What is Organizational Behavior?

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What is Organizational Behavior?

Organizational behavior (OB) is defined as the systematic study and application of knowledge about how individuals and groups act within the organizations where they work.

It is the study of human behavior in organizational settings, how human behavior interacts with the organization, and the organization itself. Organizational behavior theories inform real-world evaluation and management of groups of people.

Organizational Behavior
Organizational Behavior

Organisational Behavior:

  • is a field of study with a common body of knowledge

  • studies three determinants of behaviour in Organisations – those of individuals, groups and structures

  • applies the knowledge gained about individuals, groups and the effect of structure on behaviour in order to make Organisations work more effectively.

Organizational Behavior Definition

A field of study that investigates the impact of individuals, groups and structures on behaviour within organisations for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving an Organisation’s effectiveness.Stephen P Robbins
Organizational behavior can be defined as the understanding; prediction and management of the human behavior affect the performance of the organizations.Luthans
The study and application of knowledge how people act or behave within organization. It is a human tool for human benefit. It applies broadly to the behavior of people in all types of organizations such as business, government, school and service organizations.Davis and Newstrom

Organizational Behavior Theories

3 important stream of classical organizational behavior theories Management are discussed below:

  1. Bureaucracy Theory
  2. Scientific Management Theory
  3. Process Management Theory

Bureaucracy Theory

Max Weber (1864-1920) a German sociologist introduced the theory of Bureaucracy. His major contribution to the theory is the concept of authority, structure and its inter-se relationship.

Weber in his model of bureaucracy stated that there are three types of authority in any organization.

  • Legal authority indicating that a person holds authority based on legal position or rank within the hierarchy.

  • Traditional authority: employees obey a person because he comes from a traditionally recognized power holding family or a person belonging to a royal family.

  • Charismatic authority: which indicates special power or an appeal that a leader possesses.

Scientific Management Theory

Scientific management approach was developed by F.W. Taylor at the beginning of the 20th century.

  • This theory supported the use of certain steps in scientifically studying each element of a job, selecting and training the best workers for the job.

  • It provided a scientific rationale for job specialization and mass production. His assumption was that employees are motivated largely by money.

  • Taylor recommended co-operation among workers as against chaotic individualism.

Process Management Theory

Process Management Theory is also known as Administrative theory. Fayol looked at the problems from the top management point of view.

He has used the term ‘administration’ instead of management emphasising that there is unity of science of administration. He has emphasised that principles of management are

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Organizational Behavior Concepts

The fundamental concepts of organizational behavior are;

  • Individual Differences.
  • Perception
  • A whole Person
  • Motivated Behavior
  • The desire for Involvement
  • The value of the Person
  • Human Dignity
  • Organizations are Social System
  • Mutuality of Interest
  • Holistic Concept

Characteristics of Organizational Behavior (OB)

Characteristics of Organizational Behavior are:

  1. Separate Field of Study and not a Discipline Only

    OB is based on multi-interdisciplinary orientation and is, thus, it is not based on a specific theoretical background.

  2. An Interdisciplinary Approach

    Organizational behavior is an applied behavioral science built on contributions from a number of behavioral disciplines, mainly psychology and social psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

  3. Applied Science

    OB can be called both science as well as art because it involve both applied research and its application in organizational analysis. 

  4. Normative Science

    OB describes how the findings of applied research can be applied to socially accepted organizational goals whereas the positive science discusses the only cause-effect relationship

  5. Humanistic and Optimistic Approach

    OB deals with the people and their interaction with organisations.

  6. Total System Approach

    System approach is one that integrates all the variables, affecting organizational functioning.

Read: What is Perception?

Need of Organizational Behavior

The Organizational Behavior Importance can be discussed as follows:

  1. Explain individual and group behavior
  2. Predict certain behavioural response to change
  3. Control Behavior

Explain individual and group behavior

We are pursuing the explanation objective when we want to know why individuals or groups behave the way they do.

For example, if the turnover rate in an Organisation is very high, we want to know the reason, so that action can be taken to correct the situation in the future.

Predict certain behavioural response to change

Prediction seeks to determine what outcomes will result from a given action. Having a sound knowledge of OB will help the manager to predict certain behavioural responses to change.

In this way, the manager can anticipate which approaches will generate the least degree of employee resistance and use that information in making decisions.

Control Behavior

The knowledge of OB can be used by managers to control behaviour. Managers frequently see the control objective as the most valuable contribution that OB makes toward their effectiveness on the job.

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Objectives of Organizational Behavior

Organizational behavior has four important roles and Objectives of Organizational Behavior are discussed below:

  1. Human resources approach
  2. Contingency approach
  3. System approach
  4. Productivity approach

4 Approaches to Organizational Behavior studies

Human Resources Approach

Organizational behaviour is mainly interested in the development of its human resources.

The employees’ growth and development in an organization are basic requirements for its continuous growth and survival.

Traditionally, managers were important for deciding on task performances and carrying them out successfully under their directions.

Contingency Approach

Behavioural science is being used for solving problems which may arise at any time. Behavioural knowledge is being applied to solve these problems. Employees are therefore trained to face any sort of problems. They should have the capacity to meet the challenges of the environment.

Different situations require different functions and behavioural approaches. It is known as the contingency approach because it believes that there is no such thing as the best way to handle the problem.

The contingency approach is an interdisciplinary and systemoriented approach of management. There is no perfect style of management.

System Approach

The system approach includes several subsystems which exist in an organization, and therefore affect each other. Managers have to look beyond immediate situations to foresee future situations.

The purpose is to improve organizational behaviour for effective management. A system is developed where people work in a congenial atmosphere.

Productivity Approach

The ultimate objective of organizational behaviour is to increase productivity. With the given inputs, if production is improved, it is a symbol of productivity improvement.

The human behaviour is developed for performing jobs in an effective manner. If people’s knowledge and skills are developed, their abilities to perform tasks also increase. Organizational behaviour influences people’s knowledge, skill, attitude, ability and performance potential.

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Key Elements of Organizational Behavior

4 elements of organizational behavior are:

  1. People
  2. Environment
  3. Structure
  4. Technology
Elements of Organizational Behaviour
Elements of Organizational Behaviour


People are the main component of any organization that has to be managed. Every individual has a personal goal to be achieved.

Organizations must identify the need spectrum of individuals and take suitable steps for its fulfillment to enable them to perform effectively so that they complete their allotted task in time.


When we talk about managing people in the organization, what we have to study and manage is the influence of culture and its impact on the individual.

Study of the environment is very wide and encompasses economic, cultural, social, government rules and regulations, legal aspects, political climate, demographics and its impact.


There are two types of organizations, formal and informal.

  • Informal organizations do not have a specified structure.

  • Formal organizations are build based upon the objective set for it. Organizational structure in such organization is hierarchical in nature, with people at each level having their own objectives.objectives.


Managing technology is an important job of any management. It is an important element of any unit. Selection of technology, procurement, installation, operation and maintenance is important and no compromise should be made in procuring latest or advanced technology.

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Contributing Disciplines to the Organizational Behavior field

Organizational behavior is an applied behavioral science built on contributions from a number of behavioral disciplines, mainly psychology and social psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

The major disciplines are:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Political Sciences
  • Economics
Contributing Disciplines to the Organizational Behavior field
Contributing Disciplines to the Organizational Behavior field

Organizational Behavior Importance

Importance of Organizational Behavior are:

  • OB provides a road map to our lives in organizations

    Every one of us has an inherent need to know about the world in which we live. This is particularly true in organizations, as they have a profound effect on our actions and behaviours.

  • OB uses scientific research to help us understand and predict organizational life

    This is not to say that this knowledge is absolute. The decisions and actions that people in organizations make are determined by a complex combination of factors. Besides, the field of OB is not a pure science.

  • OB helps us influence organizational events

    Though it is good to understand and predict organizational events, most of us want to influence the environment in which we live.

  • OB helps an individual understand himself/herself and others better

    This helps improve interpersonal relations considerably. Of particular significance are topics like attitude, perception, leadership, communication, and conflict, an understanding of which will change the very style of talking and functioning of an individual.

  • OB is useful for maintaining cordial industrial relations

    If an employee is slow in his or her work, or if his or her productivity is steadily declining, it is not always because of denial of promotion or a poor work environment. The relations between management and employees are often strained for reasons which are personnel issues, not technical.

  • It is a discipline which enables a manager to motivate his or her subordinates towards higher productivity and better results.

Read: What is Motivation?

Why study Organizational Behavior?

  1. Understand organizational events
  2. Predict organizational events
  3. Influencing organizational events
Why study organizational behaviour
Why study organizational behaviour

Understand organizational events

The main reason for studying organizational behaviour is that most of us work in organizations, so we need to understand, predict, and influence the behaviours of others in organizational settings.

But all of us need organizational behaviour knowledge to address people issues when we try to apply marketing, computer science, and other ideas.

Predict organizational events

Satisfying the need to understand and predict

Every one of us has an inherent need to know about the world in which we live. This is particularly true in organizations because of their profound effect on our lives.

Influencing organizational events

It’s nice to understand and predict organizational events, but most of us want to influence the environment in which we live. OB knowledge will help you to influence organizational events.

Challenges for Organizational Behavior

  • The Changing Social and Cultural Environment
  • The Evolving Global Environment
  • Advancing Information Technology
  • Shifting Workforce Diversity and Employment Relationships
  • Responding to Economic Pressures
  • Improving People Skills
  • Helping Employees Balance Work–Life Conflicts

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Models of Organisational Behaviour

OB Model proposes three types of variables (inputs, processes, and outcomes) at three levels of analysis (individual, group, and organizational).

The model proceeds from left to right, with inputs leading to processes and processes leading to outcomes. Notice that the model also shows that outcomes can influence inputs in the future.

Models of Organisational Behaviour
Models of Organisational Behaviour

Three types of variables of OD Model:

  1. Inputs
  2. Processes
  3. Outcomes


Inputs are the variables like personality, group structure, and organizational culture that lead to processes. These variables set the stage for what will occur in an organization later.


Processes are actions that individuals, groups, and organizations engage in as a result of inputs and that lead to certain outcomes.


Outcomes are the key variables that you want to explain or predict, and that are affected by some other variables.

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Organizational Behavior Management

Organizational behavior management (OBM) is a form of applied behavior analysis (ABA) which applies psychological principles of organizational behavior and the experimental analysis of behavior to organizations to improve individual and group performance and worker safety.

The areas of application may include systems analysis, management, training, and performance improvement. OBM resembles human resource management but places more emphasis on ABA and systems-level focus. (Wikipedia)


  1. Robbins, Stephen P. 2010. Organizational Behaviour. New Delhi: Prentice Hall.
  2. Davis, Keith. 2010. Organizational Behavior: Human Behavior at Work. New York: McGraw Hill.
  3. Binney George (1992) “Making Quality Work” Lessons from Europe’s Leading Companies.London: The Economist Intelligence Unit.
  4. Organizational Behavior by Cite.com.
  5. Sekaran Uma. “Organizational Behaviour” Text and Cases, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi.
  6. Fred Luthans, “Organizational Behaviour”, McGraw Hills, International Edition, 7th Edition, 1995.

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