UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY ORGANISATIONS
INTRODUCTION and BACKGROUND
“Organisational behaviour is one of the most complex, but perhaps least understood academic elements of the modern general management, but since it concerns the behaviour of people within organisations it is also one of the most central ... its concern with individual and group patterns of behaviour makes it an essential element in dealing with the complex behavioural issues thrown up in the modern business world” (Financial Times Mastering Management, 1997: 216).
“…organisational behaviour presents intrinsic complications in its theoretical constitution. Its domain is vast, highly imprecise in nature, dealing with the “immaterial”, the “soft” or “human” side of business life - thus allowing no mathematisation or purely scientific demonstration on the basis of some logical empirical process of induction”. (Costea & Crump, 1999: 403).
The study of organisations is a somewhat eclectic subject area that takes its knowledge base from several different academic disciplines. A large number of the existing texts take a managerial stance and consider the behaviour of people in organisations in terms of how that behaviour can be managed. Different topics within the discipline are typically presented as series of “management how-to’s”. From this perspective the behaviour of individuals or employees is regarded as simply part of the management task that can be managed through the application of a range of generic techniques.
However, the behaviour of individuals is governed not by a rule-driven logic, but is a result of subjective interactions between a range of factors that will vary at the level of the individual. This behaviour also does not occur in isolation in a vacuum. Behaviour will be affected by, and itself affect, the behaviour of other individuals. Behaviour may also be the result of a combination of factors at a given point. This means that it is difficult to attempt to...