Organizational Behaviour
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Organizational Behaviour

Ray French, Charlotte Rayner, Gary Rees, Sally Rumbles, John R. Schermerhorn, Richard N. Osborn

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eBook - ePub

Organizational Behaviour

Ray French, Charlotte Rayner, Gary Rees, Sally Rumbles, John R. Schermerhorn, Richard N. Osborn

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Organizational Behaviour, 3rd Edition, builds on the strengths and successes of the previous editions and has been fully updated to reflect changes in the world of work and the context of organizational behaviour within that world.

The authors combine a managerial approach, focusing on practical, real-world applications, with a rigorous critical perspective that analyses the research behind the theories. The text addresses alternative theoretical perspectives in parallel to the introduction of new worldwide cases and examples. The concise coverage of the core topics can be applied to both one-semester and year-long teaching and learning patterns.

In addition, the text includes a strong, applied focus stressing the applicability of all topic areas in work organizations, as well as examples from across a wide variety of business and geographic sectors.

The fully updated online-resource package includes PowerPoint slides, a lecturer test bank, instructor's manual and additional cases. Students can access self-test quizzes, glossary flashcards, a student study guide and links to relevant journal articles, as well as interactive modules and skills assessments. For more information and full access to the online resources, visit

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CHAPTER 1What Is Organizational Behaviour?
Managing people in work organizations can be a richly rewarding activity. Helping people to develop and sustain their potential is fulfilling on several levels, but managing people is demanding too, as tough decisions are frequently required. For many of us the subjects covered in this book are not only interesting in themselves but also relevant and topical. Even if we are not in management roles, the topic areas we identify and discuss in this book can illuminate understanding of our own working lives – and those of others.
Organizational behaviour (OB) focuses on the behaviour of individuals and groups at work and provides explanations for such behaviour through examining a wide range of topics – which we will go on to explore in subsequent chapters. OB can be viewed as an applied discipline. Managing people effectively is widely seen as a critically important element in achieving the aims of work organizations, and therefore working towards their ultimate success. However, people can behave in unpredictable and seemingly contrary ways, so the management of people at work, while both interesting and rewarding, is also a challenging area.
In this first part of our book, we aim to underpin the subject matter set out in Chapters 212 by highlighting some broader issues relating to OB. We will explore the nature of this subject area by identifying differing definitions of OB and the subject disciplines that make up the OB terrain. We will also examine some of OB's key features. In this context, one important issue is the extent to which findings from OB research can be regarded as valid in academic terms: how far can and/or should OB be regarded as ‘scientific’? For if OB findings are fundamentally flawed – possibly based on erroneous common sense – or are the result of fads and fashions which don't endure, the relevance of the subject must be strictly limited. In this book we aim to set out OB concepts and models which stand up to rigorous scrutiny. Some stem from an established ‘classical’ body of knowledge, while others are more recent, several highlighting major changes in the social and economic environment within which organizations operate. The impact of globalization is one such contextual factor or ‘megatrend’. We aim to highlight important issues affecting contemporary organizations, apply these within the OB subject area and, in so doing, show how an understanding of OB can illuminate the reality of work organizations – to the benefit of everyone connected with them.


What is Organizational Behaviour?

learning objectives
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
  • understand the nature and scope of organizational behaviour (OB) as a subject area
  • discuss the relevance of OB as an aid to fostering effective performance within work organizations
  • identify contemporary themes in OB linked to ‘megatrends’ affecting the world of work.
In 2013, the London-based Sunday Times produced its annual list of the ‘100 best companies to work for’. Each year since 2001 the newspaper has published the results of a large-scale survey highlighting examples of organizational policies and practices which, it claims, contribute to high levels of satisfaction among employees.
The key premise that underlies the survey, and resulting list of great places to work, is that employee satisfaction (at least in their working lives) is linked to specific areas. These are listed below and are, we propose, key to the effective management of people.
The Sunday Times survey’s methodology seeks to unravel workers’ perceptions of eight factors (or key areas). Work organizations score strongly, and hence feature in the upper echelons of the list of best places to work, if employees ‘exhibit strength’1 in the following broad topic areas:
  • leadership – under this heading workers are asked to give their views on the company head, senior managers and the quality of leadership provided by these individuals;
  • well-being – this factor encompasses workers’ perceived stress levels and in particular their work–home life balance;
  • my manager – recognizing that senior managers may have little or no day-to-day contact with workers, this category records people’s feelings about their immediate supervisor(s) or manager(s);
  • my team – this aspect explores employees’ feelings concerning close work colleagues at a similar level in terms of role and seniority;
  • fair deal – here workers express their feelings on their pay and other benefits within the broad area of remuneration and reward;
  • giving something back – workers are asked to comment on how much they believe their company puts back into society and, more specifically, the local community in which they are based;
  • my company – the questioning in this case centres on feelings towards the employing organization, as opposed to co-workers;
  • personal growth – employees record their views on the extent to which they feel challenged by their own job, whether their skills and other attributes are fully used and on their perceived scope for advancement.
The casual dining restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday’s scored highly in the 2013 Sunday Times ‘best companies’ survey, coming third in the mid-sized category. The organization was formed in 1965 by a perfume salesman, Alan Stillman, in New York, who saw opening a bar as a good way to meet women. Major expansion followed, and in 2013 the T.G.I. chain had 920 restaurants worldwide, spanning 59 countries and territories. The T.G.I. brand forms part of Carlson and T.G.I. Friday’s UK comprised 55 restaurants employing 4114 people at the time of the survey.
T.G.I. Friday’s success casts an interesting light on the factors that people perceive as making an organization a good employer. It scored particularly highly in the ‘my team’ heading, with 85% of respondents rating T.G.I. Friday’s highly in this regard (the second highest in the category). Respondents reported a strong sense of family within their team and there was a widespread buzz linked to working in teams. Other very high scores were in the ‘leadership’ (83%) and ‘my manager’ (82%) areas. In terms of pay and benefits, 74% of T.G.I. Friday’s employees felt fairly treated, which was the second-highest score in the mid-sized category. Many researchers in OB have highlighted the importance of perceived fairness in pay and benefits – a theme we return to in subsequent chapters.
A closer look at the headings listed here reveals further interesting findings. Managers’ leadership was rated highly by 86% of respondents – the highest of the mid-sized companies. Managers were seen as excellent role models (81%), while 84% agreed that T.G.I. Friday’s managers took an interest in their well-being. Overall, 81% felt motivated – again the top score within the category.
Such positive evaluations do not, of course, just happen. T.G.I. Friday’s UK Managing Director Karen Forrester has laid great stress on the contribution of workers, attributing success to staff efforts and noting that ‘happy and well-engaged people do a great job’. Forrester’s appointment in 2007 was followed by comprehensive staff re-training, with a special focus on achievement. Team challenges now take place between restaurants with rewards ranging from trips abroad to pins which are worn as ‘badges of honour’.
It should be noted, finally, that our use of the terms ‘staff’ and ‘workers’ is generic since T.G.I. Friday’s does not refer to its employees as such – using the term ‘family’ instead. The labels and other symbols of an organization can be significant and signify its own ‘culture’ – a term we go on to explore fully in Chapter 7.
Later in this chapter we will focus on the links between positive application of OB concepts, high levels of employee engagement and effective performance at work. We see in the Sunday Times survey, and the specific example of T.G.I. Friday’s, how these links could play out in reality.
  1. Look again at the eight factors or key areas listed in the Sunday Times survey. Which are the three most important to you and why?
  2. Identify organizations that in your experience are not ‘great places to work’. Give reasons for your conclusions.
These questions are intended to generate thought and discussion prior to commencing your study of OB. We will refer to issues raised in greater detail throughout the book.

The Nature and Scope of OB

Defining OB

Although there is broad agreement on the subject matter covered by OB, there are some illuminating differences in actual definitions or conceptions of the term. Consider, for example, the varying nuances of meaning contained in two statements taken from leading OB textbooks. The first is this: ‘Organizational behaviour is concerned with the study of people within an organizational setting. It involves the understanding, prediction and control of human behaviour.’2 Contrast this with the statement that OB should be viewed: ‘first and foremost as practices of organizing and meaning-making, involving thinking, feeling and acting that are not so dissimilar to everyday life’.3 The differences can be related to the philosophical stances taken by the authors. The first statement is explicitly managerial; the words ‘prediction’ and ‘control’ emphasize the performance dimension, while the second seems to highlight the subjective experience of organizational actors on their own terms as a worthwhile area for study.
For our purposes organizational behaviour is defined as the study of individuals and groups in organizations. This is a stripped-down definition that identifies the core elements of the subject while allowing readers to take insights and evidence from the OB knowledge bank and to use these in a variety of contexts and from eclectic perspectives. While the overall tone of this book is moderately managerial (we welcome situations where the goals of employers and employees coincide and happy workers contribute to legitimate organizational success), we also acknowledge alternative critical perspectives. The experiences of many workers are in reality often repugnant and we will refer to negative occurrences, possibly caused by unethical business conduct, within our ‘Counterpoint’ features.

Which Subject Disciplines Make Up OB?

OB is a composite subject – often regarded as multidisciplinary – which draws on individual subject disciplines such as psychology, sociology and anthropology. There are also links to other social sciences, such as economics and political science. Often the subjects are interrelated and it is necessary to draw on this variety of scholarly vantage points to build concepts, theories and understanding about human behaviour in organizations. Psychology is the study of mental life, with a particular focus on the individual’s thought processes and behaviour. Sociology is the study of social structures and patterns, both...