Welcome to Professor Beers' Course, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR
Organizational behavior is the only course you will take that will be relevant to you no matter what your chosen field of endeavor. Accountants may not need to understand the principles of operations management but they do need to motivate workers. Engineers may not need to understand finance, but they need to be able to work in teams. And so forth. The organizational behavior concepts we discuss this term will be relevant no matter what you do for a living and will remain relevant throughout your careers.
This course will examine the characteristics and conduct of and within contemporary business organizations. Organizations will be examined at the macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis:
Macro - At the macro level, we examine the characteristics of organizations themselves. We will spend most of our time learning about how organizations structure themselves and when and why different structural types are preferred. We also look at how work is structured and the implications of those choices as well as organizational culture.
Meso – At the meso, or intermediate, level of analysis, we will learn about the behavior of and in groups. The groups can range in size from large, permanent functional departments, such as the human resources function, or small temporary groups that come together and disband after they (hopefully!) complete their assigned task.
Micro – Finally, at the micro level, we will look at the role of the individual in organizations – what motivates them, how they learn and behave in different situations.
Through the course of the term, I will be presenting a series of frameworks, typologies, concepts, and theories. The purpose of these constructs is to provide you with different ways of understanding organizational phenomena. This will also serve to increase your business literacy.
There are three levels of understanding or comprehension of the material in the course. These levels do not correspond to the three levels of analysis listed above.
Memorization – The bare minimum is for you to understand and remember the material that is presented. In the context of an exam, this means giving correct answers to simple questions of the “Name the three…?” or “What are the…?” variety.
Application – Memorization and a rudimentary understanding of OB concepts and frameworks are necessary but insufficient aspects of subject matter mastery. It is important to be able to recognize real world examples of the phenomena we discuss in class and to be able to use the frameworks and concepts in real world situations (or at least be able to say how they would inform your decisions if you were in such a situation).
Integrative thinking – Fritz Roethlisberger (a famous OB professor from Harvard Business School) once said that practitioners (managers) should use the concepts and frameworks of the field of organizational behavior as “walking sticks,” – crude, useful tools to assist individuals as they negotiate the terrain of their professional lives. Most notably (especially from a professor of OB), he said that once any particular walk stick lost its usefulness, it should be discarded for another more suitable to the task at hand. I like this metaphor and will offer one of my own. And the end of the term you will have a tool box (your brain) with an assortment of tools (OB concepts). Different tools will be useful for different tasks. Some situations will require the novel use of multiple tools. Different people may approach the same problem employing different tools. The goal is to be able to mix and match – to integrate – the concepts you’ve learned in a way that best fits your situation.
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