Organisation behaviour is a major part of any business school curriculum because it sets out to help students understand how human beings deal with being part of organisations, large or small, working in teams and so forth. It is, essentially, the study of the 'soft' end of business. The theories derive from a variety of disciplines including sociology and psychology. It concerns itself with the complicated patterns of individual and group working. Thus the apparent aim of the study of organisational behaviour is to understand why people work in certain ways and then working out how to use this knowledge to improve the use of resources.
The history of the study of organisational behaviour is often broken down into different phases, beginning with both Scientific Management and the study of bureaucracy in the early-twentieth century. Both of these schools of thought were attempts to analyse human activity at work. The first looked at human beings as though they were part of a machine and sought to break activities down into discrete actions. The study of bureaucracy instead looked at the whole organisations and sought to define them through the varying levels of authority within the whole. The role of the manager in all this was also considered as the topic grew in scope.
As the study of psychology and psycho-analysis became more prevalent and more sophisticated, these rather mechanistic views eventually gave way to a more humanistic period in which it was seen that the workplace was also structured around mutually interactive groups of people who could not be defined in the earlier simplistic terms. Later on these ideas became even more sophisticated as it seemed that the work place was somewhere, if the conditions were right, people would find positive experiences, and where they could seek fulfilment and become creative.
Organisational behaviour, perhaps because it is about human beings, that generally defy categorisation, is home to...