[notes] Organizational Behavior (raw)

These are my (un-revised) notes from the Organizational Behavior class at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The text for the class was called Organizational Behavior by Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge. I had the 15th edition. Hopefully I’ll come back to these notes sometime in the future, and when I do I’ll clean them up.

 1. What is Organizational Behavior?

Managers get things done through other people. They make decisions, allocate resources, and direct the activities of others to attain goals.

Management Functions

Minztberg’s Managerial Roles

Management Skills

Fred Luthans’ Managerial Activities

  1. Traditional management. Decision making, planning, and controlling
  2. Communication. Exchanging routine information and processing paperwork
    1. Human resource management. Motivating, disciplining, managing conflict, staffing, and training
    2. Networking. Socializing, politicking, and interacting with outsiders
    3. successful managers (with upward mobility) do the most networking
    4. efficient managers (max output) do the most communication

“Organizational behavior (often abbreviated OB) is a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structure have on behavior within organizations, for the purpose of applying such knowledge toward improving an organization’s effectiveness.”

“Evidence-based management (EBM) complements systematic study by basing managerial decisions on the best available scientific evidence.”

Disciplines That Contribute to the OB Field

“Because people are different, we need to look at OB in a contingency framework, using situational variables to explain cause-and-effect relationships.”

OB is good for:

Responding to Globalization

A Basic OB Model


 5. Personality and Values

[!!! top of pg 132 has a good source for our paper]

Personality => Enduring characteristics that describe an individual’s behavior.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Big Five Personality Model

Other Personality Traits Relevant to OB

entrepreneurs => want high openness and high conscientiousness, but risk taking doesn’t matter

Values => Basic convictions that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence.

[!!! pg 146 has some definitions for generations]

John Holland’s Personality–Job Fit Theory

Person–Organization Fit

[!!! millennials are more narcissistic on pg 155]

 6 (185-191). Perception

Perception => a process by which individuals organize and interpret their
sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.

Factors That Influence Perception

Attribution Theory


Self-fulfilling prophecy (or Pygmalion effect) describe how an individual’s behavior is determined by others’ expectations.

Creative Potential
[!!!??? pg 188 How much creativity is good for society?]

[!!!??? better to max know you know or know you don’t know?]

Self-Concept => An individual’s self-beliefs and self-evaluations

Self-Concept Processes

Johari window

 3. Attitudes and Job Satisfaction

Attitudes => Evaluative statements or judgments concerning objects, people, or events.

What Are the Main Components of Attitudes?

Cognitive Dissonance => any incompatibility an individual might perceive between two or more attitudes or between behavior and attitudes

[!!! Cognitive Dissonance as a way of learning about yourself]

Moderating Variables

Job Satisfaction => A positive feeling about one’s job resulting from an evaluation of its characteristics.

Responses to Job Satisfaction - EVLN model

 4. Emotions and Moods

Affect => A broad range of feelings that people experience.

[!!! pg 101 diagram of classifications of mood along two positive and negative dimensions]

Positivity offset => The tendency of most individuals to experience a mildly positive mood at zero input (when nothing in particular is going on).

Sources of Emotions and Moods

“We estimate people to experience more positive emotions than they do.”

Are Emotions Good?

Attitudes vs Emotions

“Emotions and cognition influence attitudes and behavior”

Emotional Labor => Effort, planning and control needed to express organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions

Emotional Dissonance => contradiction between emotions people feel and emotions people project

Emotional intelligence (EI) => a person’s ability to (1) perceive emotions in the self and others, (2) understand the meaning of these emotions, and (3) regulate one’s emotions accordingly in a cascading model

Motivation (Chapter 7)

 What is Organizational Behavior?


Workforce diversity

Robbins & Judge’s OB Model


Situation strength theory => the way personality translates into behavior depends on the strength of the situation (e.g. the degree to which norms, cues, or standards dictate appropriate behavior)

Trait Activation Theory => some situations, events, or interventions “activate” a trait more than others.

Value Difference Across Cultures

Motivation is the processes that account for an
individual’s initiation (arousal), direction (focus), intensity (level of effort), and persistence (in face of failure/setbacks) of effort toward attaining a goal

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Theory X and Theory Y

Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

  1. Motivators
  2. Hygiene Factors

McClelland’s Theory of Needs

  1. Need for achievement (nAch): drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standards, to strive to succeed.
  2. Need for power (nPow): need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise.
  3. Need for affiliation (nAfl): desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships.


 Individual decision making (Ch. 6, 191-208)

“Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.”

167 - factors that influence perception

Attribution theory tries to explain the ways in which we judge people differently, depending on the meaning we attribute to a given behavior. It suggests that when we observe an individual’s behavior, we attempt to determine whether it was internally or externally caused. That determination, however, depends largely on three factors: (1) distinctiveness, (2) consensus, and (3) consistency.

Internally => under the person’s control
Externally => caused by the situation
Distinctiveness => whether an individual displays different behaviors in different situations
Consensus => everyone who faces a similar situation responds in the same way

fundamental attribution error => When we make judgments about the behavior of other people, we tend to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal or personal factors.

self-serving bias => People also tend to attribute ambiguous information as relatively flattering and accept positive feedback while rejecting negative feedback.

 Common Shortcuts in Judging Others

Because we can’t observe everything going on about us, we engage in selective perception.

halo effect => When we draw a general impression about an individual on the basis of a single characteristic, such as intelligence, sociability, or appearance.

contrast effects => We don’t evaluate a person in isolation. Our reaction is influenced by other persons we have recently encountered.

stereotyping => When we judge someone on the basis of our perception of the group to which he or she belongs.

self-fulfilling prophecy, Pygmalion effect => how an individual’s behavior is determined by others’ expectations.

Decision making occurs as a reaction to a problem. That is, a discrepancy exists between the current state of affairs and some desired state, requiring us to consider alternative courses of action.

Rational Decision-Making Model
1. Define the problem.

  1. Identify the decision criteria.
  2. Allocate weights to the criteria.
  3. Develop the alternatives.
  4. Evaluate the alternatives.
  5. Select the best alternative.

bounded rationality => many problems don’t have an optimal solution because they are too complicated to fit the rational decision-making model. So people satisfice; they seek solutions that are satisfactory and sufficient.

intuitive decision making => an unconscious process created from distilled experience

 Common Biases and Errors in Decision Making

 Foundations of groups (Ch. 9, 276-294)

We define a group as two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives.

social identity theory => we define ourselves with respects to the groups we are a part of

Ingroup favoritism means we see members of our ingroup as better than other people, and people not in our group as all the same.

five-stage group-development model

  1. forming stage, is characterized by a great deal of uncertainty about the group’s purpose, structure, and leadership
  2. storming stage is one of intragroup conflict over hierarchy of leadership
  3. norming stage is complete when the group structure solidifies and the group has assimilated a common set of expectations of what defines correct member behavior
  4. performing the task at hand
  5. adjourning stage is for wrapping up activities and preparing to disband

punctuated-equilibrium model

Group Properties: roles, norms, status, size, cohesiveness, diversity

 Group Property 1: Roles

 Group Property 2: Norms

 Group Property 3: Status

status characteristics theory => status tends to derive from one of three sources:

  1. The power a person wields over others.
  2. A person’s ability to contribute to a group’s goals.
  3. An individual’s personal characteristics.

 Group Property 4: Size

 Group Property 5: Cohesiveness

 Group Property 6: Diversity

 Group decision making (Ch. 9, 294-298)

 Groups versus the Individual

groupthink describes situations in which group pressures for conformity deter the group from critically appraising unusual, minority, or unpopular views

groupshift describes the way group members tend to exaggerate the initial positions they hold when discussing a given set of alternatives and arriving at a solution

nominal group technique (for making group decisions)

 Conflict (Ch. 14, 432-443)

conflict => a process that begins when one party perceives another party has or is about to negatively affect something the first party cares about

traditional view of conflict => all conflict was bad and to be avoided

interactionist view of conflict encourages conflict on the grounds that a harmonious, peaceful, tranquil, and cooperative group is prone to becoming static, apathetic, and unresponsive to needs for change and innovation

functional conflict supports the goals of the group and improves its performance
dysfunctional conflict hinders group performance

managing conflict strategy => focus on minimizing negative effects of conflict

conflict process

  1. Potential Opposition or Incompatibility (communication, structure, and personal variables)
  2. Cognition and Personalization (recognize/define the conflict)
  3. Intentions (decide what you want)
  4. Behavior (do things to get what you want)
  5. Outcomes (consequences)

(3) five conflict-handling intentions

  1. competing/forcing/assertive (assertive and uncooperative)
  2. collaborating/problem solving (assertive and cooperative)
  3. avoiding (unassertive and uncooperative)
  4. accommodating/yielding (unassertive and cooperative)
  5. compromising (midrange on both assertiveness and cooperativeness)

(4) conflict management techniques
problem solving, expansion of resources, authoritative command, altering the human variable

 Creating effective teams (Ch. 10, 306-320)

work group => a group that interacts primarily to share information and make decisions to help each member perform within his or her area of responsibility
work team => generates positive synergy through coordinated effort

Problem-Solving Teams => authority to unilaterally implement any of their suggestions

Self-Managed Work Teams => perform highly related or interdependent jobs and take on many of the responsibilities of their former supervisors

Cross-Functional Teams => made up of employees from about the same hierarchical level but different work areas, who come together to accomplish a task

Virtual Teams => use computer technology to unite physically dispersed members and achieve a common goal.

 What Factors Determine Whether Teams Are Successful

personality of members

pg 317 (10-4) Key Roles of Teams

reflexivity => reflect on and adjust their master plan when necessary

 Communication (Ch. 11)

communication includes both the transfer and the understanding of meaning

communication process: (1) the sender, (2) encoding, (3) the message, (4) the channel, (5) decoding, (6) the receiver, (7) noise, and (8) feedback

Formal channels are established by the organization and transmit messages related to the professional activities of members
Other channels are informal channels

In downward communication, important to explain why
Upward communication provides feedback to higher-ups
Lateral communication saves time and facilitates coordination.

Nonverbal Communication:
body language conveys: (1) the extent to which we like another and are interested in his or her views and (2) the perceived status between a sender and receiver

Common Small-Group Networks
Chain => strict hierarchical
Wheel => central figure acts as conduit
All Channel => everyone talks to everyone

Rumors emerge as a response to situations that are important to us, when there is ambiguity, and under conditions that arouse anxiety.

Downsides to Email: Risk of misinterpreting the message, Drawbacks for communicating negative messages, Time-consuming nature, Limited expression of emotions, Privacy concerns

Problems with Communication

face-to-face scores highest in channel richness

high-context cultures such as China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, people rely heavily on nonverbal and subtle situational cues in communicating with others, and a person’s official status, place in society, and reputation carry considerable weight. What is not said may be more significant than what is said.

low-context cultures rely essentially on spoken and written words to convey meaning; body language and formal titles are secondary

Distortions, ambiguities, and incongruities between verbal and nonverbal messages all increase uncertainty and reduce satisfaction.

 Leadership (Ch. 12)

leadership => the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals

Trait theories of leadership focuses on personal qualities and characteristics.

Leaders who like being around people and are able to assert themselves (extraverted), who are disciplined and able to keep commitments they make (conscientious), and who are creative and flexible (open) do have an apparent advantage when it comes to leadership

Another trait that may indicate effective leadership is emotional intelligence (EI)

“traits do a better job predicting the emergence of leaders and the appearance of leadership than actually distinguishing between effective and ineffective leaders.”

behavioral theories of leadership implied we could train people to be leaders.

Fiedler contingency model proposes that effective group performance depends on the proper match between the leader’s style and the degree to which the situation gives the leader control.

Defining the Situation

  1. Leader–member relations is the degree of confidence, trust, and respect members have in their leader.
  2. Task structure is the degree to which the job assignments are procedurized (that is, structured or unstructured).
  3. Position power is the degree of influence a leader has over power variables such as hiring, firing, discipline, promotions, and salary increases.

task-oriented leaders perform best in situations of high and low control, while relationship-oriented leaders perform best in moderate control situations.

Situational leadership theory (SLT) focuses on selecting the right leadership style contingent on the extent to which followers are willing and able to accomplish a specific task.

Path–Goal Theory

leader-participation model relates leadership behavior and participation in decision making. It’s focuses on how the leader makes decisions.

(now on to contemporary leadership theories)

charismatic leadership theory, followers attribute heroic or extraordinary leadership abilities when they observe certain behaviors (vision, personal risk, sensitive to follower needs, unconventional behavior).

How Charismatic Leaders Influence Followers? With vision

Transactional leaders guide their followers toward established goals by clarifying role and task requirements

Transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their self-interests for the good of the organization and can have an extraordinary effect on their followers

The best leaders are transactional and transformational.

Characteristics of Transactional and Transformational Leaders (from transaction to transformative)

servant leadership => leaders that go beyond their own self-interest and focus on opportunities to help followers grow and develop.

attribution theory examines how people try to make sense of cause-and-effect relationships.

attribution theory of leadership says leadership is merely an attribution people make about other individuals

Substitutes for and Neutralizers of Leadership


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