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Why Study Organizational Behavior

1. Satisfy the need to understand and predict

•   Helps us figure out why organizational events happen

2. Helps us to test personal theories

•   Helps to question and rebuild personal theories

3. Influence organizational events

•   Improves our ability to work with people and influence organizational events

Emerging Trends in Organizational Behavior

1. Trends: Globalization

•   Kraft Foods, Starbucks,  and others operate globally

--  extends its activities to other parts of the world

--  actively participates in other markets

--  competes against firms in other countries

•   Implications of globalization

--  Requires new organizational structures and different forms of communication

--  creates new career opportunities, brings in new knowledge into the firm

--  Increases competition, continuous change, mergers, downsizing, stress

--  Also need to be more sensitive to cultural differences

2. Trends: Changing workforce

•   More diversity

--  primary categories – gender, age, ethnicity, etc.

--  secondary categories -- some control over (e.g. education, marital status)

--  more women in workforce

--  new age cohorts (e.g. Generation-X, Gen-Y)

•   Implications

-- diversity potentially improves decision making, team performance, and customer service

--  risk of more discrimination, conflict, perceptual problems

-                     companies adjusting -- cultural awareness, family-friendly, empowerment


3. Trends: Emerging employment relationships

•   Employability

-- employees perform many tasks, not a specific job

-- they need to continuously learn skills

•   Contingent work

-- no explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment, or minimum hours of work can vary in a nonsystematic way

•   Telecommuting

--  working from home, usually with a computer connection to the office

--  need to replace face time with performance output

--  problems with social needs, organizational politics

•   Virtual teams -- operate across space, time, and organizational boundaries with members who communicate mainly through electronic technologies

4. Trends: Information technology and OB

•   Challenges thinking about how employees interact, how organizations are configured, and how they relate to customers

•   Network structure -- alliance of several organizations for the purpose of creating a product or serving a client -- relies on computer technology to connect these partnerships

5. Trends: Workplace values and ethics

•   Values -- stable, long-lasting beliefs about what is important in a variety of situations

•   Values discussed in different contexts – personal, cultural, organizational, professional

•   Importance of values and ethics

a.  globalization increases awareness of different values

b.  values guide behavior – replacing command-and-control direct supervision

c.  increasing emphasis on ethical business conduct

•   Ethics -- the study of moral principles or values that determine whether actions are right or wrong and outcomes are good or bad

•     Relates to most OB topics – e.g. employee monitoring, peer pressure, organizational politics


Five Anchors of Organizational Behavior

1. Multidisciplinary anchor

•   Many OB concepts adopted from other disciplines

--  e.g. psychology concepts in motivation, perceptions

--  emerging fields: communication, information systems, marketing, women’s’ studies

•   OB is developing its own models and theories, but needs to continue scanning other fields for ideas.

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 turning to qualitative research methods – e.g. grounded theory

3. Contingency anchor

•   A particular action may have different consequences in different situations -- no single solution is best in all circumstances

•   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 levels


5. Open systems anchor

•   Open systems -- organizations consist of interdependent parts that work together to continually monitor and transact with the external environment

•   Receives inputs and transforms them through technology into outputs that are returned to the external environment

•   Some output valued (services), but other output have adverse effects (e.g., layoffs, pollution)


•   External environment -- natural and social conditions outside the organization

--  stakeholders –vested interests in the organization

--  environment is increasingly turbulent – rapid change

•   Organizations need to adapt to external environment

•   Coordinate subsystems, beware unintended consequences


Knowledge Management

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

Intellectual capital

•   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 (e.g., customer loyalty)

Knowledge Management Processes

Rod Wilcox and his company, Atlantic Baking Group, quickly acquired knowledge about how to operate a cracker bakery by rehiring Nabisco employees who had been laid off from this East Liberty, PA, plant a year earlier.

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

•   Individual learning -- learning about external environment

•   Experimentation -- creativity, insight

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


3. Knowledge use

•   Knowledge awareness – know that relevant knowledge is available

•   Organization supports experiential learning


Organizational memory -- storage and preservation of intellectual capital -- includes employee knowledge and embedded knowledge

Retaining intellectual capital

•   Keeping good employees

•   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 behavior that are no longer appropriate