Module MO020

Organizational Behavior


Module authors

Chiara Succi

ESCP Europe
France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain



Paola Viotto

ESCP Europe
France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain

Learning objectives

After you have studied this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the various aspects of human behavior, both at an individual level and at a group level
  • Encourage independent, critical, and mature thinking regarding management and people
  • Improve a manager's interpersonal skills
  • Recognize and value people diversity in gathering information, making decisions, motivating others, and being motivated
  • Identify possible sources of conflict
  • Influence others by taking into account their individual preferences and adapting your communication style accordingly
  • Understand the importance of, and recognize, the power dynamics within an organization
  • Analyze a company's culture and its impact on people and company performance
  • Identify some of the challenges and opportunities managers have to face in applying OB concepts.

Part I: The individual

Chapter 1: Personality
1.1 Introduction and personality elements
1.2 Personality frameworks
1.2.1 The Big Five personality model
1.2.2 The Myers¬–Briggs Type Indicator

Chapter 2: Motivation
2.1 Definition and theories
2.1.1 Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory
2.1.2 Theory X and theory Y
2.1.3 Mcclelland's theory of needs
2.1.4 The expectancy theory
2.1.5 The goal-setting theory
2.2 Application of motivation theories
2.2.1 Management by objectives (MBO)
2.2.2 Recognition and involvement programs
2.2.3 Variable pay programs

Part II: The Group

Chapter 3: Group dynamics
3.1 Group definition and stages of group development
3.2 The structural variables of groups
3.2.1 Roles
3.2.2 Norms
3.2.3 Status
3.2.4 Size
3.2.5 Cohesiveness
3.3 Group decision-making
3.4From groups to teams
3.5 Belbin's team roles
3.6 Team effectiveness

Chapter 4: Conflict
4.1 Definition and context
4.2 Sources of conflicts
4.3 The Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
4.3.1 Competing
4.3.2 Accommodating
4.3.3 Avoiding
4.3.4 Compromising
4.3.5 Collaborating

Chapter 5: Power and influence
5.1 Definition and sources of power
5.1.1 Formal power
5.1.2 Personal power
5.2 Influencing tactics

Part III: The organization

Chapter 6: Organizational culture
6.1 Definitions and key elements
6.1.1 Levels of culture
6.1.2 Elements of culture
6.2 Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory
6.3 Culture as a barrier

Chapter 7: Strategy execution and change management
7.1 New strategy execution emergency
7.2 Obstacles to strategy execution
7.3 Organizational alignment and performance
7.4 Transformation and change management

Workload units 3
Reading extract Organizational Behavior




Why Open School of Management believes that solid knowledge in organizational behavior is important

Organizational behavior is the study of how people and organizations made up of people interact. There are multiple levels of organizational behavior- the study of individuals, the study of small groups, and the study of entire organizations. Organizational behavior draws from many academic fields, but psychology is the most influential one. Organizational behavior can be quantitative and qualitative. Its most important applications are in business and politics.

When you finish this module, you will have a much better understanding of what motivates people and the dynamics of group action. You will also gain understanding of new management concepts and the ability to critically evaluate them. Two practical results are a better ability to gather information as a manager and the ability to value diversity among workers as a crucial element of team success. You will also be better able to manage conflict. You will be able to influence people and earn their trust by communicating with them effectively, and better understand the dynamics of power. Finally, you will study company culture and see real examples of the difficulty of applying OB ideas to real companies.
This module will develop a solid understanding of the fundamentals of organizational behavior. Rather than building up a background of past knowledge from the field, the module is divided into three parts to emphasize the state of current knowledge about individuals, groups, and organizations.

The first major section in this module is about the individual. Discussion of the individual is further divided into two parts: personality and motivation. Personality comes first.
The first topic in the personality sequence is the introduction. Personality plays a major role in human interaction. We feel intuitively that people with more similar personalities tend to get along better, but the definition of a personality and its traits is not easy to nail down. This topic introduces these ideas and discusses psychology's current understanding of personality.
The next topic discusses frameworks for analyzing personality. Like other topics in psychology, there are multiple different frameworks to use to talk about personalities and how they interact, depending on what kind of information you want to discuss.

The topic after that is an illustration of one such framework, and perhaps the most widely used one- the Big Five model. The Big Five model creates five major traits of personality and classifies people based on where they fall into each of the five spectrums: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Research has shown the Big Five model seems to have a wide explanatory power and the ability to measure personality among people of diverse ages and backgrounds.

The next topic is an exploration of an alternative personality framework- the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. The MBTI is based in the psychology of Carl Jung. Jung believed that people interpret the world in four main ways: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thought. For most people, one of these four aspects will be the primary means of experiencing the world, with the others less important. The creators of the scale, Isabel Myers and her daughter Katharine Briggs, built four scales from these four aspects: the extroversion/introversion scale, the sensing/intuition scale, the thinking/feeling scale, and the judging/perceiving scale. The placement of a given person on each of these four scales will place them into one of 16 different types. The MBTI has experienced significant and sustained criticism from researchers, who found it a less useful measure of personality than the Big Five model. It has low test-retest validity and most people fall into the middle of the scales, implying that separate types do not really appear in real life.

The personality discussion continues with examples of personality tests and classification to show you what these tests look like and how a person might be classified if they took each test. The last topic in the personality sequence is a summary of the module's content so far.

The next phase of the module's treatment of the individual is about motivation: what causes people to act. It opens, as with the personality sequence, with a section about definitions and theories. Motivation is more straightforward than personality. The basic ideas are a little easier to understand.

The first major theory to analyze is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This theory states that people try to fulfill their needs in a specific order: physiological, safety, love and belonging to a group, esteem, and self-actualization. Like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the hierarchy faces serious criticism from researchers, but it remains a large and influential model of motivation.

The next topic discusses Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X is a managerial theory that states that workers dislike work and tend to avoid it unless they are carefully supervised. Theory Y says that workers enjoy work and need little supervision to accomplish good results. These theories can describe different industries, work groups, and even people to explain how managers have different experiences with supervision.

The next theory is McClelland's theory of needs. It states that all people have three major needs: a need for power, a need for achievement, and a need for affiliation. Which need is most important to people affects their motivation. That means that both managers and workers can have different motivations, which affects the best way for managers to interact with workers.

The expectancy theory of motivation is explicitly about management- it states that workers work best when they are rewarded with rewards that the workers deserve and want. It is a theory of incentives for workers and how to motivate them with rewards.
The last theory is the goal-setting theory. Goal setting theory states that the motivation of a person to complete a task or goal depends on five factors: clarity of the goal, the challenge of the goal, commitment to the goal, feedback on progress towards the goal, and complexity of the task.

The next part of the motivation sequence is about applying those theories. The first section discusses managing using objectives, which is especially motivated by the goal setting theory. The following section analyzes setting up recognition and involvement programs, which are based on needs theories and expectancy. The last section of this portion is about variable pay systems, which also depend on expectancy theory.

The motivation sequence concludes by introducing some examples. The first example is General Electric, and the next is coaches.

The next major section of the module is about groups. The first sequence is about group dynamics. As usual, the sequence opens with a definition. The next several topics discuss the most important variables for group structure: roles, norms, status, size, and cohesiveness.

The next topics are more operational. First, the module covers group decision-making and the forces that govern it. Next, the module discusses the evolution of a group into a team, and how that changes the motivations of the members. The next topic is an analysis of Belbin's theory of team roles and what that means for managers. This segues cleanly into an analysis of team effectiveness. The team needs to act in coordination to get work done and take advantage of synergy.

The next sequence is a very important one for group action: conflict. As usual, the sequence opens with important definitions for use throughout the sequence. The first substantial topic discusses the sources of conflicts. Conflicts can seriously harm team effectiveness, so it is critical to understand how they arise. The next several topics analyze how to settle conflicts using the Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. This is a two-axis personality inventory that analyzes how a person handles conflicts. It yields five major types of conflict resolution: competing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating. These indicate how a person balances concern for completing the task at hand with concern for getting along with the others in a group. Examples and a summary conclude the sequence about conflict and conflict resolution.

The last sequence in the group section is about power and influence. As usual, the sequence opens with definitions. There are two main kinds of power: personal power and formal power. Formal power is defined by roles, while personal power arises from personalities. Influence comes both from power and from strategies that people use to manipulate others. The sequence ends with examples and a summary, as usual.

The last major section of the module is about organizations. There are two main sequences: one about culture and one about strategy execution and change management. The culture sequence sets up the key elements of culture and the different levels of organizational culture. The major psychological framework is Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, which discusses how cultures interact and communicate. The next topic describes how culture can be a barrier, both to communication with other cultures and within the culture. The module uses two high-profile examples, General Electric and the Four Seasons.

The final sequence of the module opens with the idea of an organization-level emergency that requires a new management strategy if the organization is to survive. The next topic describes the problems and obstacles to executing such a strategy. The module analyzes how organizational alignment can affect efficiency and execution of high-level goals. The last new topic is transformation of an organization and change management.


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