What is Organizational Behavior ?

What is Organizational Behavior ? Learning Objectives:

After studying, you can be able to …

  • Define organizational behavior.
  • Demonstrate the importance of interpersonal skills in the workplace.
  • Describe the manager’s function, roles, and skills.
  • The value to organizational behavior of systematic study.
  • Identify the major behavioral science disciplines that contribute to OB.
  • Identify the challenges and opportunities managers have in using OB concept.

Define organizational behavior:

Organizational behavior is a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structure have on behavior within organizations, for the purpose of applying such knowledge toward improving organizations effectiveness. 

OB is a distinct area of expertise with a common body of knowledge. Organizational behavior studies three determinants of behavior in organizations; individuals, groups, and structure. Organizational behavior is concerned with the study of what people do in an organization and how their behavior affects the organization’s performance.

There is increasing agreement as to the components that constitute the subject area of OB. It’s includes the core topics of motivation, leader behavior and power, interpersonal communication, group structure and processes, learning, attitude development and perception, change processes, conflict, work design, and work stress.

The importance of interpersonal skills in the workplace:

Recognition of the importance of developing manager’s interpersonal skills is closely tied to the need for organizations to get and keep high performing employees. Regardless of labor market conditions, outstanding employees are always short supply. Companies with reputations as good places to work have a big advantage. A study of the U.S. workforce, found that wages and fringe benefits are not the main reasons, people like their jobs or stay with an employer. Far more important is the quality of the employee’s job and the supportiveness of the work environment.

So, having managers with good interpersonal skills is likely to make the workplace more pleasant, which, in turn, makes it easier to hire and keep qualified people. In addition, creating a pleasant workplace appears to make good economic sense.

We understand that technical skills are necessary, but they are not enough to succeed in management. Today’s increasingly competitive and demanding workplace, managers can’t succeed on their technical skills alone.

Describe the manager’s function, roles, and skills:

Managers get things done by other people. Managers make decisions allocate resources, and direct the activities of others to attain goals.

Manager’s Functions: Henri Fayol wrote that all managers perform five management functions; planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. But today, we have condensed these to four; planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

The planning function encompasses defining an organization’s goal, establishing an strategy for achieving those goals, and developing a comprehensive set of plans to integrate and coordinate activities.

Managers are also responsible for designing an organization’s structure, that we call this function organizing. Organizing includes determining what tasks are to be done, who is to do them, how the tasks are to be grouped, who reports to whom, and where decisions are to be made.

Every organization contains people; it is management job to direct and coordinate those people, that’s called leading function. When managers motivate employees, direct the activities of others, select the most effective communication channels, they’re engaging in leading.

Now the final function managers perform is controlling. To ensure that things are going as they should, management must monitor the organizations performance.

Managers Roles:

There has two three roles;

  • Interpersonal Roles
  • Informational Roles
  • Decisional  Roles

Interpersonal Roles: There has three roles included; figurehead, leader, and liaison. Figurehead is symbolic head; required to perform a number of routine duties of a legal or social nature. Leader is responsible for the motivation and direction of employees. Liaison is maintains a network of outside contacts who provide favors and information.

Informational Roles: All managers collect information from outside organizations and institutions. Informational roles have three roles; monitor, disseminator, spokesperson. Monitor is receives a wide variety of information; serves as nerve center of internal and external information of the organization. Disseminator transmits information received from outsiders or from other employees to members of the organization. Spokesperson is transmitting information to outsiders on organization’s plan, policies, actions, and results; serves as expert on organization’s industry.

Decisional Roles:  Mintzberg identified four roles that, revolve around making choices; entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, negotiator. Entrepreneur searches organization and its environment for opportunities and initiates project to bring about change. Disturbance handler is responsible for corrective action when organization faces important, unexpected disturbances. Resource allocator makes or approves significant organizational decisions. Negotiator is responsible for representing the organization at major negotiations.

Manager’s Skills: Robert Katz has identified three essential manager’s skills; technical, human, and conceptual skills.

Technical skills: These skills encompass the ability to apply specialized knowledge or expertise.

Human Skills: The ability to work with, understand, and motivate other people, both individually and in groups, defines human skills.

Conceptual Skills: Managers must have the mental ability to analyze complex situations. These tasks require conceptual skills.

The value to organizational behavior of systematic study:

Each of us is student of behavior. Since our earliest years, we have watched the actions of others & have attempted to interpret what we see. You watch what others do and try to explain to yourself why they have engaged in their behavior, and you have attempted to predict what they might do under different sets of conditions. Unfortunately, your commonsense approach to reading others can often lead to erroneous predictions. You can improve your predictive ability by supplementing your intuitive opinions with a more systematic approach.

Systematic approach is the belief that behavior is not random. Rather, there are certain fundamental consistencies underlying the behavior of all individuals that can be identified. And then modified to reflect individual differences. These fundamental consistencies are very important, because they allow predictability. Behavior is generally predictable and systematic study of behavior. That means to make reasonably accurate predictions. When we use the phrase systematic study, we mean looking at relationships, attempting to attribute causes and effects, and basing our conclusions on scientific evidence that is, on data gathered under controlled conditions and measured and interpreted in a reasonably rigorous manner. 

Identify the major behavioral science disciplines that contribute to Organizational Behavior:

Organizational behavior is an applied behavioral science. That is built on contribution from a number of behavioral disciplines. Main areas are psychology and social psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Psychology’s contribution has been mainly at the individual or micro level of analysis, while the other discipline has contributed to our understanding of macro concepts such as group processes and organization.


Psychology is the science that seeks to measure, explain, and something changes the behavior of humans. Psychologists concern themselves with studying to understanding individual behavior. Recently, their contributions have been expanded to include learning, perception, emotion, personality, training, leadership, needs, motivational forces, job satisfaction, decision making, attitude measurement, performance appraisals, employee selection technique, and work design.

Social psychology:

Social psychology blends concepts from both sociology and psychology, though it is generally considered a branch of psychology. Basically, it focuses on peoples influence on one another. Social psychologists making significant contributions in the areas of measuring, understanding, and changing attitudes, communication patterns, and building trust.


While psychology focuses on the individual; sociology studies people in relation to their social environment or culture .sociologists have contributed to OB through their study of group behavior in organizations, particularly formal and complex organizations. Perhaps most importantly, sociology has contributed to research on organizational culture, formal organization theory and structure, organizational technology, communications, power, and conflict.


Anthropology is the study of societies to learn about human beings and activities. Anthropologists work on cultures and environments has helped us understand differences in fundamental values, attitudes, and behavior between people in different countries and different organizations. Our current understanding of organizational culture, organizational environments, and differences between national cultures is a result of the work of anthropologists.

Identify the challenges and opportunities managers have in using OB concept:

Here, we review some of the most critical issues confronting managers for which OB offers solutions.

  • Responding to Globalization
  • Increased Foreign Assignments
  • Working with People from Different Cultures
  • Coping with Anti-capitalism Backlash