Organizational behavior (OB) research has
contributed much of what we know about behavioral views of
management, human resources management, motivation, leadership, trust,
teamwork, and conflict
Four people stand out as early advocates of
the OB approach. These include Robert Owen, Hugo
Munsterberg, Mary Parker Follett, and Chester Barnard.
1. Robert Owen, a successful Scottish businessman, proposed a utopian
2. Hugo Munsterberg created the field of industrial psychology—the
scientific study of individuals at
work to maximize their productivity and adjustment.
3. Mary Parker Follett was a social philosopher who thought the
manager’s job was to harmonize and
coordinate group efforts.
4. Chester Barnard, president of New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, saw
organizations as social
systems that required human cooperation.
a. He believed that managers’ major roles were to communicate and
stimulate subordinates to
high levels of effort.
b. He also introduced the idea that managers have to examine the
environment and then
adjust the organization to maintain a state of equilibrium.
Hugo Munsterbeg (1863-1916)
is considered to be the “father of industrial
psychology” and is regarded by
students of psychology as an important figure as Frederick Taylor is by
students of management.
Munsterberg attempted to develop practical applications of psychology.
He argued that psychologists could
help industry in three major areas:
a. Finding ways to identify individuals best suited to particular jobs.
b. Identifying the psychological conditions for optimum efficiency.
c. Finding ways to influence individual behavior to be congruent with
Mary Parker Follett
(1868-1933) brought to management the
perspectives of political science and social
work. She identified:
a. The importance of the functioning of groups, not just individuals, in
b. The principle of “power with” rather than “Power over” in
c. Conflict resolution through integration, i.e., finding a solution to
that would satisfy both parties.
d. The achievement of integrative unity, whereby the organization
as a functional whole, with the various interrelated parts working
effectively to achieve organizational goals.
The Hawthorne Studies
Without question, the most important
contribution to the developing Organization Behavior field came out
Hawthorne Studies, a series of studies conducted at the Western
Electric Company Works in
Cicero, Illinois. These studies, started in 1924 and continued through
the early 1930s, were initially designed
by Western Electric industrial engineers as a scientific management
experiment. They wanted to examine
the effect of various illumination levels on worker productivity.
Control and experimental groups were set up with the experimental group
being exposed to various lighting
intensities, and the control group working under a constant intensity.
If you were one of the industrial
engineers in charge of this experiment, what would you have expected to
happen? That individual output in
the experimental group would be directly related to the intensity of the
light? Seems perfectly logical,
doesn’t it? However, they found that as
the level of light was increased in the experimental group, output
for both groups increased. Then, much to the surprise of the engineers,
as the light level was decreased the
productivity decrease was observed in the experimental group only when
the level of light was reduced to
that of a moonlit night. What would explain these un-excluded that
illumination intensity was not directly
related to group productivity, and that something else must have
contributed to the results. However, they
weren’t able to pinpoint what that “something else” was.
In 1927, the Western electric engineers asked Harvard professor Elton
Mayo and his associates to join the
study as consultants. Thus began a relationship that would last through
1932 and encompass numerous
experiments in the redesign of jobs, changes in workday and workweek
length, introduction of rest periods,
and individual versus group wage plans.9 For example, one
experiment was designed to evaluate the effect
of a group piecework incentive pay system on group productivity.
Hawthorne studies reflected the scientific management tradition
of seeking greater efficiency by
improving the tools and methods of work—in this case, lighting.
1. In the first set of studies, no correlation was found between changes
in lighting conditions
and individual work performance. In fact, performance nearly always went
up with any
change—brighter or darker—in illumination.
2. In the second set of studies, the concept of the Hawthorne effect emerged. The Hawthorne effect refers to the
possibility that individuals singled out for a study may
improve their performance simply because of the added attention they
receive from the
researchers, rather than because of any specific factors being tested in
3. The third set of studies centered on group production norms and
4. Although simplistic and methodologically primitive, the Hawthorne
studies established the
impact that social aspects of the job (and the informal group) have on
5.Human Relations Movement:
This movement was an attempt to equip managers
with the social skills
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
developed a theory of
that was based on three assumptions
about human nature.
a. Human beings have needs that are never completely satisfied.
b. Human behavior is aimed at satisfying the needs that are yet
a given point in time.
c. Needs fit into a somewhat predictable hierarchy ranging from basic,
lower-level needs to higher-level needs:
1) Physiological (lowest)
3) Belongingness or social
5) Self-actualization (highest and NOT achieved by everyone)
Douglas McGregor (1906-1964)
Theory X and Theory Y
dichotomy about the
assumptions managers make about workers and how these assumptions affect
a. Theory X managers
tend to assume that workers are lazy, need to
coerced, have little ambition, and are focused on security needs. These
managers then treat their subordinates as if these assumptions were
b. Theory Y managers
tend to assume that workers do not inherently
dislike work, are capable of self-control, have the capacity to be
and innovative, and generally have higher-level needs that are often not
met on the job. These managers then treat their subordinates as if these
assumptions were true.
c. Workers, like all of us, tend to work up or down to expectations.
The Behavioral Science Approach:
It emphasizes scientific research as the basis
for developing theories about human behavior in organizations
that can be used to develop practical guidelines for managers.
1. The emphasis is upon developing useful tools for managers. Unlike
Management from the Classical Era, the findings in behavioral studies
somewhat difficult to find with mathematical certainty. That does not
however, that the scientific approach should not be attempted nor that
findings of such an approach are any less useful.
2. An example is the idea of improving performance by setting goals the
finds to be attainable yet not too easy.
Contributions of the behavioral viewpoint:
1. Spotlight the managerial importance of such
factors as communication, group
dynamics, motivation, and leaders.
2. Articulates practical applications of behavioral studies.
3. Draws on the findings of a number of disciplines such as management,
psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics.
4. Highlights the importance of an organization’s members as active
resources rather than passive tools.