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Organizational Behavior Disciplines

Richard Baron September 3, 2007 As with most sciences, there exists a basis in which it is developed. As in Organizational Behavior it is ³the study of the structure and functioning of organizations and the behavior of groups and individuals within them´ and ³drawing primarily on the disciplines of sociology and psychology´ (Warner, 1994), that present it as a science that has strong ties to other disciplines. The history of Organizational Behavior (OB) can be traced back to the Scientific Management approaches from the Industrial Revolution as early as the late 1800¶s with the work of Frederic Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) (Wertheim). It is in this case, behavioral disciplines that have shaped Organizational Behavior into a distinguishable discipline. Of the options as it relates to Organizational Behavior, four sciences have been identified as having significant impact in OB¶s development. They are psychology, social psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Within each major category there exist individual contribution dimensions that carry with it a unit of analysis affecting the individual, group, and organizational system. Each of following dimensions has been assigned to an individual behavioral science (Robbins, Judge, 2007), as follows: Psychology: As defined, ³psychology is the science that seeks to measure, explain, and sometimes change the behavior of human and other animals´ (Robbins, Judge, 2007). Through Organizational Behavior¶s beginnings the science of psychology had with it particular impact. Scientists saw particular significance to psychology¶s contribution through various contributions that helped form the study of Organizational Behavior.

Learning: This are of contribution became a significant element to Organizational Behavior studies when scientists attempted to identify how people would learn new skills within the workplace and how different learning styles would have to address for employees. Motivation: In order to optimize the performance of members within any organization it is necessary to understand the individual characteristics of such members and by attempting to fulfill their individual¶s needs creates a pattern in which to bring out the best in their efforts. Personality: Psychology¶s research in personality contributes to OB ability to assess individual attitudes and tie them to an organization or workgroup. This can certainly be a key to identifying elements related to motivation and other interpersonal dynamics. Emotions: Certainly an interrelationship between a person¶s personality and motivation include one¶s emotions and the facets in which it is carried upon at work. Much discussion related to the concept of emotions and employee effectiveness in which members are aware of the tendencies and awareness of emotion has brought attention to this contribution to OB¶s ongoing development. Perception: As one learned to adapt and find a place within the organization their perception of what exists around them becomes clear. How a member responds to the organization and its members are key to determination their attitudes and tendencies. Training: Since most organizations are compromised of individuals with various background and perspectives, how an organization introduces the procedures, policies, and rule becomes a challenge. Psychology¶s contribution of training to the study of OB permits organizations see how individuals respond to training and how it can best serve the organization.

Leadership effectiveness: It is a long held belief that the modern organization is more complex than ever before. The modern leader must take into account more attributes and motivational elements. Psychology has provided multiple means of measuring leadership and developing statistical models of attributes and behaviors that make up an effective leader. Job satisfaction: Certain key metrics relating to an organization¶s effectiveness include job satisfaction of its members. How an organization provides an environment and opportunity to bring out the best in its employees is certainly its ability to explore the psychology of this work force. Individual decision making: Decisions are made everyday by an organization¶s members. The tendencies to make the correct decision or the one that would be benefit the organization is certainly attributed to the individual¶s cognitive and psychological state. How one make such decisions and how it affects the rest of the organization will certainly be an ongoing topic of discussion as it relates to OB. Performance appraisal: The systematic process of providing employees feedback as to their individual performance takes into account communication parameters and goal setting that benefits both the individual and organization. These cross roads of objectives and needs have within it a place in both Psychology and OB. Attitude measurement: Psychology¶s statistical work has provided much input related to OB as it relates to member¶s attitudes. How an organization is to manage, reward, and create policy should include the mindsets of its members and align to organizational objectives. Employee selection: The traits and characteristics of successful employees has been long measured and analyzed. Psychology¶s impact in this area is great to include quantitative analysis of characteristics found to be successful based upon position requirements and organizational needs.

Work design: The interconnection of worker and their environment to include machinery, climate, temperature, and associated stressors has a direct connection to that workers cognitive state and tendencies. Even the study of personality and work design has come to the forefront. Psychology¶s ability to contribute this element to the ongoing management of an organization will continue to become an issue as organizations seek optimal performance and efficiency. Work stress: How a person reacts to his/her environment and perception of that environment is deeply affected by the perspective they hold and how they think. Stress being a potential positive negative aspect of organizations certainly has a role in the study of OB. Sociology: Sociology is defined ³as the study of people in relation to their social environment or culture´ (Robbins, Judge, 2007). The impact that sociology has on Organizational Behavior is significant as organizations at their nature are formations that hold both a social environment and culture. The elements of Sociology¶s contribution to Organizational Behavior include: Communication: The means and manner in which an organization¶s member¶s exchange information and the effectives of such exchange is highly necessary for the effective organization. Sociology¶s contribution towards this dynamic of organizations is valuable in order to optimize the process and improve its accuracy. Power: As shared with Anthropology, the study of power, its presence, and influence within the organization has within it a substantial role within the organization. In order to best analyze and assess an organization, the role of power and authority and its influences is necessary. Conflict: As a natural by-product of any organization, conflict and its study are necessary in order to identify and map the process of improvement within an organization as well as predict potential calamity. The study of conflict and its origins will be necessary to identify the sources and solutions within the organization.

Intergroup behavior: With teaming being a critical next step for many organizations, the role of intergroup behavior will have increased necessity. The ability to study the dynamics of a group and their exchanges can better help the OB practitioner in facilitate the formation of groups within the organization for organization benefit. Formal organization theory: Even with many organizations moving to matrix or less structured organization, the concepts related to the formal organization will continue to provide necessarily information as to more fluidity of structure in order to meet the coming demands and changing landscape of organizations to meet shareholder and stakeholder needs. Organizational technology: As technology¶s presence becomes increasing present, the tools and means in which an organization links equipment and technology with human capital will become an important competitive element. The study of how these interplay contributes to how the organization may use such technology to its benefit. Organizational change: Change management has been at fore front of many organizations in order to compete in the global market. How an organization can adapt to environmental changes and needs will define its future success. Organizational culture: As shared with Anthropology, the core elements of any organization and how to interpret such elements will continue to be of significance to the organization. With employee engagement becoming more important to many organizations, the tangible and intangible attributes of the organization will either become a favorable aspect or challenge to the organization. Social Psychology: As defined, ³an area within psychology that blends concepts from psychology and sociology and that focuses on the influence of people on one another´ (Robbins, Judge, 2007). Social Psychology brings together these two

complimentary disciplines into Organizational Behavior. Within this discipline, the interplay of individual and group come into focus. Behavioral change/Attitude change: Currently and ongoing debate continues concerning attitudinal versus behavioral changes and the impact it has for an organization. Especially in the area of customer service do we see this discussion the often. As organizations evaluate the merits of modification of both issues, the study of this contributory element will an important to the ongoing development of OB. Group processes/Group decision making: As discussed above the study of group dynamics and its impact will affect both processes and decision making for the organization. As researchers and managers continue to explore this element of social psychology and organizational behavior the benefits will become revealed. Anthropology: As defined, anthropology ³is the study of societies to learn about human beings and their activities´ (Robbins, Judge, 2007). Realizing that organizations are micro versions of societies and interdependent on society as a whole the relevance of its effect on OB becomes clear. Comparative values/Comparative attitudes: Values alignment has been discussed recently as it relates to employee selection and performance. Certainly employee attitudes affect behavior and in turn performance, but herein lies anthropology¶s contribution to how it might affect the outcomes of an organization. Cross-cultural analysis: Certainly the acceleration of mergers and acquisitions will increase how an organization will blend different organizational cultures that would strength geographies and multiple diversity dimensions. It is the analysis of multiple cultures and their opportunities for cross pollination that will provide predictors of the future impact of such consolidation. Organizational environment: The environment in which an organization exists creates for it both opportunities and challenges. Anthropology¶s contribution of this dimension will certainly assist the study of Organizational Behavior in areas such as

workspace studies and the various employment arrangements available to management. As stated above, it is clear there has existed substantial basis and precedence from these four behavioral sciences as a foundation for Organizational Behavior. As each develops new theories and research it presents new challenges and opportunities to find the highest level of effectiveness for the Organizational Behavior practitioners.

References Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. A. (2007). Organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Sussmann, Mario, Vecchio, Robert P. (1982). A Social Influence Interpretation of Worker Motivation. Academy of Management. The Academy of Management Review, 7(2), 177. Retrieved September 2, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 944674). Warner, Malcolm (1994). Organizational behavior revisited. Human Relations, 47(10), 1151. Retrieved September 2, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 49053). Wertheim, E. G. Historical background of organizational behavior. Retrieved August 29, 2007, from http://web.cba.neu.edu/~ewertheim/introd/history.htm#schools. Worthen, Helena (2004). Studying the workplace: considering the usefulness of activity theory. Convergence, 37(1), 23-29. Retrieved September 2, 2007, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 772216201).