Organizational Behaviour

  • R. Payne
Part of the Psychology for Professional Groups book series


Organizational behaviour is concerned with refining our knowledge about the behaviour of individuals and groups in organizations and their role in the growth, development and decline of organizations. These various outcomes are also determined by the financial, political and technical environment in which the organization functions, so researchers also study these organization-environment relations and their consequent impact on the behaviour of individuals and groups. It is a multi-disciplinary enterprise involving economics, politics, engineering, management science, systems theory, industrial relations, sociology and psychology. Given this complexity the student will not be surprised to discover that our ability to predict accurately what will happen to individuals, groups and organizations is very limited. In searching to achieve this ‘scientist’s stone’, however, a variety of frameworks, conceptual schemes and even a few facts have emerged which can facilitate our ability to perceive, interpret and organize this social complexity. This chapter concentrates on presenting some of these frameworks.


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Annotated reading

  1. Mintzberg’s ideas are only available in his recent book (1979) The Structuring of Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. This is a detailed review and synthesis of a mass of literature on organizations. The first chapter describes the five co-ordinating mechanisms and the last describes the five types of structures and the pentagon model.Google Scholar
  2. Child, J. (1977) Organization: A guide to problems and practice (paperback). New York: Harper & Row. A readable and informed account of the meaning of organizational structure. It discusses the choices managers have when faced with designing an organization around the issues of shaping the jobs/roles people do, having tall or flat chains of command, grouping activities by function, product or some mixture, mechanisms for integrating the divisions so created, and how to control the humans working in the system. Child also discusses how to change organizations and the future forms they may need/choose to adopt.Google Scholar
  3. Handy, C. (1976) Understanding Organizations. Harmondsworth: Penguin. This is an extremely well-written and lively book, rich with pertinent examples. The first part introduces basic concepts for understanding organizations: motivation, roles, leadership, power and influence, group processes, structure and politics. The second part applies the concepts to problems such as how to design organizations, how to develop and change them and the working of the various aspects of organizations as systems (budgets, communications, computers, bargaining). The last chapter describes what it is like to be a manager and the dilemmas they face. The book has a very useful third section which is a guide to further study for each of the 12 chapters.Google Scholar
  4. Warr, P.B. (ed.) (1978) Psychology at Work (2nd edn). Harmondsworth: Penguin. This book contains 16 chapters, each written by different authors. It is moderately technical in places, but much of it is quite understandable to the non-psychologist. The chapters cover the following topics: hours of work and the 24-hour cycle, workload and skilled performance, training, the design of machines and systems that optimize human performance, accidents, computers and decision making, selection, interviewing, negotiation and collective bargaining, leadership, attitudes and motives, job redesign and employee participation, work stress, counselling in work settings, how to change organizations and organizational systems as psychological environments. Some journals which cover these subjects but which aim their content at practitioners and which are widely available in UK are: Harvard Business Review, Personnel Review, Personnel Management, Management Today.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The British Psychological Society 1981

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  • R. Payne

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