Basic Assumptions of Organizational Behavior (OB)

Every field of social science has a philosophical foundation of basic concepts that guides its development. Organizational behavior is based on the basic concept of human relations which is a noteworthy social approach towards the establishment of inter-personal relationship between superiors and subordinates. Organizational behavior deals with a set of fundamental concepts revolving around the nature of the people and organization. These concepts of organizational behavior are as follows:
Basic Assumptions of OB

1. The Nature of People

With regard to people, there are four basic assumptions: individual differences, a whole person, caused behavior (motivation) and value of the person (human dignity).

a) Individual Differences
People have much in common but each person in the world is also individually different. The idea of individual differences comes originally from psychology. From the day of birth, each person is unique and individual experiences after birth make people even more different. So, management can get the subordinates motivated by treating them individually and differently. Only one measure of motivated all people working in an organization. Some are motivated by money, but some other by status and any other. Hence, overall motivation plan is needed to deal with subordinates individually. Therefore, individual differences mean that management can get the greatest motivation among employees by treating them differently.

b) A Whole Person
Some managers think that they have employed a person just for his labor, skills or brain. So, they are concerned with his labor of work only but he has to employ a whole person rather than certain separate characteristics. Managers have to do a lot with a person’s personality, personal life, knowledge, development and other things. Though a person’s different traits may be separately studied, but in final analysis, they are integral part of one system making up a whole person. Skill does not exist apart from background or knowledge. Home life is not totally separable from work life and emotional conditions are not totally separable from work life and emotional conditions are not separable from physical conditions.

c) Caused Behavior (Motivation)
We know that behavior has certain causes. These may related to a person’s needs, and/or the consequences that result from acts. In case of needs, all normal human behavior and his/her course of future actions, both are caused by a person’s need structure. This fact leaves management with two basic ways to motivate people. It can show them how certain actions will increase their need fulfillment, or it can threaten decreased need fulfillment unless they follow a required course of action. Clearly a path towards increased need fulfillment is the better approach. Motivation is essential for the operation of organization. No matter how much machinery and equipment an organization has, these things cannot be put to use until they are released and guided by people who have been motivated. The management can create a suitable environment in the organization, conductive to the fulfillment of individual needs within the overall structure.

d) Value of the Person (Human Dignity)
Value of the person is more an ethical philosophy than a scientific conclusion. It confirms that people are to be treated differently from other factors of production because they are of a higher order in the universe. It recognizes that people are of a higher order, they want to be treated with respect and dignity, and should be treated this way. Every job, however simple, entitles the people who do it to get respect and recognition of their unique aspirations and abilities. The concept of human dignity rejects the old idea of using employee as economic tool. Therefore, treatment of the working staffs as a respectable human being, appreciation of their skills and recognition of their personality are very important basis of human relations.

2. The Nature of the Organization

With regard to organizations, the key assumptions are that they are social systems and that they are formed on the basis of mutual interest.

a) Mutual Interest
Organization theory tells us about the mutuality of interest between individuals and organization. In the other words, mutual interest is represented by the statement “Organizations need people, and people also need organizations”. Organizations have a human purpose. They are formed and maintained on the basis of some mutuality of interest among their participants. People see organizations as a means to help them reach their goals while at the same time, organizations need people to help reach organizational objectives. If mutuality is lacking, it makes no sense to try to assemble a group and develop co-operation, because there is no common base on which to build. Mutual interest provides a super-ordinate goal that unites the variety of needs that people bring to organizations. The result is that people are encouraged to attack organizational problems rather than each other. So, the management should try to co-ordinate the common goals and to motivate individual in a nice manner because members will like to continue within the organization as long as they feel that their interest are being served by attaching to the organization.

b) Social Systems
Organizations are social systems, consequently activities therein are governed by social laws as well as psychological laws. In other words, each organization is a social group having small number of groups. As people have needs, these organizations also have their needs, status and role. In fact, two types of social systems exist side-by-side in organizations. One is the formal (official) social system, and the other is the informal social system. The existence of a social system implies that the organizational environment is one of dynamic change, rather than a static set of relations as pictured on an organization chart. All parts of the system are inter-dependent and subject to influence by any other part. Everything is related to everything else. The idea of a social system provides a framework for analyzing organizational behavior issues. It helps to make organizational behavior problems understandable and manageable.

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