An organisation is commonly defined as a group of people who work together in a consciously coordinated social unit for a shared purpose. Management refers to the activity of controlling and organizing people to accomplish its goals. In today’s increasingly global and competitive environment the effective management of people is even more important to the successful performance of the work organisations. Therefore, the managers need to understand the main influences on how people behave in an organisation setting.
Mullins (2008, p.4) defined organisation behaviour (OB) as ‘the study and understanding of individual and group behaviour, and patterns of structure in order to help improve organisational performance and effectiveness’. It comprises a synthesis of a variety of different theories and approaches. Therefore, this essay opens by briefly explore a number of interrelated disciplined to the study of organisational behaviour, before examining the relevance of four main approach to the subject in today’s workplace. Finally, it discusses the purpose of organisations.
Interrelated discipline to the study of organisational behaviour The study of behaviour can be viewed in terms of three main disciplines – psychology, sociology and anthropology. The contribution of all three disciplines has played an important role to studying organisational behaviour. Psychology is the science and art of explaining mental processes and behaviour. The main focus of attention is on the individuals and explores such concepts as perception, motivation, perception and attitudes. It is arguable that McKenna considers psychology as the key discipline in studying organisational behaviour.
There are five key areas in Psychology that can impact on organisations; these are: psychological psychology, cognitive psychology, development psychology, social psychology and personality psychology.
Psychological aspects are useful to the practical applications such as job analysis, interviewing models or selection, but it provide too narrow view for understanding of organisational behaviour which ‘is not concern with the complex detail of individual differences but with the behaviour and management people of people’ (Mullins, 2008, p. 7).
Watson (2008) defined sociology is more concern with the study of social behaviour, relationships among social groups and societies. It focuses on group dynamics, conflict, work teams, power, communication and intergroup behaviour. It is possible that Watson considered sociology to be the key discipline in studying organisations though he also places emphasis on economics. The structuration reflects the dual effect that individuals make society and society makes individuals. Watson (2008, p. 30) presents six strands of thought applied to his framework for analysis. He further presents six substantive areas applied to the six strands of though in a matrix which are work, society and change; work organisations; the changing organisation and the management of work, occupations and society; work experiences, opportunities of meanings; and conflict challenge and resistance in work.
This discipline is valuable to the organisation. It helps managers recognise the relationships between large-scale social forces and the actions of individual. However, Mullins (2008, p. 7) argues that the study of organisational behaviour cannot be studied entirely in single discipline. Although each discipline has an important contribution, it just underpins the study of subject. Indeed, Mullins synthesises interrelated disciplines which are psychology with sociology, anthropology that explore culture and behavioural factors; economics that attempts to provide a rational explanatory framework for individual and organisational activity; and political science that is study of power and control between individual and groups; in his framework for analysis of organisational behaviour.
III. Four main approaches In Mullins’ framework, the study of organisational behaviour is concerned with not only the behaviour in isolation, but with interaction among the structure and operation of organisations, the process of management and behaviour of people that are affected by external environment. He applies a number of approaches to organisation:
1. Classical 2. Human Relations 3. Systems 4. Contingency
The classical writers considered organisation in terms of purpose and formal structure with attention to hierarchy of management and technical requirements of organisation. Frederick Taylor with the Scientific Management had a major contribution to the Classical Approach. Taylor’s theory was based on the psychological discipline that is concerned with the study of individuals’ behavior. He believed that individuals behave rationally toward financial incentive. Worker would be motivated by highest possible wages by doing highest grade of work.
Furthermore, his main objective is to find more efficient methods and procedures for the task design and control of work. Combined with training workers, it was always possible to find the one best way to perform each task. It was criticized that since workers passively do repeated task and paid by result, the less human approach can cause a decline in worker morale as well as in skill requirements, reducing flexibility.Nevertheless,massive productioncompanies stilladopt partially Taylor’s theory in order to maintain or increase productivity. For example, Mc Donald uses the payment method of Taylor’s theory to motivate and encourage the workers. The human who work in fast food restaurant are trained to do a limited number of tasks in precisely.
Human Relations is a managerial approach based on the consideration of and the attention to the social factors at work and the behavior of employees. Attention is paid to the informal organization and the satisfaction of individual’s needs through groups at work. Elton Mayo (1880-1949) conducted Hawthorne tests on organizations to access productivity. He moved away from scientific beliefs on money and discipline towards importance of group belonging (social study). The tests examined effect of group piecework pay system on productivity. The result is that workers did not necessarily seek to maximize production in order to receive enhanced bonuses but social pressure caused them to produce at group norm level.
On the other hand, the research was originally intended to examine effects of lighting on productivity. As a consequence, productivity increased regardless of lighting level was due to workers’ receiving attention. The Hawthorne effect adopted in Human relation approach suggested that good supervision and environment increase satisfaction and other variables affect this, such as structure, leadership, and culture. Unlike the classical thought with consideration of improving productivity, human relation approach ‘strove for a greater understanding of people’s psychological and social needs at work as well as improving the process of management. However, Mullins (2008, p. 29) criticized human relations as a ‘unitary frame of reference’ and oversimplified theories. Even today the Hawthorne experiment is still useful for describing the changes in behavior of individuals and groups, and opened the door to more experiments by other sub-division of approach known as neo human relation.
The system approach to the study of organizations combines the contrasting position of the classical approach, which emphasized the technical requirements of organization and its needs – ‘organization without people’, and human relations approach, which emphasized the human fulfillments and social aspects – ‘people without organization’. This approach inspires managers to regard organization as an open system interacting with environment and to view total work but not the sum of separate parts. In Figure 2.5 (Boddy, 2008, p.60), the system consists of a number of interrelated subsystems, such as people, power, technology or business processes system; which add complexity and interact with each other and external environment. It is stated that any part of an organization’s activity affects all other parts because there are areas overlap between various subsystems.
Therefore, it is the task of management to integrate these interrelated subsystems and direct efforts of members towards the achievement of organizational goals. The system approach, which is components of interrelated subsystems, provides analysis of organizational performance and effectiveness while the socio-technical approach takesorganization as viewed by the individual members and their interpretation of the work situation. In time of increasing globalization, technological change has influenced on the behavior of people and other parts, thus the whole system. It is valuable for manager to manage the total work and coordinate the technical change and the needs of individuals.
According to Mullins (2008, p. 31), the contingency approach rejects the idea of ‘one best form or structure’ or ‘optimum state’ for organizations. The organizations needs to be flexible to cope with change and managers need to change structure and processes required. This approach influenced many management practices such as market research, PR or strategic planning, which stress response to external conditions. Furthermore, it emphasized that the practice depends on people interpreting events and managers be able to have subjective judgments as much as rational analysis. The contingency approach is relevant to management and organizational behavior. It provides a setting in which to view large number of variables factors that influence on the organizational performance. Hence, it enables process of management to change the structure of organization at the expense of the need for stability and efficiency.
The purpose of organizations As defined earlier in this essay, organization is a group of people who work together in a structured way for a shared purpose. It is a task for management to clarify strategy, which tell people how to work, where to go, and what to achieve. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the nature of strategy for the formal organization in order to study organizational behavior. Johnson et al. (cited in Mullins, 2008, p. 350) define the strategy is ‘the direction and scope of an organization over the long term, which achieves advantage in a changing environment through its configuration of resources and competences with aim of fulfilling stake holder expectation’. People dimension of strategy is concerned with people as a resource; people and behavior and organizing people, therefore, influencing behavior of people to achieve success and motivation of individuals are central part of organization’s strategy.
Mullins (2008, p. 352) stated that ‘the goals of an organization are the reason for its existence’. It is the desired state for organization to pursue in the future. Therefore, an organization gains its effectiveness and performance through achieving its goal. To be effective, the goals need to be clearly stated and understandable, thus making impossible for people in organization to perceive. It is clearly evident that goal setting promote immediately behavior of people at work and it can be considered as successful tools of increasing work motivation and effectiveness. An organizational goal are likely to achieve when informal goal, which are defined by individual and based on both perception and personal motivation, are compatible with organizational goals.
Therefore, it is crucial role for management to integrate the needs of individuals with the overall objective of the organization. Organizational goals are generally translated into objectives that set out more specifically the goals of organization. Drucker (cited in Mullins, 2008) indicated eight key areas for setting objectives, which ‘are needed in every area where performance and results directly and vitally affect the survival and prosperity of the business’. SWOT analysis, which focuses on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing the organization, draw out strategic implication.First, Strengths are internal aspects of organization that give it competitive advantage over others in the industry such as size, structure, technology, reputation or staffing. Second, Weaknesses are those negative aspects that place organization at a disadvantage regarding to other.
Examples of weaknesses could be operating within narrow market, limited resource, and lack of information. Third, Opportunities are favorable chances arise from external environment which provides potential for the organization to offer new, or to develop existing goods or services. Finally, Threats are external elements in the environment that cause trouble for the organization. For example, change in law, increasing tax or competition from other organizations. SWOT analysis may be used in evaluating any decision-making situation when a desired end results (objectives) has been defined.
In conclusion, this essay has been identified the main approaches to the study of organization. In the first section, it provides a discussion on the interrelated disciplines of Organizational behavior, which is Psychology and Sociology. McKenna stated his idea that psychology has the biggest contribution to the study of subject; whereas Watson placed emphasis on sociology. However, the subject is rooted in multidisciplinary and cannot be undertaken in any single discipline. In Mullins’ framework, he examines a broader view, and then presents four main approaches to the study of organizational behavior. In the final section, this essay has defined the strategy that directs to the goal and objective of organization, and commented on the usefulness and relevance of SWOT analysis in evaluating the strategy.