Organisational Behaviour

This Chapter examines organisational behaviour, considering what people do in an organisation and how their behaviour affects the performance of the organisation. The debates presented can be viewed from three perspectives - that of the individual, the team and the organisation, all of which can be shaped by personality, communication and the nature of power within an organisation.

The nature and impact of personality is explored, seeking to understand how a

person’s habits and usual styles, compounded by their ability to play roles, shape their behaviours. The nomothetic approach (viewing personality as a quantifiable science) is outlined, along with ideographic approaches (taking a more tacit, interpretative view). This set the context for a discussion of the importance of Jung’s personality types and how personality analysis can be used to consider the potential effectiveness of individuals within the workplace.

The potential utility of psychometric testing tools are outlined, exploring how they may be applied to consider cognitive strengths, undertake personality assessments and review psychometric capabilities. However, the importance of recognising that personality is only one factor shaping individual potential and performance is stressed, arguing that these tools should be supported by other evaluation approaches e.g. interviews and role-specific competency tests.

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The Chapter discusses communication, noting how it is multi-faceted in nature and includes both formal and informal approaches. The way in which power relationships can interfere with communication is stressed, along with issues such as technology, emphasising how more efficient tools and practices do not necessarily improve the effectiveness of corporate communications. This discourse supports an outline consideration of decision-making practices and abilities, addressing how heuristics (the simple and efficient rules which people use to make decisions) also shape organisational behaviours.

A review of power and organisational politics is presented, which recognises that in order to understand power there is a need to identify why some individuals have power and how power within the organisation may very well be a reflection of the organisation itself. Power is essentially the capacity of an individual or group to modify the conduct of other individuals or groups in a manner which they desire and without having to modify their own conduct. Established misconceptions around organisational power (that it is accurately reflected within the corporate structure/hierarchy and that it flows downwards) are also challenged.

The way in which power is vested in relationships and the way in which society normalises power and influence is also reviewed in the Chapter. How power and its relationship with both explicit and implicit authority shapes both the workplace and wider society is examined. The context and findings of the Stanford Prison Experiment is used to highlight how power and authority roles can be established and embedded within an organisational structure. This study highlights a willingness to accept authority in a structured setting even if it results in actions and behaviours that conflict with the ethics and moral reasoning of those concerned. The key findings demonstrate how organisational power can lead to destructive behaviours that can undermine corporate effectiveness.


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