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Critically evaluate the view that understanding the multi-disciplinary nature Organisational Behaviour is essential to the effective management of both people and operations in organisations. Introduction Organisations do not operate in a vacuum. In order to survive and function effectively, any organisation has to interact constantly with the world outside, its environment. All effective managers must understand the nature of the people-organisation relationship. There are many interrelated factors that influence the behaviour and performance of people within organisations. The modern, effective manager has to be what could be described as a managerial paradigm: psychologist, anthropologist and sociologist. Effective leaders should strive for the integration of these factors.

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Any changes in business processes which are made, fundamental or otherwise, have ramifications for many other parts and aspects of an organisation. When a business process is re-engineered, jobs evolve from narrow and task-oriented to multi-dimensional. People who once acted only as they were instructed, now make choices and decisions on their own. Assembly line work may all but disappear, some functional departments may lose their reasons for being, managers stop acting as supervisors and behave more like coaches. Attitudes and values change, as does practically every aspect of the organisation, often beyond recognition.

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The objective of this essay is to outline an understanding of just how important the adoption of a multi-disciplinary approach is to the effective management of both people and operations in equal weight. The approach used will be that of careful assimilation of existing theory and documentation on this subject, gathered from an as eclectic range as possible, encompassing textbooks, oral testimony, daily newspapers, business journals and online resource bases.

Social science theory is traditionally difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. Instead, the approach universally adopted by scholars of this subject is that of deconstruction, disproving theories, not that of proving. Despite this nihilistic, negative approach, it is of crucial importance to consider models as singular perspectives, challenge them from an impartial, objective standpoint and then reject where necessary. Any search committed to discovering ‘one best way’, a ‘correct’ singular viewpoint, will be proved as supreme folly through the discourse of this essay. This information will then be applied to examples in the modern world, with ultimately any final conclusions being drawn.

Some writing, of one form or another, about organisations and management, can be traced back thousands of years. However, the end of the nineteenth century is where systematic development of management thinking can be first discovered, triggered largely by the vast expansion of large industrial organisations, such as Ford. Organisational Behaviour is the study of the behaviour patterns of people within an organisational setting; involving the understanding, control and prediction of human behaviour. One such clear definition is: “the study and understanding of individual and group behaviour, and patterns of structure in order to help improve organisational performance” (Mullins, L., 1999).

It is highly essential to the potentially effective manager to be able to categorise approaches to organisational behaviour, by the main trends in the stages of its development. These singular perspectives are a useful tool in aiding the pursuit of theory deconstruction. It is easiest to think of these approaches, by way of four main sub-divisions: Classical, Human Relations, Systems and Contingency.

These most typical approaches to the study of the behaviour of people should not be studied in isolation; understanding the interrelationships with the other variables, which comprises the total organisation, is also essential. (-See fig ?2.) Miner, states that the more that is known about organisations and their operations, the better ones chance of dealing effectively with them will be. The factors that are the architecture of contemporary organisations are many and wide-ranging. For example, an organisation and it’s operations are a combination of the people, systems, structures, technology and tasks along with many other more random in nature, variables.

Systems are the product of the rules, procedures, processes, people and technology available. Each individual facet of an organisation, those previously mentioned along with the people, structures, technology and tasks involved in organisational behaviour; possesses many variables that in turn become the manifestation of that particular aspect. This highlights the wide range of variables, both internal to the organisation and external, that can have deep effect on the efficient management of people and operations in organisations. Identifying and understanding the range of factors, which composes a business, would therefore appear to be a threshold competence for any effective and / or profitable organisation.

There are four main dimensions which collectively influence behaviour in organisations and therefore are essential to the effective management of both people and operations. Firstly, the individual, a central feature of any organisation, as whenever the needs of the individual are incompatible with those of the business, friction will occur. Secondly, the group, as groups of all sizes exists in all organisations, both formal and informal, often influencing the behaviour of those outside and inside of the group’s boundaries. Thirdly, the organisation, as both individuals and groups interact with each other within the structure of the organisation. Formal structures are created by the management, enabling people to effectively carry out their organisational activities. Finally, the environment, as the organisation functions as part of a wider external field. These four dimensions provide a number of overlapping pathways for study of the subject.

There are three main areas of the study of behaviour: psychology, sociology and anthropology. There are other, more obscure subjects, such as political science, which intertwine with these three, however, it is these primary drivers which have made the most important contribution to the subject of organisational behaviour. For example, the manager as psychologist can be derived from the individual type of dimension.

Psychologists are largely concerned with the study of individual human behavioural patterns. It is also possible to adopt a sociological approach to management through the pursuit of the group dimension. Sociologists’ main focus is that of social structures and positions within those structures. Anthropology is the science of mankind, mainly focussing attention on the cultural systems, beliefs, customs, ideas and values evident in organisations, as far as organisational behaviour is concerned. Behavioural science underpins the field of organisational behaviour.

In order for an organisation to function and survive effectively, it has to interact constantly with the world outside, its environment. This too, is an essential element to the effective management of both people and operations in organisations. The environment of an organisation is the issues, trends, events and other factors which are outside the boundaries of the organisation, but which can have an influence on internal decisions and behaviour patterns. “Environment, the surroundings or conditions within which something or someone exists”(Chambers Combined Dictionary Thesaurus, 1999)

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Kylie Garcia

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