Contextual Perspective of Organizational Behavior (OB)

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Organizational Behavior is related not only to the study of human behavior but also to studies of the relationship between employers and employees in an organization. Organizational behavior can be studied in different ways with a variety of approaches. Organizational behavior is increasingly influenced by several contextual perspectives. Following different contextual perspectives are common to OB.

Contextual Perspective of Organizational Behavior (OB)

1. Human resources approach: Under this approach, human resources are considered the central concern in studying organizational behavior. This approach believes on the success of an organization is possible only through the effective mobilization of human resources available in an organization. Thus, this approach focuses on the development of human resources in terms of their competency, creativity, and fulfillment. This approach is the contrast to the traditional management approach. The human resource approach stresses changing the directive and controlling role of managers to the supportive role for ensuring organizational growth and success. This approach is also called the supportive approach.

2. Productivity approach: Organizational behavior can be studied from the approach of productivity of the organization. Productivity is the measure of organizational effectiveness. It also reveals efficiency in optimizing resource utilization. It is the ratio of output to input. Greater output with comparatively less input is considered greater productivity. The productivity approach focuses equally on the human and social input and output to measure productivity. Organizational behavior decisions typically involve human, social, and/or economic issues, and so productivity.

For example, better organizational behavior improves job satisfaction as a human output or benefit. Similarly, if employee development programs say, meditation and stress management training lead to improving the citizenship responsibility towards the community, then social output occurs.

3. Interactionalism approach: Interactionalism approach assumes that individual behavior results from a continuous and multidirectional interaction between characteristics of the person and of the situation. It is a relatively new approach to understanding behavior in organizational settings. Under this approach, attempts are made to explain how people select, interpret, and change various situations. It should be noted that the individual and the situation are presumed to interact continuously.

Contextual Perspective of Organizational Behavior (OB)

4. Contingency approach: The contingency approach, also called the situational approach is based on the premise that no one method or behavior effectively works in different situations. This approach suggests that most organizations’ situations and outcomes are contingent on, or influenced by, other variables.

The contingency approach to OB refuses the universal approach i.e. one best way universally applicable. The universal, model presumes a direct cause and effect linkage between variables as shown in the figure below. For instance, under the universal model, to increase employee satisfaction, only one variable say the salary of employees needs to be increased. The contingency approach, on the other hand, acknowledges several other variables like leadership style, personal growth, working environment, peer relationship, etc. In other words, the appropriate managerial action or behavior in any given situation depends on the elements of that situation.

Contextual Perspective of Organizational Behavior (OB)

5. Systems approach: Systems approach to OB assumes the organization as a unified, purposeful system composed of interrelated parts. It suggests taking the organization as a whole person, whole group, and the whole social system. The system approach creates the synergy effect on the behavior outcome by means of integrated subsystems into a whole system.

The system approach thus assumes the input-transformation-outputs-feedback mechanism in influencing the organizational behavior. It consists of the following elements and each element creates synergy. Managers need to work out to analyze the organizational environment and mobilize it.

Contextual Perspective of Organizational Behavior (OB)

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