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Organizational studies, organizational behavior, and organizational theory are related terms for the academic study of organizations, examining them using the methods of economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, communication studies, and psychology. Related practical disciplines include strategic management, human resources and industrial and organizational psychology.
- 1 Overview of the field
- 2 History
- 3 Specific Contributions
- 4 Current state of the field
- 5 Methods used in organizational studies
- 6 Systems framework
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Overview of the field[edit | edit source]
Organizational studies encompasses the study of organizations from multiple viewpoints, methods, and levels of analysis. For instance, a traditional distinction, present especially in American academia, is between the study of "micro" organizational behavior -- which refers to individual and group dynamics in an organizational setting -- and "macro" organizational theory which studies whole organizations, how they adapt, and the strategies and structures that guide them. To this distinction, some scholars have added an interest in "meso" -- primarily interested in power, culture, and the networks of individuals and units in organizations -- and "field" level analysis which study how whole populations of organizations interact. In Europe these distinctions do exist as well, but are more rarely reflected in departmental divisions.
Whenever people interact in organizations, many factors come into play. Organizational studies attempt to understand and model these factors. Like all social sciences, organizational studies seeks to control, predict, and explain. There is some controversy over the ethics of controlling workers' behaviour. As such, organizational behaviour or OB (and its cousin, Industrial psychology) have at times been accused of being the scientific tool of the powerful.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Those accusations notwithstanding, OB can play a major role in organizational development and success.
History[edit | edit source]
The Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the essence of leadership. Aristotle addressed the topic of persuasive communication. The writings of 16th century Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli laid the foundation for contemporary work on organizational power and politics. In 1776, Adam Smith advocated a new form of organizational structure based on the division of labour. One hundred years later, German sociologist Max Weber wrote about rational organizations and initiated discussion of charismatic leadership. Soon after, Frederick Winslow Taylor introduced the systematic use of goal setting and rewards to motivate employees. In the 1920's, Australian-born Harvard professor Elton Mayo and his colleagues conducted productivity studies at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant in the United States.
Though it traces its roots back to Max Weber and earlier, organizational studies is generally considered to have begun as an academic discipline with the advent of scientific management in the 1890s, with Taylorism representing the peak of this movement. Proponents of scientific management held that rationalizing the organization with precise sets of instructions and time-motion studies would lead to increased productivity. Studies of different compensation systems were carried out.
After the First World War, the focus of organizational studies shifted to analysis of how human factors and psychology affected organizations, a transformation propelled by the identification of the Hawthorne Effect. This Human Relations Movement focused on teams, motivation, and the actualization of the goals of individuals within organizations.
The Second World War further shifted the field, as the invention of large-scale logistics and operations research led to a renewed interest in rationalist approaches to the study of organizations. Interest grew in theory and methods native to the sciences, including systems theory, the study of organizations with a complexity theory perspective and complexity strategy. Influential work was done by Herbert Alexander Simon and James G. March and the so-called "Carnegie School" of organizational behavior.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the field was strongly influenced by social psychology and the emphasis in academic study was on quantitative research. An explosion of theorizing, much of it at Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon, produced Bounded Rationality, Informal Organization, Contingency Theory, Resource Dependence, Institutional Theory, and Population Ecology theories, among many others.
Starting in the 1980s, cultural explanations of organizations and change became an important part of study. Qualitative methods of study became more acceptable, informed by anthropology, psychology and sociology. A leading scholar was Karl Weick.
Specific Contributions[edit | edit source]
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915):
Taylor was the first person who attempted to study human behavior at work using a systematic approach. Taylor studied human characteristics, social environment, task, physical environment, capacity, speed, durability, cost and their interaction with each other. His overall objective was to reduce and/or remove human variability. Taylor worked to achieve his goal of making work behaviors stable and predictable so that maximum output could be achieved. He relied strongly upon monetary incentive systems, believing that humans are primarily motivated by money. He faced some strong criticism, including being accused of telling managers to treat workers as machines without minds, but his work was very productive and laid many foundation principles for modern management study.
Elton Mayo, an Australian national, headed the Hawthorne Studies at Harvard. In his classic writing in 1931, Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization, he advised managers to deal with emotional needs of employees at work.
Mary Parker Follett was a pioneer woman management consultant in the industrial world, which was mainly dominated by males. As a writer, she provided analyses on workers as having complex combinations of attitude, beliefs, and needs. She told managers to motivate employees on their job performance, a“pull” rather than a "push" strategy.
Douglas McGregor proposed two theories/assumptions, which are very nearly the opposite of each other, about human nature based on his experience as a management consultant. His first theory was “Theory X”, which is pessimistic and negative; and according to McGregor it is how managers traditionally perceive their workers. Then, in order to help managers replace that theory/assumption, he gave “Theory Y” which takes a more modern and positive approach. He believed that managers could achieve more if managers start perceiving their employees as self-energized, committed, responsible and creative beings. By means of his Theory Y, he in fact challenged the traditional theorists to adopt a developmental approach to their employees. He also wrote a book The Human Side of Enterprise in 1960; this book has become a foundation for the modern view of employees at work.
Current state of the field[edit | edit source]
Organizational behaviour is currently a growing field. Organizational studies departments generally form part of business schools, although many universities also have industrial psychology and industrial economics programs.
The field is highly influential in the business world with practitioners like Peter Drucker and Peter Senge, who turned the academic research into business practices. Organizational behaviour is becoming more important in the global economy as people with diverse backgrounds and cultural values have to work together effectively and efficiently. It is also under increasing criticism as a field for its ethnocentric and pro-capitalist assumptions (see Critical Management Studies).
Methods used in organizational studies[edit | edit source]
A variety of methods are used in organizational studies. They include quantitative methods found in other social sciences such as multiple regression, Non-parametric statistics, time dependent analysis, and ANOVA. In addition, computer simulation in organizational studies has a long history in organizational studies. Qualitative methods are also used, such as ethnography, which involves direct participant observation, single and multiple case analysis, and other historical methods. In the last fifteen years or so, there has been greater focus on language, metaphors, and organizational storytelling.
Systems framework[edit | edit source]
The systems framework is also fundamental to organizational theory as organizations are complex dynamic goal-oriented processes. One of the early thinkers in the field was Alexander Bogdanov, who developed his Tectology, a theory widely considered a precursor of Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory, aiming to model and design human organizations. Kurt Lewin was particularly influential in developing the systems perspective within organizational theory and coined the term "systems of ideology", from his frustration with behavioural psychologies that became an obstacle to sustainable work in psychology (see Ash 1992: 198-207). Jay Forrester with his work in dynamics and management alongside numerous theorists including Edgar Schein that followed in their tradition since the Civil Rights Era have also been influential. The complexity theory perspective on organizations is another systems view of organizations.
The systems approach to organizations relies heavily upon achieving negative entropy through openness and feedback. A systemic view on organizations is transdisciplinary and integrative. In other words, it transcends the perspectives of individual disciplines, integrating them on the basis of a common "code", or more exactly, on the basis of the formal apparatus provided by systems theory. The systems approach gives primacy to the interrelationships, not to the elements of the system. It is from these dynamic interrelationships that new properties of the system emerge. In recent years, systems thinking has been developed to provide techniques for studying systems in holistic ways to supplement traditional reductionistic methods. In this more recent tradition, systems theory in organizational studies is considered by some as a humanistic extension of the natural sciences.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Organization design
- Organization development
- Organizational Dissent
- Organizational empowerment
- Organizational engineering
Theories and models of organizational studies[edit | edit source]
Decision making[edit | edit source]
Organization structures and dynamics[edit | edit source]
- Complexity theory and organizations
- Contingency theory
- Evolutionary Theory and organizations
- Hybrid Organisation
- Incentive theory (organization)
- Informal Organization
- Institutional theory
- Organizational ecology
- Model of Organizational Citizenship behaviour
- Model of organizational justice
- Model of Organizational Misbehaviour
- Resource dependence theory
- Transaction cost
- Hofstede's Framework for Assessing Cultures
Personality traits theories[edit | edit source]
- Big Five personality traits
- Holland's Typology of Personality and Congruent Occupations
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Control and stress modelling[edit | edit source]
Motivation in Organizations[edit | edit source]
Template:Section-cleanup "Although motivation is a broad and complex concept, organizational scientists have agreed on its basic characteristics. Drawing from various social sciences, we define motivation as the set of processes that arouse, direct, and maintain human behavior toward attaining some goal" (Baron et al. 248)
There are many different Motivation Theories such as:
- Attribution theory
- Equity theory
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Incentive theory (psychology)
- Model of Emotional labor in organizations
Sources Cited Baron, Robert A., & Greenberg, Jerald. Behavior in organizations - 9th edition. Pearson Education Inc., New Jersey: 2008.
[edit | edit source]
Primary organization-focused journals[edit | edit source]
- Administrative Science Quarterly 
- Organizational Science 
- Academy of Management Journal 
- Academy of Management Review 
- Strategic Management Journal 
- Strategic Organization - SO! 
- Management Science 
Other journals[edit | edit source]
- Journal of Management 
- Journal of Applied Psychology 
- Organization Studies 
- Organization 
- Management Learning 
- International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management 
- Journal of Organizational Change Management 
- European Management Review 
- Anthropology of Work Review 
- Research in Organizational behaviour 
- Journal of Organizational behaviour
- Organizational behaviour and Human Decision Processes 
- Human Relations 
References[edit | edit source]
- Ash, M.G. 1992. "Cultural Contexts and Scientific Change in Psychology: Kurt Lewin in Iowa." American Psychologist, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 198-207.
- Robbins, Stephen P. Organizational Behavior - Concepts, Controversies, Applications. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall (2004) ISBN 0-13-170901-1.
- Weick, Karl E. The Social Psychology of Organizing 2nd Ed. McGraw Hill (1979) ISBN 0-07-554808-9.
- Simon, Herbert A. Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Admini
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