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Topic 1– Organizational Behavioral Theory Critique

Each of the theories you learned about this semester are anchored in a set of assumptions regarding human behavior. For example, goal setting theory assumes that people are driven to behave in accordance with some future expectation of achieving a given goal. Pick one or two theories that you tend to disagree with in terms of these underlying human behavioral assumptions and write a paper explaining your disagreement or counter-argument (e.g., why you think this theory is not actually representative of general human behavior). You should draw on your own personal experiences and other resources such as research papers, news articles, case studies, etc.

Personality – Chapter 5
From Robins and
Judge Text
What is personality?
Enduring characteristics that describe a person’s behaviors or the sum total
of ways in which an individual reacts to and interacts with others.
Personality Determinants
Heredity vs. Environment
Identical Twin Study
Genetics account for over 50% of
personality similarities
Environment plays a role but not as
large as most think
Three Identical Strangers_Today Interview
Can it be measured?
Self report scales vs observations of others
Popular Assessment: Myers Briggs Type Indicator Online MBTI Test
Extraverted (E) vs. Introverted (I) – Extraverted = outgoing, sociable, and assertive; Introverts = quiet and
Sensing (S) vs. Intuitive (N) – Sensing = practical, prefer routine and order, focus on details; Intuitives =
unconscious processes and look at “big picture”
Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) – Thinking = use reason and logic to handle problems; Feeling =rely on their
personal values and emotions
Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P) – Judging = want control and prefer their world to be ordered and structured;
Perceiving types = flexible and spontaneous
Personality Details.
Big Five Model Big Five Personality Test
Extraversion = happier, higher performing employees;
greater interpersonal and leadership skills; more
impulsive and likely to lie
Agreeableness = happier, higher performing
employees; follow rules; easy to get along
Conscientiousness = strongest relationship to job
performance; make good managers; highly organized;
may struggle with change; slow to learn complex skills
Emotional Stability = happy employees; low stress;
great for jobs requiring interactions
Openness = creative, flexible employees; excited to
learn; great leaders that adapt to change quickly
Other Highly Studied Traits
Core Self Evaluation – Bottom-line conclusions
individuals have about their capabilities, competence,
and worth as a person.
self-monitoring – A personality trait that measures an
individual’s ability to adjust his or her behavior to
external, situational factors.
proactive personality – People who identify
opportunities, show initiative, take action, and
persevere until meaningful change occurs.
Other Highly Studied Traits
Machiavellianism – The degree to
which an individual is pragmatic,
maintains emotional distance, and
believes that ends can justify means
Narcissism – The tendency to be
arrogant, have a grandiose sense of
self-importance, require excessive
admiration, and have a sense of
Other Highly Studied Traits
Other-orientation is a personality trait that
reflects the extent to which decisions are
affected by social influences and concerns vs.
our own well being and outcomes.
Risk taking – The degree to which people are
willing to take chances
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.
Have both content and intensity attributes:
Content: what is important
Intensity: how important is it
Value System: A hierarchy based on a ranking of an individual’s values in
terms of their intensity.
The importance of values
We enter an organization with
preconceived notions of what “ought”
and “ought not” to be. These notions are
not value-free; on the contrary, they
contain our interpretations of right and
wrong and our preference for certain
behaviors or outcomes over others. As a
result, values cloud objectivity and
rationality; they influence attitudes and
Terminal Values: Desirable end-states of existence; the goals of a
person would like to achieve during his or her lifetime.
Instrumental Values: Preferable modes of behavior or means of
achieving one’s terminal values.
Generational Values
Personality and Values to the Workplace
personality–job fit theory – A theory that identifies six personality types
and proposes that the fit between personality type and occupational
environment determines satisfaction and turnover.
person–organization fit essentially argues that people are attracted to
and selected by organizations that match their values, and they leave
organizations that are not compatible with their personalities
Personality and Values to the Workplace
Big Five Linkage:
People high on extraversion fit well with aggressive and teamoriented cultures
People high on agreeableness match up better with a supportive
organizational climate than one focused on aggressiveness
People high on openness to experience fit better in organizations
that emphasize innovation rather than standardization
Cultural Differences in Values
Power distance- describes the degree to which people in a country
accept that power in institutions and organizations is distributed
Individualism versus collectivism
Masculinity versus femininity
Uncertainty avoidance- the degree to which people in a country prefer
structured over unstructured situations
Long-term versus short-term orientation
Cultural Differences
The United States is very individualistic
The United States also tends to be short term in
orientation and low in power distance
â—‹ It is also relatively low on uncertainty avoidance
â—‹ The United States scores relatively high on
Most people emphasize traditional gender roles
Self Assessment Assignment
Go back to slides 4 and 5 and complete BOTH the MBTI and Big 5 personality tests. In an attached
document on Isidore: First report your results of both tests. Next, write a paragraph explaining these
results and how well you feel like they reflect what you think your personality really is. Include a few
sentences about what you may have learned about yourself. Finally, explain how the results of the
test might have an impact on your future career choices or goals.
Perception and Decision
Making – Chapter 6
Perceptions Matter!!
From Robins and
Judge Text
What is perception?
Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their
sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
It is important to the study of OB because peoples’ behaviors are based on
their perception of what reality is, not on reality itself.
Factors affecting perception
Attribution Theory
An attempt to determine whether an individual’s behavior is internally or externally caused.
Internally – behaviors we believe to be under personal control
Externally – behaviors we believe the situation forced the individual to do
Three components of the attribution theory
Distinctiveness – do individuals display different behaviors in different situations?
Consensus – did everyone who faced a similar situation respond in the same way?
Consistency – does the individual respond in the same way overtime?
Attribution theory
Fundamental attribution error – we tend to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate
the influence of internal factors for others
Self-serving bias – individuals attribute their own successes to internal factors and blame external factors for
Decision Making Shortcuts
Selective Perception – any characteristic that makes a person, object, or event stand out will increase the
probability that it will be perceived
Decision Making Shortcuts
Halo effect – tendency to draw a general impression about someone on the basis of ONE characteristic
Decision Making Shortcuts
Contrast effects – our reaction to one person is
influenced by other people we have recently
Ex: an interview situation in which one sees a pool of job
Decision Making Shortcuts
Stereotyping – judging someone on the basis of our
perceptions of the group he/she belongs to:
“Men aren’t interested in child care services,”
“Older workers can’t learn new skills,”
“Asian immigrants are hardworking and conscientious.”
Shortcuts in Application
Employment Interview – Evidence indicates that interviewers make perceptual judgments that are often
Performance Expectations – Evidence demonstrates that people will attempt to validate their perceptions of
reality, even when those perceptions are faulty.
Self-fulfilling prophecy or Pygmalion effect characterizes the fact that people’s expectations determine their behavior.
Expectations become reality.
Performance Evaluation – An employee’s performance appraisal is very much dependent on the perceptual
Many jobs are evaluated in subjective terms. Subjective measures are, by definition, judgmental.
The link between perceptions and decisions
Decisions – choices among two or more alternatives
Top managers – determine goals, product & services
to offer, and best finance operations
Middle/lower level managers – production schedule,
selection of new employees, & allocate raises
Nonmanagerial employees – decide how much
effort to put forth & compliance with boss’s
Decision making occurs as a reaction to a problem; One
person’s problem is another person’s satisfactory state
Rational vs Bounded Rational Models
Rational Model:
Bounded Rationality:
The decision maker has complete information and is
able to identify all the relevant options in an unbiased
manner, and chooses the option with the highest utility.
Most people respond to a complex problem by reducing
the problem to a level at which it can be readily
To use the rational model in the real world, you need to
gather a great deal of information about all the options,
compute applicable weights, and then calculate values
across a huge number of criteria.
Individuals operate within the confines of bounded
rationality. They construct simplified models that
extract the essential features.
Identify a limited list made up of the more conspicuous
choices, which are easy to find, tend to be highly visible,
and they will represent familiar criteria and previously
tried-and-true solutions.
An unconscious process created out of distilled experience.
Least rational way of making decisions
A fast decision making process and usually engages emotions
Based on years of experience and learning
The key is to neither abandon nor rely solely on intuition, but to
supplement it with evidence and good judgement
Biases in Decision Making
Overconfidence bias – when
someone’s too confident about their
ideas , it might keep them from
planning on how to avoid possible
Biases in Decision Making
Anchoring bias – fixating on
initial information & failing to
adequately adjust to subsequent
Biases in Decision Making
Confirmation bias – we seek out information that reaffirms past choices, and discount
information that contradicts our judgements; We gather information subjectively, not
Availability bias – tendency for people to base judgements on information that is readily
available, whether it’s the most recent or the most prevalent.
Errors in Decision Making
1)Escalation of commitment – staying with a decision even when there is clear
evidence that it is wrong
2)Randomness error – tendency to believe we can predict the outcome of random
events, even though none of us can
3)Risk aversion – tendency to prefer a sure thing instead of a risky outcome
4) Hindsight Bias – The tendency to believe falsely, after an outcome of an event is
actually known, that one would have accurately predicted that outcome.
Reducing reliance on biases and errors
Are some people more prone to bias and errors?
Decision making may be affected by: personality, gender, mental ability, cultural differences, education, etc.
Organizations can constrain decision makers, creating deviations from the rational model. Constraints may
Performance Evaluations – managers are strongly influenced in their decisions making by the criteria by which they are
Reward Systems – influences decision making by suggesting what choices are preferable in terms of personal payoff
Formal Regulations – organizations create rules, policies, procedures, and other formalized regulations to standardize the
behavior of their members
System-imposed time constraints – organizations impose deadlines on decisions – Decisions must be made quickly in
order to stay ahead of competition & keep consumers satisfied
Historical Precedents
Workplace Attitudes –
Chapter 3
From Robins and
Judge Text
What are Attitudes?
Attitudes are
favorable or
objects, people, or
events. They reflect
how we feel about
Attitude-Behavior Relationship
Early research (and logic) suggests attitudes lead to behaviors
Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance suggests behaviors lead to
People alter attitudes to achieve consistency between attitudes and
behaviors Example: Tobacco Company executives
Recent research supports attitude-behavior link and that dissonance
moderates the relationship
Major Job Attitudes
JOB SATISFACTION: A positive feeling about a job, resulting from an
evaluation of its characteristics.
JOB INVOLVEMENT: Degree to which people identify
psychologically with their job and consider their perceived
performance level important to self-worth.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: An individual’s involvement with,
satisfaction with, and enthusiasm for the work they are doing.
Major Job Attitudes
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT: Degree to which an employee
identifies with a particular organization and its goals and wishes to
remain member. Composed of
Affective: emotional attachment to organization.
Continuance: economic value of staying.
Normative: moral or ethical obligations.
EE’s believe the organization values their contribution and cares
about their well-being.
Some outcomes of these attitudes
Though these attitudes are highly related (statistically) and difficult to
distinguish in practice, they are strongly related to:
Lower Turnover
Higher performance
Lower Workplace Deviance
A bit more on Job Satisfaction
The most studied of all workplace attitudes.
Is generally accepted that happy employees are better employees. The
Difficult to define “happy employees”
This makes is difficult to measure happiness
Current approaches include asking “On a scale of 1 to 7, how
satisfied are you with your job?” or to rate certain elements of a job
such as relationship to coworkers, degree of autonomy, pay, etc.
Difficult to define “better employees”
Individual Exercise
Submit (as an attachment) your answers to the following questions on Isidore.
1. Do you think certain individuals are attracted to certain jobs? Provide examples.
2. Why do you think many people are in jobs that are not satisfying despite that ?
3. How could the measurement of job satisfaction be improved?
4. Search “are happy employees more productive” on the internet. Read one article and summarize it
in two paragraphs
5. Despite the evidence that happy employees tend to be more productive, why do many managers
remain unconcerned with increasing employee job satisfaction?
6. Watch this Ted Talk about Happiness in the Workplace and answer the following: Interesting Take
on Happiness
What is “the Happiness Advantage”?
What is the difference between these two ideologies: “I will be happier once I achieve my goals” and “I am
positive in the present” on workplace productivity?
What is the overall message or point of this speaker?
Intro to OB – Chapter 1
OB Research – Appendix A
From Robins and
Judge Text
Why Study OB?
Why do business schools require students to take courses like OB,
communications, ethics, etc. in addition to technical areas (accounting,
finance, marketing, etc.)?
❑ Orgs need employees/managers with people skills
Greater interpersonal skills result in managerial effectiveness, enhanced
leadership, lower turnover of quality employees, attraction of higher quality
job candidates, better financial performance
Effective Managers
Manager: Someone who gets things done through other people in
organizations. Most studied managerial functions include:
Managerial Competencies
Technical Skills – The ability to apply specialized knowledge or
expertise. All jobs require some specialized expertise, and many
people develop their technical skills on the job.
Conceptual Skills–The mental ability to analyze and diagnose
complex situations.
Human Skills–Ability to work with, understand, and motivate other people,
both individually and in groups, describes human skills.
Managerial Challenges
Constant Innovation
Highly Networked Orgs
Economic Pressure
Work/Life Balance
Workforce Diversity
Unanticipated Phenomena
Customer Service
Enter Organizational Behavior
Defined: a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and
structure have on behavior within organizations
Purpose: applying findings toward improving an organization’s effectiveness.
Bottom line: OB is the study of what people do in orgs and how it affects org
Effectiveness of OB
Behavior is generally
predictable if we know
how a person perceives
a situation and what is
important to him/her.
Managers should rely
more on this
predictability rather
than intuition alone
when making decisions
that ultimately affect
org performance
A word on predictability
“God gave all the easy problems to the physicists.”
There are few, if any, simple and universal
principles that explain OB. There are lots of
behavioral contingencies
Contingency Variables – situational factors are
variables that moderate the relationship between
the independent and dependent variables.
Examples: cultures, personal
experiences/backgrounds and life, group
dynamics, office environment, economic
pressures, etc.
Why OB
Salesperson 1
Salesperson 2
Salesperson 3
You are the new supervisor to these 3 salespeople and you
were an outside hire so you know nothing about them except
their performance records.
Levels of OB Analysis
Inputs: factors that exist in advance of the employment relationships
Processes: actions that individuals, groups, and organizations engage in as a result of inputs
Outcomes: variables you want to explain that are affected by some other variable
Researching in OB
For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.
—H. L. Mencken
One should view all statements with a healthy does of skepticism and careful
analysis. For example:
Money motivates employees
Important Research Terminology
Variable – any general characteristic that can be measured and that changes in amplitude,
intensity, or both
Dependent – a response that is affected by an independent variable
Independent – presumed cause of some change in the dependent variable
Moderating – abates the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable
Hypothesis – A tentative explanation of the relationship between two or more variables
Theory – describes a set of systematically interrelated concepts or hypotheses that purports to
explain and predict phenomena (sometimes call models)
E.g., Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory, Social exchange theory, equity theory, servant leadership
theory, etc.
Important Research Terminology
Causality – Direction of cause and effect between to variables
Correlation Coefficient – Strength of the relationship between two variables. Expressed as a
number between –1.00 (a perfect negative relationship) and +1.00 (a perfect positive correlation)
Does high correlation between variables X and Y mean X causes Y?
Evaluating Research
Three important questions to evaluate any research:
❑ Is it valid – Does the study actually measure what it claims to measure
❑ Is it reliable – Are the measurement instruments consistent (e.g., wooden yardstick vs elastic tape
❑ Is it generalizable – Will the results hold for other populations (e.g., will a study about managerial
decision making that used college students as the subjects actually get the same results among real
life managers)

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