Introduction to Organizational behavior

What is your understanding of the term behaviour?
In understanding organizational behavior, there is need to understand the term ‘behavior’ and ‘organization’. These terms will be defined later in this discussion but it is imperative to note that an organization is a consciously coordinated social unit composed of people working within a structure to attain certain defined objectives. Behavior can be referred to as what people do in the way they carry themselves and which can be observed.[1] O.B is a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structure have on behavior within an organization. It can be simply defined as the study of behavior of individuals within organizations.
Why should we study organizational behavior?
Managers need to understand better and more about human behavior than before to make organizations run effectively and efficiently. It focuses on improving productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover, and increasing employee job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Areas covered include motivation, group dynamics, leadership, organization structure, decision making, conflict resolution, and organizational developmen

The study of OB helps us to understand ourselves and others in a better way hence improving our inter-personal relations in organizations.
The knowledge of OB helps the managers know individual employees better and to motivate the employees to work for better results. It helps managers apply appropriate motivational techniques in accordance to the nature of individual employees who exhibit glaring differences in many respects.
Knowledge of organizational behavior can be used to help companies make the best use of capital especially in situations of diversity.[1]
Approaches to organizational Behavour
This refers to the philosophy or
What influences organizational Behaviour?
  1. Organizational culture
  2.  Organizational climate
  3.  Management style and philosophy
  4.  Organizational structure and process
O.B. and other disciplines of study
Organizational Behaviour can be said to be an interdisciplinary subject that borrows from other related fields of study such as psychology, economics, sociology, political science and anthropology among others.
Discussion question: how does OB relate to other disciplines of study?


Kurt Lewin observed that behaviour is a function of both a person and their environment. This means that the behaviour a person portrays can be explained by a study of the person or by looking at the environment or surrounding. This can be observed clearly by looking at how children grow up and get shaped by their environments in various ways. Look at the various

community groups in Kenya and how they behave differently depending on their surroundings. This can show you that the environment one stays in influences their behaviour in a way.
There are some components of organizational behaviour that can be used to understand behaviour of persons in an organization. They can be said to play an intertwined role to determine and influence how individuals behave in an organization. These include environment, organization, individuals, groups, managers/leaders and tasks.
There are two theories that can be used to explain behaviour.
a)      Cognitive theory- Holds that conscious mental activities like thinking, knowing, understanding, attitudes, and beliefs are the major determinants of behaviour. This observes the internal functioning of a person rather than the environment to explain behaviour[1]
b)      Reinforcement theory- holds that behaviour is initiated by stimuli. It therefore focuses on the environment as an influence on behaviour.
How can we explain the influence on behaviour by analyzing a person?
1.2.1 Cognitive theory:
Cognition refers to what occurs between stimuli and response. It focuses more on the importance of the individual; using aspects such as their personality or cognitive systems to explain behaviour. In this theory it is assumed that in humans, thoughts are the primary determinants of emotions and behavior. The mental process is compared to information processing in a computer. We will discuss some of the concepts related to cognitive processes. These include: perception, values, attitudes, personality and self-esteem.
To understand and alter behaviour, various tools can be examined at three levels: Individual, group and organizational. The cognitive theory can be said to analyze at the individual level.
It is the process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment

v  People’s behaviour is based on perceptions of reality. People perceive things in their environment differently and how a person perceives something influences how such a person behaves.
v  The perception process involves: reception, processing, influence, output and reaction.
v  Reception:  happens through sensory mechanisms such as sight hearing, smell etc.
v  Precessing– the information received is selected, organized and interpreted to give meaning to the perceiver. It resembles the process of computer processing whereby information is received through input devices and the commands are applied in sorting such data.
v  Influence- the interpretation process is affected by internal factors like self-concepts, personality or external factors such as size, contrast, motion etc.
v  Output- in the form of attitudes, opinions, feelings
v  Reaction: refers to the generated responses.
Factors affecting perception
v  Size of an object,
v  Intensity of the attribute to be perceived, high intensity makes it more noticeable
v  Contrast- if an object or an attribute is in sharp contrast compared to the others then it is likely to stand out.
v  Repetition
v  Motion
v  Needs and motives- an example is given of a person who is in need of something, there is a likelihood of such a person
v  Past experience, self-concept, personality (some types of personality- optimistic, secure, thoughtful etc.)
Refers to basic convictions that a specific mode of conduct or state of things is personally or socially preferable compared to its opposite.[1]It refers to a person’s ideas of what is good or desirable. It emanates from the person’s belief system which influences their sense of what is

desirable or socially acceptable. Eg. A Christian will prefer a certain mode of dressing and consider another one as not acceptable.
Values lay the foundation of understanding of attitudes and motivation, influence or perceptions.
Source of values:
Values can be taught consciously or learnt through observation and interactions with other people. Values can be observed from parents, teachers and other persons of influence in the society.
It is a fact that we become what we have seen being modeled in our society by our seniors. Modeling is the first step in developing competencies[1], even competencies in our values.
An attitude is a persistent tendency to feel and behave in a particular way towards some object. It is the negative or positive interpretation of an object. This means that if a person has a negative attitude towards an object, then they are interpreting such an object negatively.
What are the sources of attitudes?
v  Experience with an object- this means that if you have had an experience with a particular object, such experience can result in a negative or positive attitude.
v  Association- attitudes develop when we associate an object with other objects that we have certain preconceived ideas about.
v  Learning from others-attitudes can be acquired from others, involves a person acquiring another person’s attitude about an object.
What role do attitudes play in a person’s behaviour?
It places a great deal of importance on factors outside such as stimuli and outcome; rewards and punishment.
If behaviour response to a particular stimulus is rewarded then that response is liklely to be repeated.

E.g. For instance if an employee is rewarded for coming to work early then such an employee is likely to enhance that behaviour of coming early.
If a certain response to stimuli is punished, then it is less likely to be repeated. It involves observable stimuli and response.
Stimulus: refers to anything that happens to cause a change in the behaviour of an individual. Stimuli attract our sensory mechanisms such as the sense of smell, hearing, touch etc.
Response- refers to the change in a person’s behavior as a result of the stimuli
Reinforcement: that which increases the production of stimuli. Can be negative or positive.
·         Negative reinforcement: an unpleasant experience or pain
·         Positive reinforcement- a pleasant experience such as a reward meant to strengthen or encourage a similar outcome.
Extinction in reference to reinforcement refers to the weakening of association between a stimuli and a response. It happens when a response is not reinforced either negatively or positively.
Punishment- refers to the withholding of reward or application of unpleasant stimulus so as to extinguish undesirable response.
THINK: What is the effect of punishment?
Punishment can result in varied outcomes. Such outcomes include:
·         It can replace the former behaviour with another inappropriate behavour.
·         It can be effective in curbing the undesired tendencies
·         The punished person might be isolated as a result of the punishment.
How do we often reinforce behaviour?
It can be in many ways. They include making schedules of reinforcement to make sure that the desired behaviour is maintained or repeated as often as required and that the undesirable behaviour is not repeated.
Schedules of Reinforcement
It refers to a plan to ensure that an unpleasant behavior is not repeated or a pleasant behavior is repeated as desired. Such plans can take various forms which are described as schedules of reinforcement. They include the following:
·         Continuous reinforcement- this involves the continuous rewarding of behavior every time it occurs.
·         Fixed-interval- reinforcement in predetermined schedules. For instance, visits to work premises can be done during certain predetermined times and the effect of this is to have the employees being alert during those particular times.
·         Variable interval- the times for reinforcement of the particular behavior involved vary such that there is no one definite plan.
·         Fixed- ratio reinforcement- this involves the use of fixed number of desirable or undesirable behaviours that can be exhibited by the employee.
·         Variable-ration reinforcement- whereby there is no fixed number of times required for reinforcement to occur.


With the changing times, the nature of work is also changing. It is important to know the manner in which the nature of work is changing especially with reference to organizational behaviour.
Managers of this century are faced with increased challenges in effectively utilizing human resources and managing organizational behaviour.
There are new challenges from technological, social, cultural and global environments. Technology is advancing and new ways of doing things in organizations are coming up. Organizations have to keep in touch with such ongoing developments to ensure that thereorganizations remain relevant in offering products that meet the changing needs of consumers.
There is also a global competitive challenge facing organizations to invest in the skills of workers because better-trained workers make better use of technology.
Increased competition in the market place, there is pressure to increase quality of products offered.
Organizations have adopted new techniques of management such as T Q M which involves giving workers responsibility for finding ways to do their jobs more efficiently and also look for ways to improve quality.
Diversified workforce- organizations are expanding their operations across the borders. With the removal of trade barriers among the East African Countries, more companies are likely to expand their operations to take advantage of such opportunities. However, managing diverse workforce is likely to be a challenge to organizations. Issues of cultural differences are bound to arise, this is relevant to the study of organizational behaviour since employees and managers alike need to know how to develop beneficial organizational culture.
THINK…. What are some of the cultural differences that are bound to arise with cross border cultures in organizations? How can the management respond to such challenges?
Management functions such as planning, organizing, leading and control become more complex in a global environment. This involves the managers planning with other managers abroad.
On the aspect of organizing, which involves allocating of authority and responsibility, there is a change in that it is expanding to include cross border organizing aspects.