Organizational Behavior – Definition and Concepts

Definitions of Organizational Behavior

According to Keith Davis “organizational behavior is the study and application of knowledge about how people act within organizations. It is human tool for the human benefit. It applies broadly to behavior of people in all type of organization such as business, government, schools, etc. it helps people, structure, technology, and the external environment blend together in to an effective operative system”.

Stephen Robins defines organizational behavior as a “field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structure have an organization for the purpose of applying such knowledge improving an organization’s effectiveness“.

Organizational Behavior

There are many definitions about organizational behavior; every definition must include three important features, (1) organizational behavior is the study of human behavior, (2) study about behavior in organisations and (3) knowledge about human behavior would be useful in improving an organisation’s effectiveness.

organizational behavior is the study of what an individual thinks feels or does in and around an organisation, both individual and in group. It investigates people’s emotions and behavior, behavior and performances in a team, systems and structures of organisations. It helps to explore and provide an understanding of all the factors that are necessary to create an effective organisation.

Fundamental Concepts of Organizational Behavior

Organizational behavior is based on a few fundamental concepts which are relevant to the nature of people and organisations. There are some basic assumptions in organizational behavior such as, (1) difference between individuals; (2) a whole person; (3) behavior or an individual is caused; (4) an individual has dignity, (5) organisations are social systems; (6) mutuality of interest among organisational members; (7) holistic organizational behavior. Now let’s look at all assumptions in detail:

  1. Individual differences idea comes from psychology. Every person is different from the day of birth, every person is unique and personal experiences make a person more different than the other. Every individual differs in many ways like intelligence, physique, personality, learning capability, communicative ability etc. Therefore only an individual can take responsibility and make decisions, whereas a group is powerless until all the individuals within the group act accordingly.
  2. A whole person indicates that when an individual is appointed in an organisation, he/she is not hired only on the basis of skills, but also on likes and dislikes, pride and prejudices. An individual’s way of living in a family cannot be separated from organisational life. This is why the organisations need to provide their employees with a proper work environment where they can work hard to progress and develop their abilities to become a better employee and also a better person in terms of growth and fulfillment.
  3. Caused behavior indicates that when an individual behaves in an unmannerly fashion then there is a cause behind it. Anything could be the reason of this cause such as personal problems at home within the family, or problems with coming early to the office etc. If an individual starts reacting in an unmannerly fashion with other staff members then a manager should understand that there is definitely a cause behind it. Managers should investigate about the cause and tackle the issue at the root level.
  4. Human dignity indicates that every individual needs to be treated differently. It shows human dignity because people at every level of professional ladder want to be treated with respect and dignity. Every job needs to be done with respect and recognition this helps every individuals aspirations and abilities to improve. The concept of human dignity rejects the idea of using employees as economic tools.
  5. Organisations are social systems indicates that from sociology we know that organisations are social systems; therefore the activities within the organisations are governed by social and psychological laws. Organisations have formal and informal social systems. Social systems in an organisation indicate that the company has dynamic change ability rather than static set of relations. Every part in the system is interdependent on each other.
  6. Mutuality of interest indicates that both the organisation and people need each other. Organisations are formed and maintained on the basis of some mutuality of interest among the participants. People require organisations to reach their goals, while organisation needs people to reach organisational objectives. Lack of mutual interest causes disorientation among the participants and the group. Mutual interest provides a common goal for all the participants, which results in encouragement of the people to tackle problems of the organisation instead of raising fingers at each other.
  7. Holistic concept indicates that when all the above six concepts of organisational behavior are placed together a holistic concept arises. This concept interprets the relationship between people and organisation in terms of the whole person, entire group, entire organisation and the whole social system. Views of different people are taken into account in an organisation to understand the factors that influence their behavior. Issues are analyzed in terms of the total situation affecting them rather than in terms of an event or problem.

There are many factors that affect an individual, a group and an organisation. For example factors individual factors like personality, perception, learning, attitude, job satisfaction and motivation. Group factors like leadership, power and politics, communication and conflicts. Organisation factors like human resource policies and practices, work stress, change and development.