Five Contributing Disciplines to the Organizational Behavior
Organizational behavior is a behavioral science that is built upon contributions from a number of behavioral disciplines. The dominant areas are psychology, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and political science. As we shall learn, psychology’s contributions have been mainly at the micro level of analysis; the other four disciplines have contributed to our understanding of macro concepts such as organization and group process.
Psychology is the science that seeks to measure, explain, and sometimes change the behavior of humans and other animals. Psychologists involve themselves with studying and attempting to understand individual behavior. Those who have contributed and continue to add to the knowledge of organizational behavior are learning theorists, personality theorists, counseling psychologists, and, most important industrial and organizational psychologist. Early industrial and organizational psychologists concerned themselves with problems of fatigue, boredom, and other factors relevant to working conditions that could impede efficient work performance. More recently, their contributions have been expanded to include learning, perception, personality, training, leadership effectiveness, needs and motivational forces, job satisfaction, decision making processes, performance appraisals, attitude measurement, employee selection techniques, work design and job stress.
Where psychologists focus on the individual, sociologists study the social system in which individual fills their role; that is, sociology studies people in relation to their fellow human beings. Specifically, sociologists have made their greatest contribution to organizational behavior through their study of group behavior in organizations, particularly in formal and complex organizations. Some of the areas within organizational behavior that have received valuable input from sociologist are group dynamics, design of work teams, organizational culture, formal organization theory and structure, organizational technology, communications, power conflict, and inter group behavior.
3. Social Psychology
Social psychology is an area within psychology, but it blends concepts from psychology and sociology. It concentrates on the influence of people on one another. One of the major areas receiving considerable investigation from social psychologist have been change, how to implement it and how to reduce barriers to its acceptance. In addition, social psychologists are making significant contributions in the areas of measuring, understanding, and changing attitudes; communication patterns; the ways in which group activities can satisfy individual needs; and group decision making processes.
Anthropology is the study or societies to learn about human beings and their activities. Anthropologists’ work on cultures and environments, for instance, has helped us understand differences in fundamental values, attitudes, and behavior between people in different countries and within different organizations. Much of our current understanding of organizational culture, organizational environments, and differences between national cultures is the result of the work of anthropologist or researchers using their methodologies.
5. Political Science
Although frequently overlooked, the contributions of political scientists are significant to the understanding of behavior in organizations. Political science studies the behavior of individuals and groups within a political environment. Specific topics of concern include structuring of conflict, allocation of power and how people manipulate power for individual self-interest.