However much of a cliché, it is still an inescapable fact that people are the main resource of any organisation. Without its members, an organisation is nothing; an organisation is only as good as the people who work within it. In today’s increasingly dynamic, global and competitive environment an understanding of the effective management of the people resource is even more important for organisational survival and success. Organisational behaviour is concerned with the study of the behaviour of people within an organisational setting. It involves the understanding, prediction and control of human behaviour.
Common definitions of organisational behaviour (OB) are generally along the lines of: the study and understanding of individual and group behaviour and patterns of structure in order to help improve organisational performance and effectiveness.There is a close relationship between organisational behaviour and management theory and practice. It is sometimes suggested that organisational behaviour and management are synonymous, but this is an over-simplification because there are many broader facets to management.
Organisational behaviour does not encompass the whole of management; it is more accurately described in the narrower interpretation of providing a behavioural approach to management. Some writers appear critical of a managerial approach to organisational behaviour. Yet, while the role, responsibilities and actions of management are of course subject to legitimate debate, what cannot be denied is the growing importance of effective management, in whatever form or with whatever emphasis it is perceived, to the successful performance of the work organisation.
The use of separate topic areas is a recognised academic means of aiding study and explanation of the subject. In practice, however, the activities of an organisation and the role of management cannot be isolated neatly into discrete categories. The majority of actions are likely to involve a number of simultaneous functions that relate to the total processes within an organisation.
Consider, for example, a manager briefing departmental staff on a major unexpected, important and urgent task. Such a briefing is likely to include consideration of goals and objectives, organisation strategy and structure, management system, process of delegation and empowerment, systems of communication, teamwork, leadership style, motivation and control systems. The behaviour of the staff will be influenced by a combination of individual, group, organisational and environmental factors. Topic studies in organisational behaviour should not be regarded, therefore, as entirely free-standing. Any study inevitably covers several aspects and is used to a greater or lesser extent to confirm generalisations made about particular topic areas. The use of the same studies to illustrate different aspects of management and organisational behaviour serves as useful revision and reinforcement and helps to bring about a greater awareness and understanding of the subject.