grounded theory A process adopted in
most qualitative research of developing organizational memory The storage and
knowledge through the constant interplay preservation of intellectual capital.
of data collection, analysis, and theory
organizations Groups of people who work
interdependently toward some purpose.
intellectual capital The sum of an organization’s
scientific method A set of principles and
human capital, structural capital, and relationship
procedures that help researchers to
systematically understand previously
knowledge management Any structured activity that unexplained events and conditions.
improves an organization’s capacity to acquire, share,
stakeholders Shareholders, customers,
and use knowledge in ways that improve its survival
suppliers, governments, and any other
and success.
groups with a vested interest in the
open systems Organizations that take organization.
their sustenance from the environment and,
teleworking Working from home, usually
in turn, affect that environment through
with a computer connection to the office;
their output.
also called telecommuting
organizational behaviour (OB) The
values Stable, long-lasting beliefs about
study of what people think, feel, and do in
what is important in a variety of situations.
and around organizations.
virtual teams Teams whose members
operate across space, time, and
organizational boundaries and linked
through information technologies to
achieve organizational tasks.


Organizational behaviour is a relatively young field of There are several trends in organizational
inquiry that studies what people think, feel, and do in behaviour. Globalization requires corporate decision
and around organizations. Organizations are groups of makers to be more sensitive to cultural differences,
people who work interdependently toward some and seems to be associated with the recent rise in job
purpose. OB concepts help us to predict and insecurity, work intensification, and other sources of
understand organizational events, adopt more accurate work-related stress. Information technology blurs the
theories of reality, and influence organizational events. temporal and spatial boundaries between individuals
This field of knowledge also improves the and the organizations that employ them. It has
organization’s financial health. contributed to the growth of telework -- an alternative
work arrangement where employees work at home or a

Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour

remote site, usually with a computer connection to the together to continually monitor and transact with the
office. Information technology is also a vital external environment. They acquire resources from the
ingredient in virtual teams -- cross-functional groups environment, transform them through technology, and
that operate across space, time, and organizational return outputs to the environment. The external
boundaries. environment consists of the natural and social
Another trend in organizations is the increasingly conditions outside the organization. External
diverse workforce. Diversity potentially improves environments are generally much more turbulent
decision making, team performance, and customer today, so organizations must become adaptable and
service, but it also presents new challenges. A fourth responsive.
trend is the employment relationships that have Knowledge management develops an
emerged from the changing work force, information organization’s capacity to acquire, share, and use
technology, and globalization forces. Employment knowledge in ways that improves its survival and
relationship trends include employability and success. Intellectual capital is knowledge that resides
contingent work. Values and ethics represent the fifth in an organization, including its human capital,
trend. In particular, companies are learning to apply structural capital, and relationship capital. It is a firm’s
values in a global environment, and are under pressure main source of competitive advantage. Organizations
to abide by ethical values and higher standards of acquire knowledge through grafting, individual
corporate social responsibility. learning, and experimentation. Knowledge sharing
Organizational behaviour scholars rely on a set of occurs mainly through various forms of
basic beliefs to study organizations. These anchors communication. Knowledge sharing includes
include beliefs that OB knowledge should be communities of practice, networks where people share
multidisciplinary and based on systematic research, their expertise and passion for a particular activity or
that organizational events usually have contingencies, interest. Knowledge use occurs when employees
that organizational behaviour can be viewed from realize that the knowledge is available and that they
three levels of analysis (individual, team, and have enough freedom to apply it. Organizational
organization), and that organizations are open systems. memory refers to the storage and preservation of
The open systems anchor suggests that intellectual capital.
organizations have interdependent parts that work

Canadian Organizational Behaviour includes a complete set of Microsoft PowerPoint® files for each chapter. (Please
contact your McGraw-Hill Ryerson representative to find out how instructors can receive these files.) In the lecture
outline that follows, a thumbnail illustration of each PowerPoint slide for this chapter is placed beside the
corresponding lecture material. The slide number helps you to see your location in the slide show sequence and to skip
slides that you don’t want to show to the class. (To jump ahead or back to a particular slide, just type the slide number
and hit the Enter or Return key.) The transparency masters for this chapter are very similar to the PowerPoint files.

Part 1 Introduction

LECTURE OUTLINE (with PowerPoint slides)



Introduction to the Field of

Organizational Behaviour
Slide 1

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts have leveraged the power of
organizational behaviour to become one of the top luxury hotels in the
world as well as one of the best places to work.
• CEO Isadore Sharp emphasizes the importance of relying
Four Seasons and OB on the creativity of its staff and maintaining a culture that
Slide 2
supports employee involvement.
• Four Seasons pays close attention to employee
competencies, corporate culture, leadership,
communication, motivation, organizational structure


Organizational behaviour (OB) -- study of what people think, feel,
and do in and around organizations.

What are Organizations?

Slide 3
Organizations -- groups of people who work interdependently toward
some purpose
• Structured patterns of interaction -- expect each other to
complete certain tasks in a coordinated way
• Organizations have purpose -- e.g. producing oil from oil
sands or selling books on the Internet.
Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour


1. Satisfy the need to understand and predict
• Helps us figure out why organizational events happen
2. Helps us to test personal theories
Why Study OB? • Helps to question and rebuild personal theories
Slide 4
3. Influence our environment
• Improves our ability to work with people and influence
organizational events


1. Globalization
Trends:Globalization • SAP, the German software giant and others operate in a
Slide 5
global economy
-- activities in other parts of the world, participates in
other markets, competes against organizations located
• Requires new organizational structures and different forms
of communication
• Adds more diversity to the workforce.
• Increases competitive pressures, mergers, work
intensification and demands for work flexibility from

2. Information Technology & OB

• Re-designs jobs, facilitates competitive advantage through
Trends: Information knowledge management.
Slide 6
• Telework (telecommuting) –alternative work arrangement
-- working from home, usually with a computer
connection to the office
-- need to replace face time with performance output
-- changes employment relationship expectations
• Virtual teams
-- operate across space, time, and organizational
boundaries with members who communicate mainly
through electronic technologies

Part 1 Introduction

3. Changing Work Force

• More diversity
-- primary categories – gender, age, ethnicity, etc.
-- secondary categories -- some control over (eg.
Trends: Workforce
education, marital status)
Slide 7 -- more women in workforce
-- new age cohorts (eg. Generation-X, Generation Y)
• Implications
-- leverage diversity advantage (e.g. decision making,
provide better customer service).
-- adjust to the new workforce -- e.g. Gen-X employees
value flexibility and opportunities to use new
technology; Gen-Y employees expect responsibility and
Slide 8
4. Emerging employment relationships
• Employability
-- many tasks, not a specific job
-- need to continuously learn skills
• Contingent work
-- no explicit or implicit contract for long-term
Employability vs Job
employment, or minimum hours of work can vary in a
Security nonsystematic way
Slide 9

5. Workplace Values and Ethics

• Values – stable, long-lasting beliefs about what is
• Ethics -- the study of moral principles or values that
determine whether actions are right or wrong and
Trends: Workplace Values
& Ethics
outcomes are good or bad
Slide 10
Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour


• Corporate social responsibility -- an organization’s moral
obligation toward all of its stakeholders
• Stakeholders -- shareholders, customers, suppliers,
governments, and any other groups with a vested interest
Corporate Social
Responsibility in the organization
Slide 11 • Triple bottom line
-- part of corporate social responsibility
-- supporting economic, social, and environmental
spheres of sustainability
• Various stakeholders (job applicants, current employees,
and suppliers) associate with firms based on their CSR
• Many firms talk about their CSR, but few practise CSR or
have their actions evaluated


Org. Behaviour Anchors 1. Multidisciplinary anchor
Slide 12 • Many OB concepts adopted from other disciplines
-- e.g. psychology concepts in motivation, perceptions
-- emerging fields: communication, information systems,
marketing, womens’ studies
• OB is developing its own models and theories, but needs
to continue scanning other fields for ideas.

Part 1 Introduction

2. Systematic research anchor

• OB researchers rely on scientific method -- a set of
principles and procedures that help researchers
systematically understand previously unexplained events
and conditions.
• OB also adopting a grounded theory approach – dynamic
and cyclical approach that provides constant interplay
between data gathering and developing theoretical
3. Contingency anchor
• A particular action may have different consequences in
different situations -- no single solution is best in all
• Need to diagnose the situation and select best strategy
under those conditions
• Universal theories welcomed where contingency theories
offer little advantage
4. Multiple levels of analysis anchor
• OB issues can be studied from individual, team, and/or
organizational level
• Topics identified at one level, but usually relate to all three
5. Open systems anchor
• Open systems -- organizations consist of interdependent
parts that work together to continually monitor and transact
with the external environment
Open Systems Anchor of • Receives inputs and transforms them through technology
OB (build)
Slide 13
into outputs that are returned to the external environment
• Some output valued (services), but other output have
adverse effects (eg., layoffs, pollution)
• External environment -- natural and social conditions
outside the organization
-- stakeholders – anyone with a vested interest in the
-- environment is increasingly turbulent – rapid change
• Organizations need to adapt to external environment
• Need to coordinate subsystems and be aware of unintended
Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour

Any structured activity that improves an organization’s capacity to
acquire, share, and use knowledge for its survival and success

Knowledge Management Intellectual capital

Slide 14 • Knowledge residing in the organization
-- sum of its human, structural, and relationship capital
1. Human capital -- employees possess and generate
2. Structural capital -- captured in systems and structures
3. Relationship capital -- value derived from external
stakeholders (eg., customer loyalty)
Intellectual Capital
Slide 15


Knowledge management at Clarica Life Insurance Company
• Clarica Life Insurance Company uses its company-wide
Intranet (called Clarica Connects) to help agents develop
Knowledge Management and share their expertise in ways that generate innovative
at Clarica
Slides 16

1. Knowledge acquisition -- organization's ability to extract

information and ideas from its environment as well as through insight
• Grafting -- acquiring knowledge by hiring individuals or
buying entire companies
Knowledge Management • Individual learning -- learning about external environment
• Experimentation -- creativity, insight
Slides 17
2. Knowledge sharing -- distributing knowledge to where it is needed
in the organization
• Communication -- intranets, face-to-face, teams, etc.
-- communities of practice -- informal groups bound
together by shared expertise and passion for a particular
activity or interest
• Rewards -- encourages info sharing

Part 1 Introduction

3. Knowledge use
• Knowledge awareness – know that relevant knowledge is
• Freedom to apply knowledge

Organizational memory -- storage and preservation of intellectual

capital -- includes employee knowledge and embedded knowledge
Retaining intellectual capital
Organizational Memory • Keeping good employees
Slide 18
• Transferring knowledge from one person to the next
• Transferring human capital to structural capital
Organizations also need to “unlearn”
• Cast off routines and patterns of behaviour that are no
longer appropriate

Transparency 1.1: What are Organizations?
Transparency 1.2: Why Study Organizational Behaviour?
Transparency 1.3: Trends: Globalization
Transparency 1.4: Trends: Information Technology
Transparency 1.5 Trends: Workplace Diversity
Transparency 1.6: Trends: Employment Relationship
Transparency 1.7: Employability vs Job Security
Transparency 1.8: Trends: Workplace Values & Ethics
Transparency 1.9: Corporate Social Responsibility
Transparency 1.10: Organizational. Behaviour Anchors
Transparency 1.11: Open Systems Anchor of OB
Transparency 1.12: Knowledge Management Defined
Transparency 1.13: Intellectual Capital
Transparency 1.14: Knowledge Management Processes
Transparency 1.15: Organizational Memory Defined
Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour


1. A friend suggests that organizational behaviour 2. Look through the list of chapters in this textbook
courses are only useful to people who will enter and discuss how information technology could
management careers. Discuss the accuracy of your influence each organizational behaviour topic.
friend's statement.
This is an open-ended question which could be
According to the textbook, the friend’s used as an exercise activity with subsequent class
perspective of organizational behaviour is discussion. The main objective is to help students
inaccurate. Organizational behaviour has direct understand how computer technology has
implications for influencing organizational events, profound implications for behaviour in
such as making better decisions, structuring organizations.
organizations to fit the surrounding environment,
The word “computer” appears in most chapters of
improving individual performance, building
this book. Here are some of the topics linked to
employee commitment, and helping work teams
information technology. Students will certainly
operate more effectively. At a more interpersonal
identify others:
level, OB theories prescribe ways to persuade and
negotiate, manage conflict, and communicate with • Telecommuting
others in organizational settings. • Computer feedback
• Computer monitoring
These practices may seem most appropriate for
• Computer-based learning
senior and middle managers, but they are relevant
• Effect of computers on job design
to everyone who works in and around
• E-mail and other computer-mediated
organizations. Everyone needs to master the
knowledge and skills required to work more
• Virtual teams
effectively with people in organizational settings.
• Using computer technology to integrate the
Organizations have been reducing entire layers of
work unit’s technological with social system
management and passing control of work
• Computer-based decision support systems
processes over to nonmanagement employees. As
• Electronic brainstorming
this happens, the organizational behaviour
• Computers as substitutes for labour
concepts described in this book will become more
• Organizational politics of computer-based
important than ever before to employees at all
information sharing
• Computer-based negotiation
Besides the value of OB courses for influencing • Computer technology as a driver of
organizational events, this knowledge helps us to organizational change
predict and understand organizational events. • Computers and free agents
Organizations affect virtually every part of our • Web-based career postings
lives, so it only makes sense that we should be • Computers connecting network structures
interested in knowing when, how, and why
3. “Organizational theories should follow the
organizational events occur -- no matter what
contingency approach.” Comment on the accuracy
position we hold in the organization.
of this statement.
Finally, organizational behaviour helps us to test
OB theories must be simple, yet accurate. While
the numerous personal theories that we have
simplicity calls for universal theories, accuracy
already formed to make sense of the work world.
usually requires the contingency approach because
OB concepts and theories help to confirm and
most human behaviour is too complex to
challenge our personal theories as well as adopt
understand sufficiently through universal (i.e., one
new perspectives of reality. In the long run, this
best way) theories. Contingency theories are more
knowledge will help everyone to improve their
refined because they recognize that environmental
personal effectiveness and wellbeing in
and personal characteristics moderate most cause-
organizational settings.
effect relationships. In other words, while it would
be preferable to use universal theories for the sake

Part 1 Introduction

of simplicity, we often must rely on contingency oil company would not have found land with oil
theories to sufficiently understand and predict deposit’s unless it had the knowledge to find that
organizational behaviour. oil. It could not operate the equipment to extract
and refine the oil unless it had enough knowledge.
4. Employees in the City of Calgary’s water
distribution unit were put into teams and The executive’s comment that companies could
encouraged to find ways to improve efficiency. not remain in business with only knowledge. On
The teams boldly crossed departmental boundaries the contrary, some of the wealthiest organizations
and areas of management discretion in search of (including many software companies and
problems. Employees working in other parts of the consulting firms) have few physical assets. Banks
City of Calgary began to complain about these are selling off their corporate headquarters
intrusions. Moreover, when some team ideas were because their competitive advantage -- their
implemented, the city managers discovered that a source of wealth -- is found in knowledge. Oil
dollar saved in the water distribution unit may companies are also outsourcing several aspects of
have cost the organization two dollars elsewhere. physical assets. Their ships are often owned by
Use the open systems anchor to explain others. The drilling equipment is leased or owned
what happened here by companies that specialize in drilling. The
major oil companies today are mainly in the
[NOTE: This discussion question is based on a
knowledge business -- scouting for oil or
real incident in Calgary. For details, see: B.
marketing what others have found and extracted.
Sheehy, “A Near-Run Thing: An Inside Look at a
Public-Sector Productivity Program,” National This question also suggests a subtle
Productivity Review, Spring 1985, pp. 139-145.] misunderstanding by the executive about
knowledge management. Although much
This incident illustrates that organizations are
corporate knowledge resides in the brains of its
open systems with many interdependent parts that
employees (called human capital), it also resides
function as a whole to achieve a set of goals. This
in the organization’s systems and structures
city has many subunits with close links to each
(known as structural capital).
other. When the water distribution unit employees
tried to improve efficiency, the interdependence 6. Fully describe intellectual capital, and explain
of these subsystems became apparent. Some of how an organization can retain this capital.
the actions that improved productivity in one area
Intellectual capital is the sum of an organization's
sent ripples through other parts of the
human capital, organizational capital, and
organization. In other words, other departments
relationship capital. Human capital refers to the
and subunits had to adapt to changes implemented
knowledge that employees possess and generate.
in the TDS area. Indeed, savings in one area
Structural capital is the knowledge captured and
sometimes resulted in increased costs in another
retained in an organization's systems and
structures. Relationship capital is the value
5. After hearing a seminar on knowledge derived from satisfied customers, reliable
management, an oil company executive suppliers, and other external sources that provide
argues that this perspective ignores the fact added value.
that that oil companies could not rely on
Retaining intellectual capital refers to the
knowledge alone to stay in business. They
discussion in the textbook about retaining
also need physical capital (such as pumps and
organizational memory. This includes keeping
drill bits) and land (where the oil is located).
good employees and systematically transferring
In fact, these two may be more important than
their human capital into structural capital when
what employees carry around in their heads.
they must leave. It also includes documentation --
Discuss the merits of the oil executive’s
bringing out hidden knowledge, organizing it, and
putting it in a form that can be available to others.
Although less common, many executives still see It also includes embedding knowledge in the
value in land and capital. They give lip service to organization’s systems and structures.
the idea that “People are our most value assets”
7. An information technology consultant recently
but still don’t understand that land and capital
stated that over 30 percent of U.S. companies use
have little value without people. For instance, this
software to manage documents and exchange
Chapter 1 Introduction to the Field of Organizational Behaviour

information, whereas Canadian firms are just information more quickly. There is little
beginning to adopt this technology. Based on this, knowledge within BusNews about how to use
he concluded that “knowledge management in these computer technologies. Based on the
Canada is at its beginning stages”; in other words, knowledge acquisition processes for knowledge
that few Canadian firms practise knowledge management, explain how BusNews might gain
management. Comment on this consultant’s the intellectual capital necessary to become more
statement. competitive in this respect.
This information technology consultant has a This incident calls for an analysis of the different
limited view of knowledge management. strategies to acquire organizational knowledge.
Specifically, he sees knowledge management The textbook briefly describes three knowledge
purely as knowledge sharing, particularly through acquisition strategies:
intranets and other computer technologies.
Individual Learning. This is a viable strategy,
But knowledge management consists of much but is relatively slow, given that other news
more than knowledge sharing. It also includes providers already have this knowledge.
knowledge acquisition and knowledge use.
Grafting. This is the process of acquiring
Knowledge acquisition includes the organization’s
knowledge by hiring individuals or buying entire
ability to extract information and ideas from its
companies. This is probably the most effective
environment as well as through insight
approach for BusNews because hiring
Knowledge use refers to applying knowledge.
knowledgeable employees are acquiring a
8. BusNews Ltd. is the leading stock market and company with this knowledge would provide the
business news service. Over the past two years, intellectual capital quickly.
BusNews has experienced increased competition
Experimentation. This is a useful support
from other news providers. These competitors
strategy but, as with scanning, requires some
have brought in Internet and other emerging
knowledge base in computer technology to make
computer technologies to link customers with
this strategy effective.

Part 1 Introduction



Syncrude Canada
Q: In your opinion, what organizational behaviour Vancouver City Savings Credit
concepts described in this book would have the Union
greatest influence on the success of Syncrude and Q: Why do organizations such as VanCity apply the
other mammoth projects? triple bottom line, whereas most companies in Canada
A: This is a question for classroom debate. Some do not?
students might say that this photo caption emphasizes A: Students may need to speculate somewhat on the
organizational structure. Others might suggest that answer to this question. The most likely answer is that
communication plays a major role in the success of many corporate leaders are so focused on short-term
major projects. Teams will likely be mentioned as shareholder value that they fail to see that satisfying
another OB concept. the needs of other stakeholders is often in the best
long-term interest of shareholders. Moreover, these
Banana Magazine leaders are rewarded for their fairly short-term
Q: How do magazines such as Banana encourage financial performance, not the firm’s long-term
multiculturalism in Canada? survival and success. A third factor may be the
inherent ambiguity regarding the benefits of satisfying
A: To answer this question, it would be great if the the needs of stakeholders other than sahareholders.
instructor had a copy of this (or a similar) magazine to
illustrate the material within the magazine. However,
generally, these magazines celebrate cultural
Clarica Life Insurance Company
differences and recognize that people with different Q: Along with independent sales agents, what other
backgrounds can adapt and live successfully within professional groups would benefit from an intranet-
this diversity. based community of practice

A: Basically, any knowledge-oriented group would

benefit from a community of practice because they
have the opportunity for knowledge sharing.
Commonly mentioned examples are engineers
working in different regions for an organization,
academics in specific fields of study, and medical
These case notes were prepared by Fiona McQuarrie, University College of the Fraser Valley

Case Synopsis
After the birth of her daughter, Irina, a mortgage officer, decided to telecommute to her job while working at home.
The arrangement is not working as well as she had hoped, because of her isolation from the office and because of
problems with establishing a working atmosphere at home. Her employer has told her that if her work doesn’t improve
within the next month, she will have to return to regular working hours at the office.
Although the workplace and the characters in the case are fictional, the problems encountered by Irina and her
employer are all taken from studies of real-life telecommuting arrangements. (See, for example, Andrew DuBrin,
“Comparison of the Job Satisfaction and Productivity of Telecommuters versus In-House Employees”, Psychological
Reports, June 1991, pp. 1223-1234; Fiona A. E. McQuarrie, “Telecommuting: Who Really Benefits?”, Business
Horizons, November-December 1994, pp. 79-83; Margrethe H. Olson and Sophia B. Primps, “Working at Home with
Computers: Work and Non-Work Issues”, Journal of Social Issues, Fall 1984, pp. 97-112; Barbara J. Risman and
Donald Tomaskovic-Dewey, “The Social Construction of Technology: Microcomputers and the Organization of
Work”, Business Horizons, May-June 1989, pp. 71-75.)

1. What are the major problems in this This question could generate some interesting
telecommuting arrangement? debates about the worker’s and the employer’s
responsibilities in ensuring satisfactory working
There are several major problems that can be
conditions. Irina proposed the telecommuting
identified in this case. First, Irina is having trouble
arrangement, so it could be said that she should
working at home where there is no suitable
have realized the problem of trying to work and
physical space for her to work, and while she is
care for a baby, and the difficulties that her
attempting to simultaneously work and care for a
physical and social isolation from the office could
newborn baby. Clients have also complained to
cause. There are also some problems in projecting
the employer about distractions like a crying baby
a “professional image” when working from home
while dealing with Irina on the phone. This is an
(e.g. Irina’s daughter crying in the background
important point, given the bank’s promise of
while Irina was on the phone), which Irina could
better customer service as its competitive
have anticipated.
advantage in a busy market. Second, while the
employer is being supportive in supplying a On the other hand, the employer probably should
computer and couriering work to and from Irina’s not expect greater productivity just because an
home, the employer appears to have unrealistic employee works at home. The employer might
expectations of what Irina’s productivity should also need to provide additional support to Irina
be. Third, Irina is missing out on potential new beyond a computer and a regular courier service,
clients by not physically being in the office when rather than attributing problems only to Irina’s
new customers drop in. Fourth, while Irina is still perceived inability to manage her work
visiting the office once a week, she is missing arrangement. The case mentions that a previous
regular contact with her co-workers and thus is employee’s telecommuting arrangement was a
“out of the loop” for the informal transmission of failure, which suggests that the employer does not
information in the workplace. Her co-workers also have a good idea of how to manage
appear to be resentful of her new work telecommuting successfully.
3. What solutions can you suggest to the problems
2. Is it Irina’s or the bank’s responsibility to solve that you have identified?
these problems?
Depending on how the problem has been defined, explore ways to support such arrangements if it is
there are numerous solutions that could be applied decided that telecommuting is a viable option. It
in this case. appears that the employer is allowing
telecommuting on a case-by-case basis, and there
First, Irina and the company obviously need to re-
might be benefits to formalizing telecommuting as
negotiate the terms of the telecommuting
an option for more employees if the company
arrangement. There needs to be clearer
decides this is appropriate. Having telecommuting
expectations (on both sides) of Irina’s
available to other employees might reduce the
productivity. The issue of Irina’s time in the office
resentment that Irina’s co-workers feel (they may
also should be resolved, since once a week does
be angry because they feel she is receiving special
not seem to be sufficient for her to stay involved
treatment), and could also be a selling point in
and to acquire new clients. If Irina is concerned
recruiting new employees.
about her ability to spend time away from her
child, the employer could subsidize day care for If the employer decides to formalize
her during the time she is in the office. The telecommuting as an option, there are cost savings
employer could also consider offering some day that could be generated (e.g. bulk purchase of
care arrangements at the office, which would computers, office supplies, and office furniture).
likely be a benefit to other employees with child Some employers have also developed “semi-
care responsibilities. Irina and the company could telecommuting” arrangements if many employees
also explore ways to refer “walk-in” clients to her live considerable distances from a central
when she is not physically in the office. workplace. Rather than setting up working
arrangements in each individual employee’s
Second, there could better working conditions for
home, the employer establishes a “satellite
Irina at home. Because of the numbers of workers
office”: an office space equipped with computers,
working part- or full-time at home, many office
files, photocopiers, and other office furnishings, in
furniture companies now make cabinets
a location convenient to the employees. The
containing computer and filing storage, which can
“satellite office” is not a formal place of business
be closed so that the “work equipment” is not
open to the public, but instead is a non-home-
visible when not in use. This would partially solve
based telecommuting site. Employees who wish to
the problem of Irina being unable to avoid looking
telecommute travel to the “satellite office” rather
at work when she is not working. The cost of
than to the central workplace, and telecommute
purchasing of such a piece of furniture could be
from there rather than from their homes. This
covered by either Irina or the employer, or they
arrangement avoids most of the problems
could share the cost.
associated with working from home, while still
Third, Irina could consider arranging for part- or allowing the employees to avoid extensive travel
full-time child care while she is working at home. and other work-related costs. Having
While this would somewhat reduce the savings telecommuting employees working from one
generated by telecommuting, it would place also allows the employer a greater degree of
undoubtedly improve her ability to work without control over work, instead of managing multiple
distraction and also to present a professional individual telecommuting arrangements.
image to her clients. It would also possibly permit
Finally, Irina and the employer could also
her to work different hours, depending on the
question whether telecommuting is appropriate for
scheduling of the child care, and thus make it
her situation. Telecommuting does not work for
easier for her to be available outside “regular”
every employee and for every job. Since Irina’s
office hours, as she had suggested to her
job is, to some extent, dependent on regular
employer. The employer could subsidize or cover
interaction with her co-workers and developing a
the cost of childcare to assist Irina in
client base from new customers, it may be that
implementing this arrangement, since increased
telecommuting is inappropriate for her job. She
productivity and professionalism would also
may benefit herself and the employer by returning
benefit the employer.
to an office-based work arrangement.
Fourth, the employer may want to examine how
committed it is to the idea of telecommuting, and

Purpose Step 2: All teams will receive special instructions in

This exercise is designed to help students understand class about the team’s assigned task. All teams have
the importance and application of organizational the same task and will have the same amount of time
behaviour concepts. to plan and practice the task. At the end of this
planning and practice, each team will be timed while
completing the task in class. The team that completes
Materials the task in the least time wins.
None, but the instructor has more information about
the team’s task. [Note: The chairs are optional. This Step 3: Other than chairs, no special materials are
exercise sometimes works better without chairs. required or allowed for this exercise. Although the
Instead, the instructor might use two lines of tape on task is not described here, students should learn the
the floor to keep student teams in a straight line.] following rules for planning and implementing the
Task Description (read to students) Rule #1: You cannot use any written form of
Each team will develop and execute a strategy in
communication or any props other than chairs to
which the three team members on either side of an
assist in the planning or implementation of this
open space will move to the other side in the same
final order (see exhibit on this page). Team members
Rule #2: You may speak to other students in your team
1, 2, and 3 begin on the left side and must move to the
at any time during the planning and
right side in the same order. Team members 4, 5, and
implementation of this task.
6 will begin on the right side of the open chair or
Rule #3: When performing the task, you must move
space and must move to the left side in the same order
only in the direction of your assigned destination.
(see Exhibit below).
In other words, you can only move forward, not
Exhibit Rule #4: When performing the task, you can move
forward to the next space, but only if it is vacant
(see Exhibit 1 in textbook).
1 2 3 4 5 6
Rule #5: When performing the task, you can move
forward two spaces, if that space is vacant. In
other words, you can move around a student who
After is one space in front of you to the next space if
that space is vacant (see Exhibit 2 in textbook).
4 5 6 1 2 3
Step 4: When all teams have completed their task, the
class will discuss the implications of this exercise for
organizational behaviour.

Instructions (provided in textbook) Comments for Instructors

Step 1: Form teams with six students each. (NOTE: This exercise is also called “Traffic Jam”. Halfway
Larger teams may be formed, but all teams must be through the planning stage, it may be useful to advise
the same size and have the same number of people on students that the task can be completed in less than 20
each side.) If possible, each team should have a private seconds. This makes some teams rethink their strategy.
location where team members can plan and practice The exercise offers plenty of fun and is an excellent
the required task without being observed or heard by ice breaker for the beginning of the course.
other teams.
However, be prepared to use up an entire 45 minute
class for this exercise with some time for debriefing.
It usually takes teams up to 30 minutes to figure out in the team. This relates to the elements of
the solution and to improve their efficiency in the task. individual behaviour. Conflict mat become an
Then, time is required for each team to demonstrate issue if some team members don’t work as
and compete. effectively as others.
2. What personal theories of people and work teams
Discussion Questions were applied to complete this task.
1. Identify organizational behaviour concepts that
the team applied to complete this task. This is a subjective question in which students
reveal their personal theories. It is useful to
Human checkers is an exciting exercise that identify the types of theories that emerge, that is,
applies many organizational behaviour topics. It which topics (leadership, individual performance,
relates to teams because the planning and practice etc.) a mentioned most often.
stage involves team development and
performance. Leadership may be an issue here 3. What organizational behaviour problems occurred
because some people help the team to work and what actions were (or should have been) taken
toward its goals. Creativity and decision making to solve them.
are relevant because the team must figure out how Several OB problems potentially emerge. Team
to get everyone to the opposite side within the dynamics are most often mentioned. Conflict
constraints indicated. Some students might note sometimes occurs. Leadership may be an issue
that they are not as good at either figuring out the where one person dominates the process too
method or synchronizing as well as other people much.

Purpose the incident. Think of this knowledge as a road map

for others to follow when they begin their first day of
The problem that people make from their mistakes class or first day at work, go on a first date, etc. This
isn’t so much the mistake itself. Rather, it’s that they activity requires teams of 5 or 6 people, a situation
do not take the time to learn from those mistakes. This identified by the instructor, and personal mistakes in
exercise is designed to help you understand how to that situation.
gain knowledge from past mistakes in a specific
situation. Comments for Instructors
Instructions The first day of class is a suitable and usually
entertaining topic because all students have obviously
Step 1: The class will be divided into small teams experienced this event and many probably have
(four to six people). The instructor will identify a hilarious examples of how events went wrong. For
situation that students would have experienced and, example, a student might describe how he/she sat in
therefore, at which they probably have made mistakes. class and realized half way through the first lecture
This could be the first day at work, the first day of a that it was the wrong room! Another might describe
class, or a social event such as a first date. how he/she arrived late because the parking lot was
full. From these stories, students can explore what can
Step 2: After the topic has been identified, each team be learned from them. For example, form the incident
member writes down an incident in which something about being in the wrong room, they might note the
went wrong in that situation. For example, if the topic need to look closely at room numbers, double check
is the first day of classes, someone might note how last minute room changes, ask others in the class to
they were late for class because they forgot to set their confirm that the course in this room is what he/she
alarm clock. assumes, and so on.
Step 3: Each student describes the mistake to other This exercise can be fun because it reveals some very
team members. As an incident is described, students human activities, as well as the idea that knowledge
should develop a causal map of the incident. They emerges from these memorable (and sometimes
should ask why the problem happened, what were the infamous) events. It teaches students to conduct
consequences of this incident, did it happen again, and effective debriefing sessions -- a powerful way to
so on. The knowledge might not be as obvious as you extract knowledge from another person’s experiences.
think. For example, in the incident of being late, the
learning might not be that we should ensure the alarm Notice that this exercise also reshapes our thinking
clock is set. It may be a matter of changing routines about mistakes. Rather than a source of
(going to bed earlier), rethinking our motivation to embarrassment, mistakes are learning events. This
enroll in a program, and so on. point is consistent with the experiential learning
approach that is described in Chapter 2.
Step 4: As other incidents are analyzed, the team
should begin to document specific knowledge about
Purpose in Chapter 10. There are several reasons why
people continue to support a bad decision. These
This exercise is designed to help students understand include: (a) self-justification -- people want to
how organizational behaviour knowledge can help you present themselves in a positive light; (b)
to understand life in organizations. gambler’s fallacy -- decision makers under-
estimate the risk and over estimate their
Instructions probability of success; (c) perceptual blinders --
decision makers do not see the problems soon
Read each of the statements below and circle whether enough; and (d) closing costs -- decision makers
each statement is true or false, in your opinion. The will persist because the costs of ending the project
class will consider the answers to each question and are high or unknown.
discuss the implications for studying organizational
behaviour. After reviewing these statements, the 3. Organizations are more effective when they
instructor will provide information about the most prevent conflict among employees.
appropriate answer. (Note: This activity may be done FALSE. Actually, the correct answer is in a state
as a self-assessment or as a team activity.) of flux. The dominant OB research indicates that
task-oriented is often beneficial (such as in
Comments for Instructors decision making) whereas socioemotional
conflict has negative consequences. But some
This exercise addresses the point that common sense emerging research concludes that even task-
isn’t always correct. Of course, some students will be oriented conflict can be a problem. We also
counter-intuitive in anticipation that these are “trick” discuss both the benefits of and problems with
questions. We have included some true statements to conflict in Chapter 13.
complicate the exercise. By reviewing each statement,
you can help students to see that organizational 4. It is better to negotiate alone than as a team.
behaviour systematically studies these issues and helps FALSE. As described in the latter part of Chapter
us to correct or clarify popular misperceptions. 13, team listening is an important virtue in
negotiations. The more people listening, the more
Here are the eleven statements with their correct
your side will hear valuable information and
answers and references to their discussion in the
understand the subtle nonverbal cues
communicated by the other party. This
1. A happy worker is a productive worker.
information makes it easier to identify low-cost
TRUE. To be more accurate, the answer is “true, concessions or proposals that will satisfy the other
to some extent”. This is one of those “truths” side.
that students will probably answer correctly and
5. Companies are most effective when they have a
many OB instructors will answer incorrectly
strong corporate culture.
because they rely on old organizational behaviour
research. The latest research indicates that job FALSE. As with so many organizational
satisafaction has a moderately strong association behaviour concepts, the more precise answer is “it
with job performance (a correlation of around . depends.” In Chapter 16, students will read that
30). For details, see Chapter 4 on workplace there is a weak relationship between corporate
emotions and attitudes. culture strength and organizational performance.
Three reasons are offered. First, a strong culture
2. Decision makers tend to continue supporting a
can be a problem when the values are inconsistent
course of action even though information suggests
with the organization’s environment. Second, a
that the decision is ineffective.
very strong culture can blind employees from
TRUE. This statement represents the escalation seeing other perspectives. Third, a very strong
of commitment phenomenon, which is described culture suppresses dissenting values that may be
important in the future as the environment FALSE. This statement represents one of the most
changes. widely held views in organizational behaviour,
namely that Japanese people have high
6. Employees perform better without stress.
collectivism and low individualism. Yet, several
FALSE. As we learn in Chapter 7, some level of studies (including a recent major meta-analysis)
stress is essential for life. We need a certain level now conclude that Japanese people tend to have
of stress to energize us. The problem is that we fairly low collectivism. These recent findings are
sometimes (or often) experience stress beyond this reported in Chapter 2.
beneficial level.
10. Top-level executives tend to exhibit a Type A
7. Effective organizational change always begins by behaviour pattern (i.e., hard-driving, impatient,
pinpointing the source of its current problems. competitive, short-tempered, strong sense of time
urgency, rapid talkers).
FALSE. This statement refers to the dominant
model of problem solving and organizational FALSE. Actually, top-level executives tend to
change, namely, to identify the problem before exhibit the Type B behaviour pattern. In other
looking for solutions. In Chapter 17, we introduce words, they tend to work steadily, take a more
an emerging perspective of organizational change relaxed approach to life, and be even-tempered. In
called appreciative inquiry. According to this fact, these features may provide superior human
model, dwelling on problems can bog down the relations skills which give Type B people more
change process and degenerate into political. promotions. Type A/B patterns are described in
Instead, change agents need to focus the group on Chapter 7.
its potential and positive elements.
11. Employees usually feel overreward inequity when
8. Female leaders involve employees in decisions to they are paid more than coworkers performing the
a greater degree than do male leaders. same work.
TRUE. There is lot of debate about whether men FALSE. When it comes to money, people tend to
and women lead differently. As we learn at the play interesting mind games to avoid feeling
end of Chapter 14, men and women are mostly overreward inequity. Students will read in Chapter
similar in their leadership styles. But there is one 5 that overrewarded employees often distort their
exception: female leaders involve employees in perceived inputs or outcomes to reduce
decisions to a greater degree than do male leaders. inequitable feelings. For example, they might
Of course, some female leaders are not begin to think that their higher pay is justified
participative, and some male leaders are very because they offer more skills or experience than
participative. But generally, female leaders are they previously thought. They might think: “This
more participative. large bonus means that the company values my
talent more than I thought!”
9. People in Japan value group harmony and duty to
the group (high collectivism) more than
Canadians or Americans (low collectivism).

Purpose This instrument is designed to help students to identify

This exercise is designed to help students to assess the their “telework disposition”, that is, the degree to
extent to which they possess the personal which their needs, values, and competencies are
characteristics most suitable for telework. compatible with teleworking arrangements. This scale
does not cover every personal characteristic related to
effective teleworking, but it measures three of the
Overview and Instructions most important dispositions. Also, please keep in mind
Teleworking (also known as telecommuting) has
that this scale only considers personal characteristics.
become one of the fastest-growing developments in
Other factors, such as organizational, family,
the workplace. With advanced computer and
technological systems support must also be taken into
telecommunications systems, knowledge workers can
now perform their work at home or another location
away from their usual office. But effective teleworking Students are asked to read each of the 14 statements in
requires more than technology. Some people are this instrument and indicate the extent to which they
better than others tat surviving and succeeding in agree or disagree that the statement describes them.
teleworking arrangements.

Feedback for the Telework Disposition Assessment

[NOTE: The following information is also provided in Appendix B and/or the Student CD.] This scale assesses three
personal dispositions that are identified in the literature as characteristics of effective teleworkers: (a) high company
alignment, (b) low social needs at work, and (c) independent initiative.

Company alignment
Company alignment estimates the extent to which you Low social needs at work
follow company procedures and have values congruent People with a high score on this subscale do not rely
with company values. The greater the alignment, the on co-workers to satisfy their social needs. Successful
more likely that you can abide by company practices teleworkers tend to score higher on this subscale 9i.e.
while working alone and with direct supervision. have lower social needs at work) because teleworking
While some deviation from company practices may be offers less opportunity for social interaction with co-
appropriate, teleworkers need to agree with company workers than when working in an office setting each
values and provide work that is consistent with day. Scores on this scale range from 4 to 20. Notice
company expectations most of the time. Scores on this that HIGH scores represent LOW social needs.
scale range from 4 to 20.
Score Interpretation
Score Interpretation 15 to 20 Low social needs
15 to 20 High company alignment 9 to 14 Moderate social needs
9 to 14 Moderate company alignment 4 to 8 High social needs
4 to 8 Low company alignment
Independent initiative
One of the most important characteristics of successful Total Telework Disposition
teleworkers is that they are able to set their own work This overall score combines the results for company
goals and maintain a productive work schedule alignment, social needs at work, and independent
without direct supervision. People who score higher on initiative. A higher score indicates that students will
this subscale tend to have a higher degree of probably be more satisfied and productive in a
independent initiative. Scores on this scale range from teleworking arrangement than someone with a lower
6 to 30. score on this scale. Specifically, people with high
scores have higher alignment with company values
Score Interpretation
and practices, lower social needs at work, and higher
24 to 30 High independent initiative independent initiative. Scores on this scale range from
15 to 23 Moderate independent initiative 14 to 70.
6 to 14 Low independent initiative Score Interpretation
54 to 70 High telework disposition
34 to 53 Moderate telework disposition
14 to 33 Low telework disposition
Paul Simard was delighted when Ancol Ltd. offered But the problems did not end there. Without time
him the job of manager at its Jonquiere, Quebec plant. clocks, the payroll department could not deduct pay
Simard was happy enough managing a small metal for the amount of time that employees were late.
stamping plant with another company, but the Instead, a letter of reprimand was placed in the
headhunter’s invitation to apply to the plant manager employee’s personnel file. However, this required yet
job at one of Canada’s leading metal fabrication more time and additional skills from the supervisors.
companies was irresistible. Although the Jonquiere Employees did not want these letters to become a
plant was the smallest of Ancol’s 15 operations across permanent record, so they filed grievances with their
Canada, the plant manager position was a valuable labour union. The number of grievances doubled over
first step in a promising career. six months, which required even more time for both
One of Simard’s first observations at Ancol’s union officials and supervisors to handle these
Jonquiere plant was that relations between employees disputes.
and management were strained. Taking a page from a Nine months after removing the time clocks, Paul
recent executive seminar that he attended on building Simard met with union officials, who agreed that it
trust in the workplace, Simard ordered the removal of would be better to put the time clocks back in.
all time clocks from the plant. Instead, the plant would Employee-management relations had deteriorated
assume that employees had put in their full shift. This below the level when Simard had started. Supervisors
symbolic gesture, he believed, would establish a new were burnt out from overwork. Productivity had
level of credibility and strengthen relations between dropped due to poorer attendance records and
management and employees at the site. increased administrative workloads.
Initially, the 250 production employees at the A couple of months after the time clocks were put
Jonquiere plant appreciated their new freedom. They back in place, Simard attended an operations meeting
felt respected and saw this gesture as a sign of positive at Ancol’s headquarters in Toronto. During lunch,
change from the new plant manager. Two months Simard described the time clock incident to Liam
later, however, problems started to appear. A few Jackson, Ancol’s plant manager in Northern British
people began showing up late, leaving early, or take Columbia. Jackson looked surprised, then chuckled.
extended lunch breaks. Although this represented only Jackson explained that the previous BC plant manager
about five percent of the employees, others found the had done something like that with similar
situation unfair. Moreover, the increased absenteeism consequences six or seven years ago. The previous
levels were beginning to have a noticeable effect on manager had left some time ago, but Jackson heard
plant productivity. The problem had to be managed. about the BC timeclock from a supervisor during the
Simard asked supervisors to observe and record manager’s retirement party two months ago.
when the employees came or went and to discuss “I guess it’s not quite like lightning striking the
attendance problems with those abusing their same place twice,” said Simard to Jackson. “But it
privileges. But the supervisors had no previous sure feels like it.”
experience with keeping attendance and many lacked
the necessary interpersonal skills to discuss the matter
with subordinates. Employees resented the Discussion Questions
reprimands, so relations with supervisors deteriorated. 1. What symptom(s) exist in this case to suggest that
The additional responsibility of keeping track of something has gone wrong?
attendance also made it difficult for supervisors to 2. What are the root causes that have led to these
complete their other responsibilities. After just a few symptoms?
months, Ancol found it necessary to add another 3. What actions should Ancol or Paul simard take to
supervisor position and reduce the number of correct these problems?
employees assigned to each supervisor.
© Copyright 1998 Steven L. McShane. This case is
based on actual events, but names and some facts have
been changed to provide a fuller case discussion.

Case Synopsis within the organization. A third type of drawing

illustrates the cause-effect relationships in a time
This case describes the activities of Paul Simard after sequence. This typically starts with the poor
he became when he became manager at Ancol Corp.’s relations, then removing the time clock, then
plant in Jonquiere, Quebec. To build trust between initially increasing morale but also increasing
management and employees, he removed the time absenteeism, and so on. This temporal image
clocks that kept track of employee work hours. should reveal the complexity of events in the case.
Although employees appreciated this freedom to work For example, poor relations was not the only
without a time clock, some abused this privilege by cause of the removed time clocks. Paul Simard’s
showing up late and leaving early. This affected plant entry to the organization and his knowledge from
productivity. Supervisors spent more time counseling the seminar also contribute to this action.
those who had attendance problems and filling out (Instructors might notice how this is a classic
letters of reprimand. The letters, along with example of garbage can decision making -- a
supervisors’ poor interpersonal skills, worsened problem, solution, decision maker, and situation
relations. Another supervisor was added to cope with collide to form a decision.]
the additional work. After nine months, Simard agreed
This case illustrates the problems facing
with union officials to reinstate the time clocks. Later,
organizations from an open systems view. The
at a meeting of other Ancol managers, Simard learned
open systems view states that organizations are
that a similar situation had occurred at another plant a
comprised of interdependent parts. We certainly
few years earlier.
see that here with the removal of time clocks. In
[NOTE: This case is a variation of an incident particular, we see how removing time clocks leads
described in R. Daft, Organizational Theory, 3rd ed. to a string of unexpected consequences. In this
(St. Paul, MN: West, 1989), pp. 16-17.] case, removing the time clocks resulted in more
work for supervisors. It also affected work
Suggested Answers to Case activities in payroll and, eventually, posed a new
set of problems for labor union leaders.
Questions Supervisors now had to use disciplinary
counseling skills which many of them lacked.
1. Use the systems theory model to explain what Although students might suggest that lack of
happened when Ancol removed the time clocks. counseling training is a problem here, notice that
[SUGGESTION: This case works best when each there is no mention that it was a problem before.
discussion group is provided with a marker and It is possible in a unionized environment with
acetate sheet or flip chart and asked to illustrate process-oriented technology, that control systems
the events at Ancol from a systems perspective. are in place which minimize the need for
The results are fascinating. Typically, some supervisors to discipline employees. For example,
groups will diagram the systems model shown in time clocks control employee attendance
Chapter 1. Their drawing reveals the subsystems behaviour or, at least, provide fact-based
in the case, such as employees, supervisors, information. The main point, however, is that one
control systems (time clock), and management. It action (removing time clocks) ripples through to
may also show inputs (such as Paul Simard’s other subsystems in the organization, as predicted
entry), outputs (lower productivity), and feedback by the open systems anchor.
from the environment (union grievances). 2. What changes should occur to minimize the
Other student groups might try to diagram the likelihood of these problems in the future?
relationships that affect each other, such as a One answer to this question is to help people at
series of interrelated lines among the subsystems Ancol recognize that organizations are open
systems with interdependent parts. In other might have taken steps to correct anticipated
words, they need to be sensitive to the fact that problems. Students should discuss ways that
changes in one part of the work unit affects other organizations such as Ancol can improve
parts of the work unit, as we saw at this Ancol knowledge sharing.
For example, the organization-wide meeting that
The second change is to apply knowledge Simard attended seems to help share knowledge
management practices so that what was previously among plant managers, albeit somewhat too late
learned about removing time clocks would be in this case. Alternatively, perhaps the company
more quickly and readily known throughout the could leverage the benefits of Intranet technology
organization. The end of the case describes how to help employees and managers share
Simard attended an operations meeting at Ancol’s experiences more fully. Even through an
headquarters in Cincinnati, where he learned that integrated e-mail system, Simard could have
Ancol’s plant in Portland, Oregon had a similar asked other managers if removing time clocks has
experience six or seven years earlier. This been tried before, and with what consequences.
illustrates the “silos of knowledge” problem that Notice that knowledge sharing requires a culture
exists in large organizations. If Simard had of open communication and information sharing,
known about the earlier incident, he might have not just the technology to make this possible.
avoided the action of removing time locks, or


organization’s underlying norms, policies, and
Knowledge management has its beginnings in the procedures.
organizational behaviour writing about organizational Double loop learning involves not only responding
learning. This concept was popularized by Peter to the error through existing procedures, but also
Senge’s 1990 book, The Fifth Discipline, However, experimenting with new organizational systems when
the concept can be traced back more than a dozen it becomes apparent that the existing systems are
years earlier to the work of Chris Argyris and earlier ineffective.
still to scholars who introduced the idea that Single and double loop learning are useful concepts
organizations are open systems. in the organizational learning literature because they
One of the earliest organizational learning point out how employees need to think beyond the
perspectives was advanced by Chris Argyris in the late existing organizational framework to solve problems.
1970s. Argyris suggested that organizational learning This is particularly important when the environment is
involves the detection and correction of error. This changing rapidly and existing organizational systems
error might be an inefficiency in the organizational are no longer appropriate. In a learning organization,
subsystem (such as a misunderstanding between employees quickly realize that the existing system
departments) or in the organization’s relationship with does not adequately resolve a particular problem and
the external environment (such as failing to secure that a new set of norms and policies must be
sufficient resources for production). introduced to help the organization realign itself with
Argyris calls the error detection and correction the changing environment.
process “single-loop learning” when the error can be
corrected through existing policies, procedures, and Sources: C. Argyris and D. A. Schon, Organizational
norms. In contrast, “double-loop learning” occurs Learning (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1978); M.
when the error leads to a modification of the Dodgson, “Organizational Learning: A Review of
Some Literature, Organization Studies, 14 (1993), pp.
375-94; P. M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline (New York:
Doubleday Currency, 1990).
Accommodating Diversity. Telecommuting allows
Telecommuting is becoming commonplace in some those with restricted access to the workplace to
firms, but many organizations are still having complete their required tasks. People with disabilities
difficulty adjusting to this new employment can participate in the labor force where their expertise
relationship. As we described in Chapter 1, involves knowledge work. This includes employees
telecommuting (also known as “teleworking” involves who are injured, yet want to return to work while
working from home, usually with a computer convalescing. Women can return to work sooner, if
connection to the office. they wish, without leaving home. Men also have more
opportunity to fulfill household responsibilities
Who Telecommutes? without giving up paid employment.
Telecommuting is more common in some jobs than in
others. Certainly, few auto assembly employees Reducing Corporate Costs. Telecommuting
telecommute because the organization requires their potentially saves companies money because they
physical labor on-site and the tolls of their trade can’t require less space to physically accommodate
fit in a suitcase or backpack. employees. Many firms (including some of Cisco
The most common jobs for telecommuting are Systems’ offices) shift to a nonterritorial office format
writing, telemarketing, forms processing, and whereby employees take whatever work space is
transcribing. Telecommuting is also relatively available when they do commute to the corporate or
common among trainers, television and movie sound branch office. (This is discussed in Chapter 8.) There
mixers, illustrators, loan executives, architects, are some costs the employer of telecommuting (e.g.
attorneys, desktop publishers, marketing and public providing computer equipment and network access),
relations professionals, and project managers. but these are offset by the physical space savings.
Increasing Productivity. Research consistently has
Why Telecommute? found that the productivity of those who telecommute
The literature has identified several reasons why is higher than that of workers in the standard office
telecommuting has become more popular: environment. Moreover, telecommuters have lower
Minimizing Traffic Congestion. Silicon Valley’s absenteeism. Also notice from Chapter 1 that
famous traffic jams have motivated many employees employees tend to be available more often and at
and companies to try out telecommuting as an unusual hours when they telecommute.
Addressing Environmental Concerns. California and Telecommuting Issues
other jurisdictions have established challenging goals In spite of its benefits, organizations and would-be
to reduce air pollution. Individuals are also more telecommuters must think carefully about the
conscious about how their actions affect the following issues that arise with this employment
environment. By working from home or a satellite relationship:
office rather than traveling a long distance to work, Clarifying Expectations. Along with performance
people are helping to improve air quality. expectations, employees and their bosses must develop
Attracting Talent. In the opening story to this a common set of expectations regarding their
chapter, we learned that Cisco Systems is willing to let availability. A supervisor might expect that the
some job applicants remain at their previous residence employee is at work during the same hours as
-- even when on the other side of the country. This colleagues at work, whereas the telecommuter might
flexibility motivates talented people to join Cisco and assume that it’s acceptable to take a couple of hours
other companies that practice telecommuting. off to do shopping, then work in the evening. In other
Telecommuting is a desirable working condition to words, telecommuters need to know their degree of
some (many?) people, so it becomes a way of work time flexibility.
attracting top talent. Monitoring Work. Companies have difficulty moving
away from “face time” as an indicator of work
performance. They need to find new and better ways include the requirement that employees attend the
to monitor employee performance. Typically, regular workplace a couple of days each week.
telecommuting shift work monitoring from time-
Sources: E. J. Hill, B. C. Miller, S. P. Weiner, J.
based indicators (hours at work) to an output-based
Colihan, “Influences of the Virtual Office on Aspects
indicators (number of tasks completed).
of Work and Work/Life Balance,” Personnel
Minimizing Isolation. Although employees enjoy the Psychology, 51 (Autumn 1998), 667-683; M. M.
freedom of telecommuting, many eventually realize Fitzer, “Managing from Afar: Performance and
that they “lose touch” with the workplace. Work fulfils Rewards in a Telecommuting Environment,”
a social need, not just the need for accomplishment Compensation and Benefits Review, 29 (January-
and financial security. Moreover, face time is a February 1997), pp. 65-73; M. Hequet, “How
political tactic that potentially influences the Telecommuting Transforms Work,” Training 31
employees career opportunities and choice of (November1994), pp. 57-61.
assignments. Thus, many telecommuting arrangements


One of the most common laments in larger for a particular project or work activity. It creates a
organizations is “I wish we knew what we know.” To collective view of the knowledge and skills required to
rectify this problem, a few organizations engage in successfully perform each step in the work process.
knowledge mapping -- identifying what knowledge the This framework is a valuable resource for knowledge
organization holds about a key product or service, and sharing an utilization because it enables others to
creating a directory so that this knowledge may be quickly identify and retrieve knowledge
found quickly. For example, Unilever recently mapped .
everything it knew around the world about tomatoes:
about sources of pulp for tomato sauce, about the pulp Sources: N. Venkatraman and J. C. Henderson, “Real
itself, the fruit and the seeds. The result was a Strategies for Virtual Organizing,” Sloan Management
knowledge map that helps Unilever employees quickly Review, 40 (Fall 1998), pp. 33+; M. Martiny,
find corporate knowledge in this area. “Knowledge Management at HP Consulting,”
Hewlett-Packard has been a pioneer in knowledge Organizational Dynamics, 27 (Autumn 1998), pp. 71+;
mapping. The high technology company had to create R. M. Fulmer, P. Gibbs, and J. B. Keys, “The Second
road maps where coworkers can quickly identify what Generation Learning Organizations: New Tools For
knowledge is needed and where it is located. Sustaining Competitive Advantage,” Organizational
“Knowledge Mapping is a process that identifies Dynamics, 27 (Autumn 1998), pp. 6+; C. O’Dell and
knowledge, skills, collateral and tools needed to sell or C. J. Grayson, “If Only We Knew What We Know:
deliver a solution,” says Marilyn Martiny, Knowledge Identification And Transfer Of Internal Best
Services Manager at Hewlett-Packard’s consulting Practices,” California Management Review, 40 (Spring
division. “The map is used as a guide to what 1998), pp. 154-174; T. Jackson, “Harnessing The
knowledge is important and where it can be found.” Power,” Financial Post, June 18, 1998, p. 33. For
discussion of knowledge mapping, see T. Davenport
A typical knowledge mapping process brings together and L. Prusak, Working Knowledge: How
experts within the organization, who identify what Organizations Manage What They Know (Boston:
knowledge is needed, what gaps exist in current Harvard Business School Press, 1998);
knowledge capabilities, and what skills are required
Along with the video case(s) for this section of the tedxtbook, the following videos and films generally relate to one or
more topics in this chapter. These programs may be available at your college/university or rented from the distributor.
Please contact your film librarian to determine the availability of these programs at your institution. This list was
compiled from library holdings of several universities. Due to the variety of video material, this is not a
comprehensive list. Nor can we say that all of the programs below are suitable for your class.

NOTE: Instructors should look through the video Handy, an international writer on organizational
suggestions section in other chapters to find videos behaviour, discusses the future of organizations, the
relating to the emerging themes discussed in this changing nature of work and management and the
opening chapter of the textbook. need for adaptation. ISBN 0563208309

Creating the Learning Organization. (1997, 76 min., The Change Masters: Understanding The Theory.
VHS) These three video programs (created by CASE (1987, 22 mins, VHS) Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Television for BBC) describe the organizational- identifies “change masters” as individuals and
learning techniques used by successful companies. companies who anticipate change and respond with
They discuss how to implement change and develop a new ideas. She describes the seven ingredients that are
learning culture within a business and how to analyze essential to successful change masters and explains
an organization's learning style. The three programs how to create the kind of environment that builds
are entitled: 1. Learning to survive v. 2. The learning innovation and promotes acceptance to change.
experience v. 3. Making it happen.
The Change Masters: Putting The Theory Into
Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Action (1987, 42 mins., VHS) This program profiles
Lead. (1994, 30 min., corVision Media). James A. three major companies: Hewlett-Packard, Security
Belasco & Ralph C. Stayer share the belief that the Pacific Bank, and the Stanley works. They have
critical difference in today's companies rests in the refocused their business strategies in order to compete
"intellectual capital" found in the people who make-up more effectively in an ever-changing business
the entire organization. This program is based on a environment. All three illustrate successful
book by the same name, written by Belasco and implementation of the “change master” concepts
Stayer. developed by Dr. Kanter in her book The Change
Handy on the Future of Organizations. (1990, 18
min., VHS). This BBC production features Charles