What Is Organizational Behavior? Motivation Theory

Managers need to develop their interpersonal or people skills if they are going to be effective in their jobs. Organizational behavior (OB) is a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structures have on behavior within an organization, and then applies that knowledge to improve an organization’s effectiveness. Because OB is concerned with employment-related situations, it emphasizes behavior on the job, absenteeism, employment turnover, productivity, human performance, and management.


We all hold generalizations about the behavior of people. Many of these are casual or commonsense approaches to “reading” people. Some of our generalizations may provide valid insights into human behavior, but many are erroneous. Organizational behavior adopts the belief that behavior is not random. OB identifies certain fundamental consistencies underlying behavior from which more accurate predictions can be made. Yet, because people are different, we need to look at OB in a contingency framework, using situational variables to moderate cause-effect relationships.


Organizational behavior offers both challenges and opportunities for managers. It recognizes differences and helps managers to see the value of workforce diversity and practices that may need to be changed when managing in different countries. It can help improve quality and employee productivity by showing managers how to empower their people as well as how to design and implement change programs. It offers specific insights to improve a manager’s people skills. Organizational environments are characterized by rapid, ongoing change and globalization. OB can help managers cope in a world of “temporariness” and learn ways to stimulate innovation. Finally, OB can offer managers guidance in creating an ethically healthy work climate.

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