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ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR: PERSONALITY PERCEPTION AND INDIVIDUAL ABILITIES

Organizational behavior is an area of inquiry concerned with both sorts of influence: work organizations on people and people on work organizations. The organizations in which people work affect their thoughts, feelings, and actions in the workplace and away from it. Likewise, people's thoughts, feelings, and actions affect the organizations in which they work. The central problems in organizational behavior are influenced by changes in organizations themselves. Although researchers have reported the durability of such traditional categories as work motivation and performance, absenteeism and turnover, climate and culture, and groups and leadership, other recent commentaries report more substantial shifts. The time frame used to review a body of research is probably the greatest determinant of whether we observe change or stability. For example, Barley & Kunda's (1992) investigation of trends in managerial thought ranged from the 1870s to the present and reported alternating cycles of rational and normative thinking among managers and scholars predicated on the degree of expansion or contraction in the economy of the time. From their starting point in the 1950s, Goodman & Whetten (1997) noted an adaptive quality in the field's work that shifts attention toward particular applied problems firms face within a given decade.

In understanding organizational behavior (also known as behavior at work), it is necessary to understand the theory of personality perception and individual abilities. This essay discusses in what way these theories explain individual differences in peoples behavior at work. Further, this essay shows the importance of these theories for managers. A personality is the combination of psychological traits that describe a person. Attribution Theory builds from perception . This theory states that

people judge others based on the meaning attributed to their behavior. This theory affects managers in that subordinates tend to attribute organizational performance to the characteristics of the manager. When an organization does well, people give credit to the manager's ability, however when the same organization does poorly, the manager's ability is called into question. Moreover, personality perception is used as a factor in personnel selection. Before, the use of personality inventories was thought to be of little use in personnel selection. Guion and Gottier (1965) concluded in their study that personality variables had little systematic relationship to workrelated criterion variables. The study of the use of personality instruments in employee selection was also affected by the person-situation debate in Mischel's (1968) work. However, researchers now recognize that personality is important (Hogan et al., 1996), predictive of job performance and career success over periods of several years (Hogan, 1998; Judge et al., 1999), and that the predictive ability of some personality dimensions on performance measures can be generalized across occupations (Barrick and Mount, 1991; Mount and Barrick, 1995). The use of personality inventories for personnel selection is receiving increasingly positive attention due to the person-versus-situation debate which has largely ended and there is recognition that personality plays an important role in the prediction of criterion (Hogan, 1998; Hough & Schneider, 1996). Further, personality researchers have begun to agree on a five-factor model of personality that can serve as a taxonomy for investigating personality-related issues (Digman, 1990). These five factors of personality are Extraversion, Emotional Stability (Neuroticism), Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience. Research by Barrick and Mount (1991), Tett et al. (1991), and Mount and Barrick (1995) has demonstrated the usefulness of the five-factor model for predicting job performance. While it is true that these studies were investigating the predictive ability of personality for job performance, if a relationship can also be shown between personality and preferences for manager-subordinate relationships in first-line manager's jobs, personality

inventories will be-come even more valuable as selection instruments (Ash & Stevens, 2001). Furthermore, researchers have assumed that increased contact between members of different groups will improve intergroup relations (Barnum, 1997). It is unclear, however, whether increased contact between members of different groups has a positive effect on the impressions they form of each other.

Given the fast-moving pace at which business are undergoing structural and technological changes, organizations are facing the pressure of competitiveness in the market, industries have looked for ways to outperform and stand out from the competitors. To compete, business leaders have to continually improve their performance by reducing costs, innovating products and processes, improving quality, productivity and speed to market. With this, employees individual performance is deemed important in understanding organizational behavior. A number of factors impact on individual performance: personality, attitude, values, perceptions, ability and motivation. Robbins et al. (1992) emphasize the importance of ability-job fit, rather than pure assessment of ability, as being an important determinant of job performance and satisfaction. Fischer, Schoenfeldt and Shaw (1997) state that performance appraisal should be used as an employee development tool to identify areas of skill and ability deficiency to improve the focus for training and development, as the possession of appropriate skills and abilities are key elements in improving individual performance. The knowledge of the theories on personality performance and individual skills enable decision-makers manage an organization effectively. Managers are interested in human behavior because they desire to predict behaviors at work (Stelle, 2003). By knowing how people react, managers can mold the behaviors that concern them such as absenteeism, productivity and turnover. Human behavior at work can be viewed on either an individual or group level. Individual characteristics include attitudes, personality,

perception, learning and motivation. Group characteristics include norms, roles, team building and conflict. Having knowledge of these theories, managers are able to address issues on job satisfaction, job involvement and organizational commitment. Job satisfaction is the general attitude expressed about the task; job involvement is the degree an employee identifies with his/her job; and organizational commitment is the loyalty expressed for the organization itself. Consequently, managers are able to design effective programs that increase employee productivity and consider the importance of employee appraisal. In summary, knowledge of organizational behavior theories, specifically personality perception and individual ability, helps managers run a healthy organization.