Click on the links below to access summaries for each chapter of the book.
Part 1: Work and organizational behaviour
- Chapter 1: Capitalism and organizational behaviour
- Chapter 2: The social nature of work
- Chapter 3: Studying work and organizations
- Chapter 4: Personality and identity
- Chapter 5: Perception and emotion
- Chapter 6: Learning and innovation
- Chapter 7: Motivation at work
- Chapter 8: Gender, race, disability and class
- Chapter 9: Work groups and teams
- Chapter 10: Organizational design
- Chapter 11: Technology in work organizations
- Chapter 12: Organizational culture
- Chapter 13: Leadership and change
- Chapter 14: Communications
- Chapter 15: Decision making and ethics
- Chapter 16: Power, politics and conflict
- Chapter 17: Human resource management
Chapter 1: Capitalism and Organizational Behaviour
- In this introductory chapter, we have attempted to cover a wide range of complex issues. We have emphasized that external contexts have a significant impact on the way in which individuals and groups work and behave. The external context influences the structure and behaviour of work organizations and, in turn, organizations influence the wider society. The linkage between the external contexts and the search for competitive advantage through employee behaviour is complex. Globalization means that there is a need for a multidimensional approach to the study of behaviour in organizations.
- We have reviewed orthodox treatments of management – as a set of technical competencies, functionally necessary tasks, and universal roles and processes found in any work organization. (41,43,80–82) For the traditionalist, managerial work is regarded as rational, morally and politically neutral, and its history and legitimacy are taken for granted. Alternative accounts of management emphasize that managerial work is embedded in a politically charged arena of structured and contested power relationships.
- To help us deconstruct the many facets of organizational complexity, we have used a three-dimensional management model. This encourages us to go beyond simply describing managerial behaviour, to provide an understanding of the contingencies that explain why managerial policies and behaviour vary in time and space. Managers’ behaviour does not follow the famous Fayolian management cycle. They are typically engaged in an assortment of frenetic, habitual, reactive, fragmented activities.
- Organizational behaviour is a complex field of study with no agreed boundaries, and draws from a variety of disciplines including industrial psychology, sociology, anthropology and political science. We have defined it as a multidisciplinary field of inquiry, concerned with the systematic study of formal organizations, the behaviour of people within organizations, and important features of their social context that structure all the activities that occur inside the organization. To draw on the work of American sociologist C. Wright Mills, an ‘organizational behaviour imagination’ allows us to grasp the interplay of people in organizations and the larger economic, political and social context that structures the behaviour.
- Studying organizational behaviour can help put people in a stronger position to influence and shape the workplace and their own future. Organizational behaviour is very much an applied social science, which provides a conceptual ‘toolbox’ to help people predict, explain and influence organizational actions. We also focused on diversity because we consider the social dynamics of class, gender, race and ethnicity to underpin contemporary organizational behaviour. Understanding the significance of class, gender, race and ethnicity, and disability puts the behaviour of individuals and groups in the organization into a wider social context.
- We identified four major theoretical frameworks or paradigms used by organizational behaviour theorists for the study of behaviour in organizations: the structural-functionalist perspective, the symbolic-interactionist perspective, the conflict perspective and the feminist perspective. The managerialist or structural-functionalist perspective represents ‘mainstream’ organizational behaviour analysis. It assumes that work behaviour takes place in rationally designed organizations, and is inseparable from the notion of efficiency. The symbolic-interactionist perspective focuses on the microanalysis of small workgroups, and interpersonal interaction in the organization. The critical and feminist perspectives set out to discover the ways in which power, control, gender and legitimacy affect relations between managers, and between managers and non-managers.
- Finally, we discussed two ontological orientations – objectivism and constructionism – and two epistemological orientations – positivism and interpretivism – and outlined how these influence decisions on research methodology. Depending on the researcher’s perspective, which reflects a whole series of assumptions about the nature of the social world, organizational behaviour researchers will tend to lean towards either quantitative or qualitative research strategies.
Chapter 2: The social nature of work
- One of the major themes running through the study of paid work has been the continuities as well as the discontinuities across time. There is no doubt that changes occur all the time, but these must be adequately contextualized if we are to appreciate their relevance. Thus, we can only really talk about a rise in instrumental orientations to work if we know what previously existed.
- Trying to summarise the experience of work over several millennia is a difficult task. There is so much material to cover that no text of conventional size would be able to deal adequately with the complexities. However, this chapter has been written on the assumption that some knowledge is preferable to complete ignorance, especially if, to understand the present, we have to situate it against the past. The chapter has tended to highlight gender issues in the workplace to balance out the conventional preference for male history.
- The complexity of the experience of work defies any simple assumptions about the significance of work. However, we can perhaps salvage from the past a conclusion that illuminates the significance of the social. Work, like other institutions, is inherently and irreducibly constructed, interpreted and organized through social actions and social discourse.
- We explained how, with the growth of routinized service work, new kinds of social relations and aspects of the self have developed and come under scrutiny. As the service workforce has grown in importance, we noted the growing interest in ‘emotional work’, pioneered by Arlie Hochschild.
- The persistence of gender ideologies on work, discrimination and the sexual division of paid work have been discussed, as has the persistent belief in the ‘traditional’ male breadwinner/ female home-keeper model, particularly in periods of economic recession.
- We have explored the concept of work–life balance and why this orthodox binary view is based on traditional large-scale work and life patterns separated by time and space. As such, paid work is regarded as an activity that is an encroachment on people’s private life. A more complex approach is represented by the notion of work–life patterns, which sees the activity of labour itself as an important source of identity and satisfaction.
Chapter 3: Studying work and organizations
- The three founders of the sociology of work all continue to have their contemporary adherents and detractors.
- Marx’s fascination with class, conflict and the labour process formed the basis for the most popular new approach throughout much of industrial sociology, from the late 1960s to the 1980s. It spawned a complete school of thought in the labour process tradition, but its limitations became more evident as the approach attempted to explain all manner of social phenomena directly through the prism of class.
- Durkheim’s moral concerns continue to pervade the market economy, and make predictions about human actions that are based on amoral, economically rational behaviour less than convincing. Perhaps where Durkheim has been most vigorously criticized has been in relation to the allegedly cohering effects of an extended division of labour. The mainstream of managerial theories does not support Durkheim on this point: dependency does not generate mutual solidarity.
- Weber’s theories of rationalization and bureaucracy have never been far from the minds of those analysing the trend towards larger and larger organizations, and the recent movement towards more flexible work organization patterns. Again, however, Weber’s over-rationalized approach underestimated the significance of destabilizing and sectional forces within work organizations.
- This chapter has reviewed 12 theoretical approaches or conversations on organizational studies: the technical, human relations, neo-human relations, systems thinking, contingency, cultures, learning, control, feminist, social action, political and postmodernist approaches. It has adopted a particular form of differentiating between the various theories through an organizational grid based on two axes: managerial–critical and determinist–interpretative. This is a heuristic way of structuring the various possibilities.
Chapter 4: Personality and identity
- Personality is the distinctive and relatively enduring pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that characterizes a person’s response to her or his environment. In this chapter, we have examined a number of different approaches to personality. Each of these theories offers a view of how personality forms.
- Trait theorists try to identify and measure personality variables. They disagree concerning the number of traits needed to adequately describe personality. Raymond Cattell suggested a 16-factor model to capture personality dimensions, Eysenck offered a two-factor model, and McCrae and Costa suggested the Big Five factor model. Traits have not proved to be highly consistent across situations, and they also vary in consistency over time.
- We went on to examine Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, which views personality as an energy system. He divided the personality into three structures: the id, the ego and the superego. According to Freud, the dynamics of personality involve a continuous struggle between the impulses of the id and the counterforces of the ego and superego.
- Socio-cultural theorists emphasize the social context, the subjective experiences of the individual, and deal with perceptual and cognitive processes. We examined the theory of Albert Bandura, a leading social-cognitive theorist, who suggests that neither personal traits nor the social context alone determines personality. A key concept is reciprocal determinism, relating to two-way causal relations between personal characteristics, behaviour and the environment.
- Phenomenological theories, also known as humanistic theories, of personality were also examined. Influential humanist theorists such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers emphasize the positive, fulfilling experiences of life, and argue that the way in which people perceive and interpret their social experiences forms their personality. Self-actualization is viewed as an innate positive force that leads people to realize their positive potential, if they are not thwarted by their social context.
- In addition, the chapter examined Mead’s theory of personality and his key concept of the self. He argues that people develop a personality by internalizing – or taking in – their immediate environment. He rejected the notion that the self is inherited and that personality is the product of biological inner impulses or drives, as argued by Sigmund Freud. According to Mead, the self develops only with social activity and social relationships.
- The chapter has examined the role that an individual’s identity (or identities) plays in determining behaviour in the workplace. Whereas personality is based on a cluster of traits, some of which are believed to be genetic and evident from birth, identity is perceived as socially constructed: it is developed by, and also develops, the institutions and processes of modernity. Identity is fluid and multiple, and emerges through our relationships with others.
- Managers use a variety of instruments and techniques to assess personality. These include the interview, inventories, behaviour assessment, personality tests and e-assessment. We noted also that, to be useful to the organization, personality assessment instruments must conform to standards of reliability and validity.
Chapter 5: Perception and emotion
- Perception is important in organizational behaviour because the fundamental nature of perceptual processes means that individuals usually interpret other people and situations differently and so routinely hold different views of reality, which in turn strongly influence their attitudes and actions. This means that avoiding conflict and ensuring that important workplace decisions are based on sound judgements is not a matter of training people how to see things as they ‘really are’, because multiple realities always exist. More can be gained from understanding how perception works, and shaping organizational activity so that the possibilities for negative outcomes (both emotional and behavioural) are minimized.
- ‘Perception’ refers to the process by which our senses gather information from the environment and our brains make sense of that information. The perception process is characterized as inherently selective, subjective and largely automatic rather than conscious. It can be broken down into three steps or elements – receiving, organizing and interpreting – representing the path by which we mentally transform sensory stimuli from the environment into meaningful information.
- The three elements of the perception process do not occur separately or in sequence, but overlap and sometimes occur in parallel. When perception proceeds from the sensory data received from the environment, it is called ‘bottom-up’ information processing. In contrast, when perception begins with existing knowledge that is used to interpret the incoming data, it is called ‘top-down’ processing. Whereas bottom-up processing requires a lot of mental effort, top-down processing carries the risk of assumptions and jumping to the wrong conclusions, so some balance is required between in the use of these two perception strategies.
- The processing limitations of our brains mean it is only because we employ selective attention that it is possible for us to experience the mass of sensory stimuli in the environment as orderly and meaningful. Our choice of what to attend to is driven by the environmental cues that are most salient, or by our own motivations, expectations, emotions and goals. This selectivity is highly resource efficient, but the downside is that we can miss crucial bits of information and form misleading perceptions of what we are experiencing. If we then act on those perceptions, we may suffer serious consequences.
- Existing knowledge has a powerful effect on how we perceive new experiences. We store knowledge in the form of mental models, or schemata: packages of related content (for instance, thoughts, emotions and attitudes) about people, situations and roles. Schemata do develop over time, but do not change much once formed because they act as lenses by which we view new information. New data that are inconsistent with what we ‘know’ are simply reinterpreted to fit. In perception, when one bit of information related to a schema is brought to mind, everything else in the package comes to mind also, so we can very quickly make sense of something on the basis of a small bit of information. But these stable, automatic linkages between thoughts can be unhelpful, as in the case of stereotypes. Although we can choose not to act upon stereotypes, it may not be possible to stop them coming to mind in the first place.
- Two specific classes of perception were identified that hold particular significance for organizations. The causes that people perceive (or attribute) for particular outcomes will significantly affect their future expectations and behaviour. If a person sees a failure to meet a goal as the result of stable, internal causes – such as intelligence – she or he is less likely to try again than if the cause of the failure is perceived to be more about his or her circumstances at the time. This knowledge is important for understanding individual performance and motivation. The second class of perception – employees’ views of justice and fairness in the workplace – is significant because these impact on the employment relationship. If employees perceive that they are being treated unfairly by the organization, it will negatively influence their work attitudes and motivation. The difficulty is that employees and employers are very likely to perceive things differently by virtue of their respective roles and experiences, so it is a particular challenge for organizations to ensure that employees feel fairly treated.
Chapter 6: Learning and innovation
- There has been a growing interest in learning in organizations, as contemporary management thinking and practice emphasize notions of knowledge work, flexibility, core competencies and sustainable competitive advantage through learning.
- Learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behaviour or human capabilities resulting from processing new knowledge, practice or experience. In organizations, the quality of this learning experience may depend on how the organization is structured, how work is designed, how individuals engage, interact and construct knowledge from these paid work situations, and how managers lead their subordinates. Learning in organizations can take any one of the following four forms: formal, non-formal, informal and incidental.
- We examined classical approaches to learning that focused on how internal mental events such as learning might be measured and studied through Pavlovian conditioning, and the importance of reinforcement in the learning process.
- The cognitive approach to learning was also examined. The Gestalt theorists, as they were known, proposed that human consciousness could not be investigated adequately by unscrambling its component parts, but only by investigating its overall shape or pattern. Proponents of this school of thought believe that cognitive processes – how individuals perceive, evaluate feedback, represent, store and use information – play an important role in learning.
- The third classical approach we examined related to social-learning theories. This suggests that individuals learn and develop through observational learning. That is, people learn by observing others – role models – whom they believe are credible and knowledgeable.
- We examined some contemporary approaches to learning – activity theory and community of practice – and explained that social-learning theory underpins the concept of a community of practice, which has been the subject of some debate in the adult learning literature. For example, an extreme position is that there is little need for formal classroom-based learning because effective learning occurs only through the engagement of community membership.
- We also discussed how psychologically driven learning theories began to give way to learning theories that articulated the unique characteristics of adult learning, and examined four perspectives that attempt to understand adult learning in general and adult learning in work: the andragogy, self-directed, transformational and socio-cultural approaches.
- We defined creativity as the development of ideas about services, products or processes that can potentially increase individual and organizational performance. And innovation is the creation of any new service, product or process that is new to an organization.
- Finally, we examined Kolb’s well-known learning cycle model and discussed the awareness that a learning environment provides fertile conditions for developing and validating unconventional ideas and behaviours, in other words, for fostering innovation.
Chapter 7: Motivation at work
- This chapter has emphasized the centrality of motivation in the employment relationship. Motivation is the driving force within individuals that affects the direction, intensity and persistence of their work behaviour in the interest of achieving organizational goals.
- We discussed Maslow’s famous needs hierarchy. It assumes that when a person’s need is not satisfied, that person experiences internal tension or states of deficiency, and this motivates the person to change behaviour to satisfy that need.(79) All the need theories tend to be heavily prescriptive in nature.
- We explained how process theories of work motivation place emphasis on the actual psychological process of motivation. According to the equity theory, perceptions of equity or inequity lead employees to form judgements on the value (or valence) of a reward or outcome. When an employee perceives a reward item to be inequitable, the individual will be dissatisfied, which will result in the individual not finding the outcome attractive; thus, reward will not be an effective motivator.
- Expectancy theory is based on the idea that motivation results from deliberate choices to engage in certain behaviours in order to achieve worthwhile outcomes. Its most important elements are the perception that effort will result in a particular level of performance (E?P), the perception that a specific behaviour will lead to specific outcomes (P?O), and the perceived value of those outcomes, the valences. The attractiveness of work activities (their valence) depends on an employee’s individual differences, cultural factors and orientation to work.
- This chapter also suggested that if we are to understand what motivates people, we must go beyond psychological notions of individual needs and cognitive processes. We need to incorporate into any analysis the psychological climate, the culture, the dynamics of employment relations, orientation to work, and the effects of complex interconnecting levels of domination, which stem from the class and gender relations in society.
Chapter 8: Gender, race, disability and class
- We began this chapter with the claim that understanding issues of equity across the major social divisions of society is vital for a full understanding of organizational behaviour. We explored the general and specific tensions in organizations that make the issues of equity, inequity and justice a relevant topic for learning and research. Vertical and horizontal conflicts were shown to help us understand the complex forms of power that play out across organizations.
- Some suggest that the institution of work, including practices in work organizations, divisions in pay, and related issues such as access to training and employment, has become fundamentally more equitable over the years. We argue that this is only partially correct. There is still much to be done.
- Women, people from ethno-racial minorities, those who are disabled, and members of the working class (and all the combinations of these categories) continue to face major difficulties in gaining just and equitable treatment in relation to paid work. Students and scholars of organizational behaviour will benefit from a broader appreciation of these dynamics to inform the direction of future learning and research. Taken together, the vast majority of people in our society are subject to some form of discrimination. This begs the question of why, if the vast majority of people experience systematic inequities in relation to work, it is so difficult to realize significant, positive change. Some of the answers to this question lie within the realm of existing organizational behaviour research, but many others have not yet been addressed. To address these questions of equity, it is necessary to take a fundamental look at how work and society are organized. Through some of the interdisciplinary dimensions of this chapter, we hope readers will start on that journey of further exploration.
Chapter 9: Work groups and teams
- In this chapter, we have examined the background, nature and behavioural implications of work groups. We have suggested that the current wave of interest in work teams, often located within a cluster of other employment practices constituting what is called a ‘high-performance workplace’, is linked to lean forms of work organizations and the perceived shortcomings of large bureaucratic organizational structures.
- The chapter has emphasized that understanding group processes, such as groupthink, group leadership, informal group learning and intragroup conflict, is imperative for the successful management of the HPW system.
- Management tries to persuade workers of the need to work beyond their contract for the ‘common’ good and to engage in self-regulatory norms. The SMWT is said to be upskilling and empowering workers.
- However, we have also gone beyond management rhetoric, and presented arguments and evidence to suggest that self-managed teams shift the focus away from the hierarchy, directive and bureaucratic control processes, to a culture of self-control mechanisms.
- The discussion has emphasized that orthodox and critical accounts of team working provide very different views of this form of work organization and employment relations. Both perspectives, however, conceptualize team working as influencing individual behaviour and contributing to improved organizational performance. While both approaches make employee autonomy central to their analyses, each conceptualizes team membership as having a different influence. Additionally, autonomy is theorized as leading to different outcomes (such as growth need versus self-regulation) in each perspective.
Chapter 10: Organizational design
- We have attempted to cover a wide range of complex issues in this chapter. Organizational structure refers to the formal division of work or labour, and the formal pattern of relationships that coordinate and control organizational activities, whereas organizational design refers to the process of creating a structure that best fits a strategy, technology and environment.
- The three core dimensions of formal organizational structure – complexity, formalization and centralization – can be combined into different types or models. Three descriptive models were examined: mechanistic, bureaucratic and organic. The mechanistic organization has been likened to a machine. It is characterized by highly specialized tasks that tend to be rigidly defined, a hierarchical authority and control structure, and communications that primarily take the form of edicts and decisions issued by managers to subordinates. Communication typically flows vertically from the top down. Thus, it has high complexity, high formalization and high centralization. A mechanistic organization resembles a bureaucracy. A bureaucratic organization is a rational and systematic division of work. Within it, rules and techniques of control are precisely defined. A bureaucratic design allows for large-scale accomplishments. The disadvantages associated with bureaucracy include suppression of initiative through overcontrol.
- Organic organizations are the antithesis of mechanistic organizations. They are characterized by being low in complexity, formality and centralization. A post-bureaucratic organizational structure, such as team-based structures and those produced by BPR, is organic and highly adaptable. However, the binary bureaucratic/post-bureaucratic view of organizational design may be a somewhat misleading analytical device.
- The contingency view of formal organizational design focuses on strategy, size, technology and environment. A change in business strategy may require changing the manufacturing process and the organizational design, for example moving from a functional to a team-based organizational structure. Large organizations will tend to be more centralized and have more rules and techniques of control. Organizations with complex non-routine technologies will tend to have more complex organizational arrangements. Organizations with routine technologies will tend to use written rules and procedures to control people’s behaviour, and decision making will be more centralized than in establishments using non-routine technologies.
- An organization’s external environment can range from ‘stable’ to’ dynamic’ and from ‘hostile’ to ‘munificent’. Distinct external environments help to explain divergent patterns of managerial behaviour and organizational structure. For example, organic configurations are better suited to dynamic and hostile environments so that organizational members can adapt more quickly to changes.
- The external context has a significant impact on managerial and employee behaviour. The external domain influences the formal structure and functioning of a work organization, and in turn the organization’s leaders influence the wider society. The linkage between external contexts and the search for competitive advantage through employee performance and managerial activities is complex. We have therefore emphasized that organizational behaviour studies must be able to deal with the new complexities and nuances. Caught up in the drama of severe economic recession, there is a need for a multidimensional approach to the study of organizational behaviour.
- The analysis offered here provides a guide to how formal organizational structure helps to shape the behaviour of managers and employees. The contingency elements identified – strategy, size, technology, environment, culture and HRM systems – are not separate, but are integrated and linked in complex ways. It is within this integrated framework that interpretations of competing resources, conversations and interests take place, and influence people’s behaviour in many ways.
Chapter 11: Technology in work organizations
- Comparative international analyses of concepts and theoretical debates, as well as policies and programmes, provide an important basis for understanding how technology is related to work and organizational behaviour. We propose a broad, multilevel approach suggesting that technology should be thought of as a social phenomenon, recognizing both consent and conflict in processes of adoption. In reviewing these areas, we are aided by a general understanding of the ideologies of technological thought, which we summarised early on. How do specific technologies and attempts at technological adoption relate to the technocratic, substantive, constructivist or critical approaches? For example, how do the substantive critiques of Heidegger or Ellul colour the messages offered by the likes of Negroponte, Castells and Reich? (3,5,97) And what can the constructivist approach of Suchman, Latour or Callon add to the deskilling/enskilling debates surrounding ICT, work and organizational behaviour, and so on?
- After reading this chapter, a variety of answers to these and other questions should begin to emerge, but perhaps more importantly you should be in a better position to understand, evaluate and perhaps even affect the current landscape and direction of ICT, work and related issues. These are all important matters in our society today.
Chapter 12: Organizational culture
- In this chapter, we have explored the nature of organizational culture – a unique configuration of shared artefacts, common language and meanings and values that influence ways of doing things in the workplace. The culture of an organization influences what employees should think, believe or value in this social discourse.
- The belief that organizational culture can be produced and managed has become closely associated with organizational redesign and management theories around HRM, the management of emotional labour and transformation leadership.
- Three fundamental levels of organizational culture comprise visible artefacts (buildings, technology, language and norms), underpinned by values, which are invisible, and basic assumptions, which are also invisible, unconscious and resistant to change.
- We explained that culture analysis can be divided into two schools of thought: managerialist and critical. The managerialist perspective is functionalist in that it stresses that culture can play a role in building consensus and harmony, and how culture can improve performance. It views organizational culture as a variable: it is something that an organization ‘has’ and, as such, can be produced and managed.
- The prescriptive literature tends to present too uniform a view of organizational culture. Alternative approaches point out the existence of subcultures and counter-culture. These concepts are important if we believe that organizations consist of individuals and work groups with multiple sets of values and beliefs.
- The critical perspective focuses on a sociological concern to describe and critically explain cultural processes, how culture emerges through social interaction, power relations, social inequalities, influencing communities of practice, emotion and norms of individual and group behaviour. Viewed through a sociologist’s lens, culture is something that a work organization ‘is’.
- The critical literature emphasizes the symbolic and subjective aspects of the workplace, the role of culture in strengthening management control, and the relationships between social inequalities and patriarchal systems outside, and work socialization and behaviour inside, the workplace.
- We have discussed how national culture and organizational culture are deeply intertwined, each influencing the other and with latter embedded in society. Gender refers to culturally specific patterns of human behaviour and is culturally learned or determined. Unarguably therefore, gender is a central facet of organizational analysis. Yet standard accounts of organizational culture have tended to neglect how gender, patriarchy and sexuality in society and in workplaces influence the dynamics of organizational culture.
- This chapter described a model for culture change. We emphasized that managers must be aware of the complexities of cultures. Finally, we discussed the problem of a strong corporate culture undermining decision making because it may encourage conformity or groupthink.
Chapter 13: Leadership and change
- Leadership is a dialectical process in which an individual persuades others to do something they would not otherwise do. It is a result of the interaction between the leader and followers in a specific context, and is equated with power.
- Leadership is not the same as management. Management is associated with functions such as planning, organizing, controlling and efficiency, whereas leadership is associated with vision making and significant change. Management processes produce a degree of order and consistency in work behaviour. Leadership processes produce significant change or movement.
- We observed that leadership theories are typically classified according to the types of variable emphasized in a theory or empirical study. We reviewed the major perspectives of leadership, including the trait, behaviour, contingency, transformational, shared and competency approaches. We showed how the systematic research on leadership has evolved from a narrow focus on the leader’s traits to a multidimensional model of leadership, which looks at the exercise of leadership as a complex reciprocal process affected by the interaction between the leader, the followers and the opportunities and constraints afforded by the external and internal contexts in which they find themselves.
- We have drawn attention to issues of power and gender, as well as the limitations of individualistically oriented charismatic and transformative leadership models.
- In the context of twenty-first century corporate greed, irresponsibility, scandals and a single-minded focus on shareholder value, there is the danger that once people overalign themselves with a company, and invest excessive faith in the wisdom of its leaders, they are liable to lose their original sense of identity, tolerate ethical lapses they would have previously deplored, find a new and possibly corrosive value system taking root, and leave themselves vulnerable to manipulation by the leaders of the organization, to whom they have mistakenly entrusted many of their vital interests.(75)
Chapter 14: Communications
- We have explained that the nature of the communication process established in the organization reflects the management style, degree of employee participation, culture and efficiency of the workplace. A knowledge of theories clarifies our understanding of organizational communications and enables us to explain a variety of practical issues, such as where the idea of the organization originated and what motivates people to work.
- It is important not to give one theory prominence over another. The three major perspectives for understanding organizational communications – functionalist, interpretivist and critical – allow us to comprehend the central role that communications has in the management process. The metaphors used to describe the perspectives – for example, machine, organism and psychic prison – enhance our ability to view communications as being not just about the transmission and exchange of information in the context of organizational efficiency, but rather as being central to the other processes of power, leadership and decision making.
- We have emphasized that individuals engage with their world through specific codes and practices (verbal, non-verbal and written language). Language creates the organizational concepts that define the culture of an organization and give form to notions of control, delegation and rationality. Meetings are an example of the management of meaning. The choice of media, interaction and personal dynamics is part of the creation of texts within an organization, which in turn contributes to the establishment of its culture.
- We went on to explain how an understanding of the cultural and organizational dynamics of cross-cultural communications will enhance organizational effectiveness and business performance. E. T. Hall provides a useful system for understanding the communication implications of culture, both verbal and non-verbal.
- Research has revealed differences between the conversational styles of men and women. As managers, women try to develop rapport with colleagues, whereas men often report information or problems. It is important to embrace and welcome diversity in the organization to facilitate creativity and encourage the learning community. However, there are paradoxes tied up with the concepts of individual, micro- and macro-identities, and these might inhibit full participation in the organization. Although workers might apparently be encouraged to be creative, the organization typically places limitations on where, how and when they can speak.
- The material reviewed in this chapter illustrates that managers are aware of the importance of persuasive communication in their role as negotiators. The growth of teams, globalization and the need to retain employees require managers to acquire expertise as accomplished presenters of rational arguments. A knowledge of the rhetorical context of the communication process enables the manager to create a managerially biased social reality.
Chapter 15: Decision making
- When, in July 2006, the owners of the TV company CHUM Ltd decided to sell their company to Bell Globemedia of Canada, 281 people became redundant. Peter Murdoch, media vice-president of the Communications Energy and Paperworks Union, which represents employees in CHUM newsrooms, said ‘It’s absolutely a sense of betrayal. It’s a sense of bewilderment.’ From a different angle, CHUM chief executive Jay Switzer commenting on the sale said ‘This is a challenged sector and we have some work to do’.80 Such decisions by top managers impact on people on an almost daily basis in the corporate world.
- Decision making, the conscious process of making choices from among several alternatives to achieve a desired course of action, is said to be perhaps the most important management function. We have explained that decision making is central to managers’ ability to alter the activities of the organization and influence the behaviour of employees, and is at the heart of relationships of class and gender domination. Decision making is a complex phenomenon because it involves technical problems and power struggles.
- We have explained that the dynamics of organizations create a need for decision making. Decisions can be viewed as being primarily concerned with the allocation of resources and exercise of power. The neoclassical rational model of decision making has eight steps: identify the problem, define the objectives to be met, make a decision of who to involve in the solution and how to make the decision, generate alternatives, evaluate those alternatives, make a choice from among the alternatives, implement the choice, and follow up on the results of the decision. As decisions lead to actions and the discovery of new problems, another cycle of the rational model is begun.
- In reality, decision makers must suffer from bounded rationality. They do not have free and easy access to information, and the human mind has limited information processing capacity and is susceptible to a variety of cognitive biases. In addition, time constraints and political considerations can outweigh anticipated economic gain.
- We have addressed a number of structured group techniques designed to improve group processes and the quality of group decisions, including brainstorming, the nominal group technique, the stepladder technique, computer-mediated brainstorming and the Delphi technique.
- The neoclassical rational model neglects to factor into the process the effects of gender on individual and group decision making. Nor does it consider social factors, such as how social norms and expectations frame sense making or problem definition and the decision-making process. We have reviewed some of the literature which suggests that women construct and value knowledge in ways that are relational and oriented more towards sustaining relationships than achieving autonomy and power. The notion that women have a different voice and take a more holistic view of reality suggests that decision-making processes are influenced by the gender balance of the decision makers.
- Groups can make higher-quality decisions than individuals, but they might also experience groupthink and make decisions that are more risky or conservative than those of individuals. Research has demonstrated that groups do not necessarily make better-quality decisions.
- Society, as well as organizations, is increasingly concerned about unethical behaviour and its consequences, from loss of jobs to loss of savings and retirement funds, and from to government bail-outs to an increasingly collective distrust of corporations. Business ethics is about conducting business in an ethical manner and generating revenue with integrity. One response to public concern about unethical behaviour has been to develop codes of conduct so that individual decision makers with different moral standards and bases of moral judgement will have a consistent basis for their decisions.
- ‘Corporate social responsibility’ refers to the ethical principle that an organization should be accountable for how its behaviour affects local communities, society and the plant. Violations, for example, of health and safety regulations and environmental pollution affect large numbers of people in developed and developing economies; such managerial behaviour has been referred by some criminologists to as ‘corporate crime’.
- Finally, decision making traditionally remains associated with a ‘command and control’ vision of management, as well as a vision of managers as omnipresent and omnipotent. Decision making in the organization can be improved by using the four group processes described above.
Chapter 16: Power, politics and conflict
- In this chapter, we began with broad theory, to provide a basis for a better appreciation of grounded research at the work organization level. Common-sense views of power were outlined to explore the half-truths in them. Power appears to us to be ‘embodied’ in individuals, as something they possess and exert. However, macro theories of power show that there are many deep social roots or ‘sources’ of power systems, including the influences of ideology, military, politics and economics. Gramsci and Foucault outlined perhaps the most extensive theories of power, noting that it is anywhere and everywhere, because it constitutes the very way we talk and think about ourselves, let alone our organizational surroundings. Importantly, these two authors argue that power is a coin with two sides: on the one, consent, accommodation and domination; on the other, lack of commitment, stress, resistance, political action and ‘voice’.
- This knowledge was then applied to a critical look at key examples of work organization research. Collinson is a representative example of the new social analysis of organization, which links old industrial sociology with labour process theory and the contemporary analysis of meaning and identity in the workplace. We then explored some key examples of organizational behaviour research that deal directly with the concept of ‘power’. The organizational behaviour field has hardly seen a flood of research on the topic of ‘power’, and when it does consider this, it usually adds the prefix ‘perceived’, further limiting the strength of its analysis. Nevertheless, some fascinating and provocative findings and debates were detailed.
- Clearly, not all power, authority and influence is bad. Good parenting, teaching, policing, political advocacy and, in a certain sense management, can be understood as positive influences. The question of legitimacy, which in turn evokes questions of larger political and economic systems, comes into play as we recognize that there are two main justifications for disobedience to authority. One is when a subject is commanded to do something outside the legitimate range of the commanding authority, and the other is when the history of acquiring the commanding authority is no longer considered to be legitimate or acceptable (which includes being an unjust burden).
- These types of challenge to authority, building from the Gramscian and possibly the Foucauldian models above, start with recognizing people’s complicity in the taken-for-granted nature of systems of power, or rather hegemonic blocs of assumptions. Challengers dare to articulate these taken-for granted assumptions in order to engage in a rational analysis of legitimacy. What some refer to as a crisis in organizational commitment or loyalty may be the thin edge of this kind of wedge. Underlying it are frequently the types of challenge to the status quo or political gaming, for example. That is, it represents the removal of blind obedience, an erosion of the ‘other side’ of the power coin, consent and complicity. Managers as well as workers (and students of organizational behaviour!) have a right to think through and question the sources of legitimacy. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others operated on the principle of removal of consent, which for our purposes relates directly to a broad, social perspective on power.
Chapter 17: Human resource management
- In this chapter, we examined the development of HRM, and emphasized that it is a product of its times, linked to the ascendancy of a new political and economic ideology, and to the changed conditions of national and global capitalism.
- We examined three widely cited HRM models. The US models include Fomberg et al. and Beer et al. One European HRM model developed by British academics Hendry and Pettigrew extends Beer’s Harvard framework by drawing on its analytical aspects, connecting the outer (wider environment) and inner (organizational) contexts, and exploring how HRM adapts to changes in the context.
- We discussed a core assumption underlying much of the SHRM research and literature, that each of the main types of generic competitive strategy used by organizations (such as a cost leadership or differentiation strategy) is associated with a different approach to managing people, that is, with a different HR strategy.
- We examined the so-called ‘matching model’ and the ‘resource-based’ SHRM model. The former focuses on the notion of ‘fit’, while the latter places emphasis on an organization’s human endowments as a strategy for sustained competitive advantage. Paradox is an ongoing part of the employment relationship. The more critical evaluations of HRM expose internal paradoxes.
- The driving force behind the growth of interest in SIHRM and IHRM is the resurgence of neo-liberalism and the unprecedented growth in global markets. Critics argue that unfettered markets have created a new international division of labour, causing the transfer of manufacturing jobs from high-wage old industrialized regions to low-wage developing economies. They also argue that IHRM tends to emphasize the subordination of national culture and national employment practices to corporate culture and HR practices.
- The cross-national transfer of Anglo-Saxon HR practices for recruitment and selection, rewards, training and development, and performance appraisal will require some degree of cultural sensitivity, as well as consultation with host country nationals about local suitability.
- Despite the economic and political pressures from globalization, a divergence of HR practices continues to remain. This is influenced and shaped by national and organizational cultures in the developed and the developing world. Variations in national regulatory systems, labour markets, business-related institutions, and cultural and polyethnic contexts are likely to constrain or shape any tendency towards ‘convergence’ or a ‘universal’ model of ‘better’ HR practice. The sheer variation of economies, national institutional profiles and cultures makes claims for convergence simplistic and problematic.