8 Nature of Organizational Behavior

Nature of Organizational Behavior

The nature of organizational behavior may be understood from the characteristics that are discussed as follows:

  1. A Separate Field of Study
  2. Interdisciplinary
  3. Behavioral Approach
  4. Practical Orientation
  5. Use of Scientific Methods
  6. Open System Approach
  7. Three Levels of Analysis
  8. Concern for Effectiveness

A Separate Field of Study

Organizational behavior is a separate field of study that is dedicated to studying behaviors and their impact on organizational processes and functions. Though it borrows concepts from different fields of study, it is a distinct field that proposes its own theories.

Behavioral scientists have been accumulating a distinct knowledge base about behaviors within organizations that form the foundation of this field of study.


Organizational behavior is interdisciplinary in nature. In fact, Organizational behavior is based upon the premise that the field should develop from knowledge in other disciplines, not just from its own isolated research base.

So, we may say OB is multidisciplinary. The fields of psychology, socio-psychology, anthropology, and sociology contribute to the development of this field of study. Researchers have developed theories of organizational behavior on the basis of research conducted on the concepts of these fields.

Behavioral Approach

Since the field of organizational behavior studies behaviors and their impact on various organizational processes, it is based on a behavioral approach to management. The underlying assumption is that effectiveness in management can be brought by improvement in the interpersonal skills of managers which can be attained through the understanding of behaviors.

Almost every aspect of the behaviors in organizations has been studied by the specialists of OB and as a result, in the past few decades, OB has developed into a diverse field (Greenberg, 1994).

Practical Orientation

Organizational behavior is an applied field of study that has a practical orientation. Research on various behavioral aspects of employees is conducted with a view to improving the existing conditions in organizations.

Researchers in the field of organizational behavior have focused on ‘cause and effect’ orientation, that is, attempts have been made to understand the cause of a behavior or the outcomes of that behavior in an organizational situation.

Scientists try to identify the impact of people on organizations and organizations on people. For example, researchers have been able to help answer the following practical questions:

  1. How to increase job satisfaction of employees in different sectors?
  2. What is the significance of interpersonal trust in an effective team?
  3. How to reduce communication barriers in organizations?
  4. Can the quality of leadership determine employee performance?
  5. What can be done to motivate employees?
  6. How to implement change effectively in organizations?

Use of Scientific Methods

The word science has been defined as “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena” (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1975, p. 1162). Scientists of organizational behavior study the problems using the knowledge obtained from research in behavioral sciences.

This field of OB finds its roots in science (Greenberg & Baron, 2000) Theories in organizational behavior are developed on the basis of empirical research that follows scientific methods of inquiry. Data is collected, and processed, and the hypothesis is developed and tested like in any other science. Old concepts are tested for their validity and new ones are proposed on the basis of scientific research to find solutions to organizational problems.

Open System Approach

Organizational behavior views organizations as open systems. An open system is one that interacts with the external environment, whereas a closed system is self-supporting. Organizations may be considered as open systems because of their interdependence with the external environment.

The very existence of organizations depends on how well employees respond to environmental changes and alter their behavioral patterns to fit emerging environmental conditions.

For example, if a competitor of a firm has adopted a new technology of production with the help of which it can lower its costs, the firm will be forced to adopt new technology and its employees will have to learn to work with the new technology, in order to remain in the competition.

Organizations interact with the external environment to acquire all the resources men, money, machine and material, and information. In contrast, a closed system has all the resources needed to survive without dependence on the external environment. It may be noted that no organizations can be perfectly closed systems.

Organisations as Open Systems
Organizations as Open Systems

Three Levels of Analysis

As evident from the definitions of OB in section 1.3, the field of OB has three levels of analysis: individual, group, and organization. The individual level focuses on the attributes and behaviors of employees and their outcomes on thought processes, such as personality, values and attitudes, perception, and motivation.

The group-level analysis deals with the way people interact with each other and its outcome on various processes like group dynamics, decision-making, leadership, power and politics in organizations, and conflict management.

At the organizational level, the focus is on organizational variables like organizational structure, culture, change management, and organization development. The concern is also to study how organizations interact with their environments.

Each aspect of any level of analysis usually relates to all three levels. For example, decision-making includes individual decision-making and its impact on group dynamics. It also relates to the organization’s structure.

Concern for Effectiveness

The objective of the field of organizational behavior is to bring effectiveness to management processes through an understanding of the impact of behaviors.

It aims at improving the interpersonal skills of employees so that they are able to satisfy customers, work as good team members, and act as better superiors, subordinates, and peers which ultimately leads to overall organizational effectiveness.

FAQs Section

What is the nature of organizational behavior?

The following is the nature of organizational behavior:
1. A Separate Field of Study
2. Interdisciplinary
3. Behavioral Approach
4. Practical Orientation
5. Use of Scientific Methods
6. Open System Approach
7. Three Levels of Analysis
8. Concern for Effectiveness.

What is the meaning of organizational behavior?

Study of behaviors in an organization that results from the interactions between individuals, groups within the organization, and also between internal and external environment.

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