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Organisational behaviour – definition and importance


Organisational behaviour is a very important subject in business management. It is an essential tool to manage teams at work effectively. It also helps managers understand and predict employee behaviour in an organisation.

Definition of organisational behaviour

Organisational behaviour (OB) is the ‘study of the structure, functioning, and performance of organisations, and the behaviour of groups and individuals within them’ (Pugh, 1971, P.9). According to Moorhead & Griffin (1995) it is the study of human behaviour in organisational settings, the interface between human behaviour and the organisation  itself.

Why study organisational behaviour?

Organisational behaviour deals with organisational structure and culture. Surely, an organisation cannot grow and function effectively without an appropriate structure. There are different kinds of organisational structures e.g. flat structure, tall structure, centralised structure, decentralised structure etc. It is note-worthy to mention that organisational cultures often influence organisational structures. A study into organisational behaviour makes readers acquainted with the concepts of organisational structures and cultures.

People behave differently in different situations. Behaviour of a person at work may be entirely different from his/her behaviour at home. Organisational behaviour researchers study the behaviour of people mostly in their work roles to understand organisational life. A study into this subject helps readers understand behaviour of people at work. It also helps managers realise the full potential of their subordinates.

Team work is essential to run day to day operations of a business. People work often in teams, not in isolation. However, is everyone a team player? Surely, there are many people who struggle in being part of a team. A study into organisational behaviour help readers understand how teams work, why team work fails, how to make a team successful and so on. Actually, organisational behaviour is an essential tool to manage teams effectively.

Motivation is certainly another important area of discussion in organisational behaviour. Different people are motivated by different means. Some employees may be motivated by a simple ‘thank you’ from their managers. However, a simple ‘thank you’ may not be enough for some others. Perhaps a ‘big bonus’ may need to be employed in order to motivate them. A study into organisational behaviour will of course help researchers understand what motivation is and how it works.

In a nutshell, importance of studying organisational behavior is manifold. It helps managers understand how individuals and teams behave and interact with each other in organisations. This in turn helps managers accomplish quality of performance and desired results.

The article publication date: 06 November 2016

Further Reading/References

Moorhead, G., & Griffin, R. W. (1995) Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations (5th edition) Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Pugh, D. (1971) Organisation Theory: Selected Readings, Harmonwords

Photo credit: Pixabay

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.