Organizational behavior is a field of study which investigates the impact that individuals, groups and structures have on behavior within organizations for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving an organization’s effectiveness.

Organizational behaviour studies three determinants of behaviour in organizations.

  • Individuals
  • groups
  • structures and systems


OB is concerned with the study of what people do in an organization and how their  behaviour affects the performance of the organization.


The Nature of Organizational Behaviour

  1. Organizational Behaviour is Multidisciplinary
  2. O.B is Dynamic
  3. OB is built upon three levels of analysis referred to as the building blocks of OB
  4. OB is an applied behavioral science


The multidisciplinary nature of organizational behaviour

OB is an applied behavioral science built upon contributions from a number of behavioral disciplines which include: psychology, sociology, socio psychology anthropology and political science.



Psychology is the science that seeks to measure, explain and sometimes change the behavior of human beings.

Areas of psychology that have contributed to the areas of OB include; motivation, personality and learning.



Sociology is the study of social systems within which individuals fulfill their roles. It studies people in relation to their fellow human beings. Contributions to OB from sociology include; group behavior, culture, decision making and Organizational structures


 Social psychology

Blends concepts from both sociology and psychology. It focuses on influence of people on one another. Contributions to O.B include; decision making, communications, conflict management etc.



Is the study of societies in order to learn about their activities? Contributions to OB include; organizational culture.


 Political science

It studies the behavior of individuals and groups within a political environment. Areas if contribution to OB include; leadership, conflicts in organizations.


The Organizational Behavior Model

The O.B model Proposes three levels of analysis i.e.

  1. Individual level
  2. Group level
  3. Organization systems and structures level

The three levels are similar to building blocks each being constructed upon the previous one.


Individual level

People enter into organizations with characteristics that influence their behaviour at work. The more obvious of this characteristic are;

  • age
  • gender
  • marital status
  • skills and abilities
  • values and attitudes

These personality characteristics affect organizational behavior  in  ways that management may have little control over.


Group level

Organizations have two types of groups. Formal and informal

People’s behavior when they are in groups is different from their behavior when they are alone.

Individuals in groups are influenced by the patterns of behavior they are expected to exhibit by what the group considers to be acceptable standards of behavior and the degree to which members are attracted to each other.

Management should be interested in identifying opinion leaders of informal groups who influence behavior of other group members.


Organizational structures and system levels

Organizations are more than the sum total of their member groups. They will be affected by organizational factors outside their groups. The design of formal organization, the work processes, the jobs, communication patterns, H.R policies and the internal culture of the organization all have an impact on other variables that are important in OB.



Giving examples from specific local or global organizations, explain how the following  factors have changed the way organizations operate.

  1. Economic factors
  2. Political factors
  3. Social factors
  4. Technological factors




 Types of O.B variables

There are two variables in OB.

  1. Independent variables
  2. Dependent


Independent variables

Are those factors which are not affected by others?

They are determinants of behaviour in themselves by affecting dependent variables. They include;

  • individual level variables
  • group level variables
  • organization system and structures variables

They are also referred to as the building blocks of OB.


 Dependent variables/OB Outcomes

Are the factors which are affected by other factors in the organization? The primary dependent variables in OB are;

  1. productivity
  2. absenteeism
  3. staff turnover
  4. job satisfaction



An organization is productive if it achieves its goals at the lowest possible cost. Productivity as such concerns efficiency and effectiveness.

An organization is effective when it successfully meets the needs of its clients. It is efficient when it can do so at a low cost and within the shortest time possible. Business organizations are driven by the key objective of maximizing profits, for this reason O.B is greatly concerned with the factors that can affect productivity of organizations.


Popular measures of organizational productivity

  1. return on investment
  2. profits per volume sales
  3. output per labor hour

OB is concerned with knowing the factors, which influence productivity of individuals, groups and the overall organization.



Is the failure of an employee to report for work as scheduled regardless of reason. Absenteeism costs organizations a lot in terms of decreased efficiency, increased benefit payment e.g. Sick leave and payroll costs.

It is difficult for an organization to operate efficiently and attain its objectives if employees fail to report to their jobs.

Levels of absenteeism beyond the normal range should therefore be controlled.


Labour turnover

Turnover is voluntary or involuntary permanent withdrawal of staff from an organization. High turnover rate results in increased recruitment, selection and training cost. It can also disrupt efficient running of an organization when knowledgeable and experienced employees leave and replacements have to be found.


Job satisfaction

Is the most important dependent variable of ob because it affects all the other three variables? Provision of job satisfaction should therefore be a legitimate objective of an organization. Employers should take it as their responsibility to provide employees with jobs that are challenging and intrinsically rewarding. Lack of job satisfaction is related to absenteeism and turnover and for this reason job; satisfaction is a very important dependent variable in OB.

Exercise: Explore the influence of the following personality characteristics on organizational outcome


Marital status

Skills and ability




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