organizational behavior

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Weick's commentary (Weick, 1979) --
The phrase organizational behavior is troublesome because one is never certain whether it means

  • behavior that occurs in a specific place
  • behavior with reference to a certain place
  • behavior controlled by an organization
  • behavior that creates an organization
  • or yet something else

Because events inside an organization resemble events outside organizations; sensitivities of the worker inside are continuous with sensitivities of the worker outside. Since people have as much desire to integrate various portions of their lives as to compartmentalize them, what happens inside affects what happens outside, and vice versa (e.g., Salamon 1971).

The argument that organizational behavior is continuous with behavior in other settings can be made from a different perspective. There are several investigators who argue that action involves sequences of acts that unfold intact once they are triggered (e.g., Mandler 1964; Roby 1966). This assumption can be coupled with the further one that people notice stimuli that enable response sequences to be unfolded.

Specificity in defining organizational behavior --
(See behavior for a lead-in regarding response repertoires). If an observer gains an understanding of response repertoires, and the conditions under which attention is controlled by the content of these repertoires, then a more substantial theory about organizations and behaviors can be built. The theory would concentrate on attention as well as on action. It would essentially ask the question, ""How are the processes and contents of attention influenced by the conditions of task-based interdependency found in those settings we conventionally designate as organizations?"" Rendered in this form the question is complex, but it is also much more specific than the question, ""What is organizational behavior and what affects it?"" Defining organizational behavior in terms of processes of attention directs the investigator toward specific processes and properties within an organization that might ordinarily be overlooked. The investigator is sensitized to a specific set of events and behaviors in a way that is impossible given a more general definition of organizational behavior. (Weick, 1979, 32-33).

Organizational behavior incorporating both individual behavior and organizational properties --
Nord (1976) notes, first, that the term serves as a useful reminder that problems within organizations must be approached at both the psychological and sociological level. Attention to both individual behavior and formal organizational properties are essential in this field, and the attractiveness of the phrase organizational behavior is that it is composed of a word from each of the two foundation disciplines. Thus the term is a useful reminder that interdisciplinary approaches should be directed at any inquiry into organizations, and a further reminder that organizations need to be examined as sites for both collective and individual behavior.

Elements of organizational behavior --
Nord's second point is that behavior may have continuity, but some determinants are more important in organizational settings than in other ones. He notes that formal authority has more important consequences for behavior inside organizations than outside. Other possibilities that Nord might have cited in this line of argument are that power is more important in organizational settings, and physical attraction is less so. The term organizational behavior also directs attention to a place, a hierarchy, circumscribed hours, input, output, transformation processes, accountability, effort expenditure, controls, finance, and competition.

Individuals act; organizations are --
The reification of the concept of organization can be misleading. Organizations are often referred to as ""acting."" An organization acting actually refers to the conjunction of two statements, each one of which describes a double interact between two or more human beings, on of whom can even be imagined. Any assertion that an organization acts can be decomposed into some set of interacts among individuals such that if these people had not generated and meshed a specific set of their actions, and if these actions had not been generated by and meshed among any other people, the organization would not have performed the act attributed to it.

Organizaitonal behavior as patterns of behavior --
The important point made by the attribution of actions to organizations are that organizational activities are social rather than solitary, and that these activities are specified sufficiently that a variety of people can contribute the necessary components that allow the patterns to persist. The pattern can withstand a turnover of personnel as well as some variation in the actual behaviors people contribute. It is the persistence of the pattern through contributions made by interchangeable people, that distinguishes organizations from other collectivities such as mobs, families, or patient-therapist dyads where changes in ""personnel"" produce fundamental changes in the process and the outcome.

Organization forms outlast their originators (Weick and Gilfillan 1971) and are relatively impervious to personal redefinition (Berkowitz 1956). People move into and out of these forms; surprising constancy is maintained in the outcomes (Warwick 1975). The fact that forms transcend specific individuals means that it is reasonable to say that an organization acts, because it is the persisting form that coordinates actions of transient personnel and that produces the outcomes.

When we say that an organization acts we mean to emphasize that double interacts, not solitary acts, are the raw materials that are assembled into processes. We also mean to emphasize that it is the assemblage, the pattern of interacts, that determines the outcomes-not the personal qualities of single individuals.

When we assert that an organization acts, it will also be true that that shorthand phrase can be decomposed into a set of interlocked behaviors between two or more persons and a set of assembly rules by which those behaviors were assembled and sequenced to produce an outcome. The phrase organizational behavior does have the valuable effect of reminding researchers that in the final analysis, organizational theorizing comes down to predictions of behavior. While this particular book may not result in many of those predictions, it remains true that eventually all such formulations have to deal in one way or another with behavioral-dependent variables. Organizational behavior is a symbol around which diverse researchers can rally, and since those researchers are good company, I see no reason to destroy their pretext for gathering together.

Source of above: Weick, 1979, 32-35