Academic journal article Management Revue

New Directions in Organizational Behaviour?**

Academic journal article Management Revue

New Directions in Organizational Behaviour?**

Article excerpt

Organizational behaviour research possesses some endemic problems which constrict its progress. This introduction to Management Revue's special issue on organizational behaviour debates six deficiencies in the current research: an unclear conception of how to understand the "organizational" in organizational behaviour; the lack of studies which connect micro- and macro-behaviour; a sterile concentration on the study of relationships instead of mechanisms; a superficial understanding of the practical side of organizational behaviour research; an ignorance of the upheavals in the world of work; and a stagnation in theoretical developments. The last section introduces other articles in this issue of Management Revue.

Key words: Organizational Behaviour, Micro-Macro Link, Behavioural Mechanisms, Praxeology

Why new directions in organizational behaviour? Is organizational behaviour research not prospering? Didn't it produce much in the way of interesting knowledge? To deny the merits of organizational behaviour research would certainly be foolish. It has profoundly advanced our understanding of the world of work and it has given us valuable prompts to improve working conditions.1 Nevertheless organizational behaviour research possesses some endemic problems which constrict its progress. In what follows I will enter into six debates on current research. The deliberations centre on widespread misunderstandings and bad habits that need rethinking and thus lead to new directions in organizational behaviour research. In the last section I describe the intentions and content of the articles in this issue of Management Revue and how they contribute to tackling the debated problems.

1. What is organizational behaviour?

The first question deserving greater attention is simply in what sense do the studies assembled under the heading of organizational behaviour truly speak about organisational behaviour, i.e. about behaviour that is peculiarly "organizational". Certainly job satisfaction and the other main topics in the literature on organizational behaviour such as job performance, justice perceptions, leadership, and group decision making, have something to do with organizations. Jobs are normally done in organizations, fairness refers to payment and careers which play a major role in organizations, leadership is a question of significance for every superior, and the groups under study are often work groups which do their jobs in organizations. But that is perhaps all. Looking at the research field of "organizational behaviour" it seems as though it would suffice to speak of "behaviour studied within organizations" and consequently there would be no need to refer to a term like "organizational behaviour" at all. see, for example, the readings of Huseman/Carroll (1979) where organizational dimensions are covered in only one out of nine chapters and even in this chapter the question of the organizational impact is not really discussed. Instead one can find some very generalised deliberations on organizational design, the matrix organization and the contingency approach. The only exception is an article by Chris Argyris which critically describes some differences between the needs of individuals and the requirements of jobs. Similarly in the readings of Staw (1991) very few of the forty articles contain any reference to the characteristics of organizations. One article entitled "corporations, culture, and commitment" does indeed touch directly on our question, but on closer inspection it merely provides some shallow insights along the lines of culture being critical to developing "intensity and dedication"- characteristics that are described as ingredients of successful firms. Five of the articles in the Staw readings appear to contain at least an indirect reference to our question because their subject matter contains something relating to the management of organizational innovation. But on delving deeper it transpkes that two of them don't really get near the question at all. …

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