Why Study Organizational Behavior?

Defining Organizational Behavior

Organizational behavior (OB) is the study of individual and group behavior in organizational settings. OB looks at organizations as entities, the forces that shape them, and their impact on organizational members. The study of OB involves three levels of study: (1) The Individual; (2) The Group (or Team); and (3) The Organization.

OB examines attitudes, social climate, and performance within an organization by examining both individual and group behavior on a regional, national, or global level. Researchers examine why people (individually or in groups) behave the way they do and how to manage these behaviors so that the organization can achieve optimal performance.

Researchers in organizational behavior study age-old questions such as: What are the characteristics of a good leader? And, how can a manager motivate workers? Increasingly, questions that have social and moral relevance, such as what makes an organization "ethical" in both action and reputation, are also being addressed.

The Importance of Studying Organizational Behavior

In our competitive, complex, and constantly changing world, organizations must be both efficient and effective in what they do. To do this, organizations must have competent employees that know how to work together to reach organizational goals. As a result, it is important to understand how to build and maintain a competent and cooperative work force.

For example, think about the organizations that you've dealt with either as a customer or as an employee. It's likely that your experiences have not always been pleasant and trouble-free. Perhaps you've been kept waiting for service, spent hours trying to get relatively straightforward information, or worked for a boss who gave you no direction and then criticized your work. On the other hand, you have also most likely been exposed to organizations that consistently maintained high standards of excellence. Organizational behavior addresses the differences in these organizations, such as why some organizations are more effective than others, and why some supervisors make excellent managers.

By studying organizational behavior, both employees and managers come to understand what makes people behave the way they do. Employees can use this knowledge to increase their own job satisfaction and improve work performance. Managers can use organizational behavior to accomplish goals and help employees achieve optimal performance. More importantly, learning about organizational behavior will help you to understand your own behaviors, attitudes, ethical views, and performance, as well as those of the people with whom you'll be working. This type of knowledge will assist you in working effectively with managers, colleagues, and subordinates.