Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
In this lesson, you will explore the field of organizational behavior and its relation to psychology, including goals and research methods. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.
There is great chemistry in my workplace. I mean, the employees really get along, everyone works well together, and there are rarely conflicts. Of course, I work from home, but hey, I've got great chemistry with myself. Okay, I also teach at a university, and there, the dynamics between people become much more important. Far from being random, understanding how people interact at work is a real science.
Organizational behavior, or organizational psychology, is the study of human behavior in an organizational setting. In essence, in the workplace. It is related to a larger field of psychology, which is the study of the human mind and behavior. Organizational psychologists study workplace relations, attitudes, and behaviors. The goal is to help the company by promoting greater happiness, job satisfaction, and mental wellness amongst employees. The psychologist may recommend changes in hiring practices, training, employee feedback, and management, all of which can influence the overall behavior of the workplace.
Areas of Analysis
One of the major focuses of organizational behavior as a science is the relationship of people in the workplace. For this, the researcher is not as concerned with how people interact with the business itself, just the other workers. In general, people behave differently around different groups of people. Think about how you behave differently when you are alone, when you are with friends, or when you are around authority figures. Another way to think about this is to imagine a company as a school. The first style of research focuses on the way people interact with each other, so in a school, this could mean how students interact or how they interact with the teachers.
Studying how individuals interact with the organization itself is the next level. What is the relationship between the people and the company? In our model, what is the relationship between the student and the school? What do students think of the school, how do they interact with the physical building versus the administration, etc.?
The final level of analysis is the relationship between organizations. Companies interact with each other all the time, and very often, they don't act like a group of people dealing with other people. The businesses almost become their own force, not just workers, managers, and boards of directors. Following our model, we can think about how different schools in the same district interact. Sometimes they share resources, sometimes they compete against each other through sports teams, and sometimes they join together against new district policies.
To do their work, organizational psychologists rely on research. They can't just walk into a place and change everything without understanding how that organization functions and what the actual problems are. To figure this out, they observe behavior, run sets of experiments, and talk with the workers. Organizational behavior takes time because the researcher needs to understand the company almost as well as if he or she worked there.
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Like many psychologists, those involved in organizational behavior use several types of research. Quantitative research involves collecting hard data, things like rates of production, time schedules, and salaries. These numbers are calculated into statistical and mathematical formulas to indicate major trends in behavior. Qualitative research, on the other hand, involves talking with employees, observing behavior and interaction, and studying other social or historical factors that could influence the workplace. The information gained in this style of research cannot generally be formulated into pure numbers, but gives important insight into the reasons people and companies behave in certain ways.
Organizational behavior, also called organizational psychology, is the study of human behavior in an organizational setting. Most commonly, this refers to the workplace. This is related to the larger discipline of psychology, the study of the human mind and behavior, but has a more specific focus.
Organizational behavior research generally falls into three categories of analysis. The first examines how people interact with each other within the workplace. The second examines how people interact with the organization itself. The third examines how organizations interact with each other.
Organizational psychologists spend lots of time developing an understanding of the organization and use a variety of research methods. Quantitative research relies on numerical data that can be calculated with mathematical or statistical formulas. Qualitative research is focused on non-numerical data, things like behavioral observation and talking with employees about their thoughts and feelings. Both are important parts of understanding human behavior. If everything goes well, your workplace chemistry will be as good as if you worked from home.
When you have absorbed the main points of this lesson, find out if you're prepared to:
Highlight the correlation between organizational behavior and psychology
Outline the areas that organizational psychology focuses on
Discuss the types of research organizational psychologists use in their work
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