Organization Behavior and Culture


Organizational culture refers to the shared beliefs, perceptions, or values that are held by members of an organizational unit or an organization (Tsai, 2011). Conversely, organizational behavior entails the studying of human behavior within organizational settings, the organization itself and the interface between the organization and human behavior (Wagner and Hollenbeck, 2014). Since organizational culture is a reflection of the behavioral norms, beliefs, and values that are embraced by an organization’s employees to provide meaning to the circumstances that they are faced with, it can impact the behavior and attitude of the staff (Tsai, 2011). The culture of any given company is formed and upheld by its staff, most importantly by the senior management and founders, based on various influencing factors that are both internal and external. Besides, the staff is the ones capable of changing and transforming the culture when they perceive that those actions are essential with regards to the current situation that the organization is in. In most cases, organizational culture is often underestimated despite the fact that it is the more influential force as compared to other sets of internal procedure and rules applicable to an organization’s members. Various studies have found that an organization’s culture has a significant effect in the manner that an organization solves questions and problems, sets strategy and establishes structures that govern the relationships and work activities of staff, and lastly, how employees behave when doing their activities within the organization.

Despite there being a wide recognition of the significance of organizational culture, the subject remains difficult and complex. Therefore, there is a need for conducting a thorough review and analysis to determine the crucial cultural norms and values and determine how they influence the behavior of employees and managers. No particular culture is collectively suitable for every organization, and there is evidently considerable diversity with regards to the main cultural attributes among organizations that are successful and effective. This paper intends to discuss how different factors within an organizational culture influence organizational behavior. To do so, the paper will discuss the components of an organizational culture then proceed to discuss how the Hawthorne studies particularly contribute to the study of organizational behavior. The Hawthorne studies will further be compared with other two behavioral studies to determine the similarities and differences in their findings.

Components of organization culture

The components of a given organizational culture can be determined through searching for evidence of how an organization has addressed key issues and difficulties associated with both internal integration and external adaptation (Schein, 1983). Several diverse elements form the organizational culture. The most general and abstract components are “values” (Tureac, 2010). These components describe the anticipated outcome or state that the organization’s leaders wish to attain through the organization’s employees activities. The second component of organizational culture are “norms” (Tureac, 2010). These are the set standards of conduct or rules of behavior that are adopted by an organization to manage the behavior of its staff. Both the informal and formal norms affect the predictability and orderliness of an organization’s daily activities and are obtained through numerous socializing processes. Besides, norms lead to the creation of strong bonds in an organization and employees are likely to feel great shame or guilt in case they breach their obligations (Tureac, 2010). The last component of organizational culture is “cultural forms.” Cultural forms consist of symbols, gestures, myths and stories, language, rites and rituals, physical surroundings and artifacts. Such cultural forms are used by organizations as linking mechanisms to establish networks of understanding among employees and communicate the principal cultural norms and values of the organization. Together, such components offer guidelines, which ease the burden on employees as they fulfill their activities in the organization.

The Hawthorne Studies

The Hawthorne studies were carried out by Fredrick Roethlisberger and Elton Mayo on the employees of Western Electric Plant working in the Hawthorne Plant as from 1924 to 1933. These studies played a vital role in the development of Organizational Behavior since they demonstrated the significant impact of human factors on the productivity of workers. It was through the experiments carried out in these studies that the identification of the Hawthorne effect was possible. The Hawthorne effect refers to the bias, which happens when individuals are aware that they are subjects of research (Wickström & Bendix, 2000).

The studies assumed that members of an organization have psychological and social needs, together with financial and economic needs that have to be met to generate the motivation to finish their allocated tasks. This management theory was as a result of the problems that emerged from the traditional scientific approaches to management such as Taylorism (Wickström & Bendix, 2000). The Hawthorne studies found out that the work performance of members of an organization relies on job satisfaction and social issues. They also discovered that good working conditions and monetary incentives are less significant in the improvement of workers productivity than satisfying individual’s desire and need to be in work, participate in decision making and to belong to a group.

Comparison of findings of Hawthorne studies and other studies.

McGregor’s Theory X and Y

Another substantial influence in the development of organizational behavior studies came from the two theories proposed by Douglas McGregor (Kopelman, Prottas, & Falk, 2010). These theories were proposed for purposes of guiding managers on how to motivate employees. Furthermore, these two theories are regarded as a clear articulation of the rudimentary assumptions of an organizational behavior perspective. This is because the two theories provided ways of thinking and viewing individuals, which, in turn, influence their behavior. The theory X assumes that workers are not intelligent and are lazy. Therefore, they have to be closely monitored since they lack the desire for responsibility, possess little creative ability in solving organizational challenges, will fight change. Conversely, theory Y assumed that workers are competent and creative; they desire to contribute, they desire to participate in leadership functions and decision-making, they desire meaningful work (Kopelman, Prottas, & Falk, 2010).

These two theories are similar to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs since they view motivation and human behavior as the vital elements in maximizing output (Kopelman, Prottas, & Falk, 2010). According to McGregor, to enable employees to attain happiness and maximum efficiency at work, theory Y should be adopted. This would mean that there would be a need to promote, creativity, morality, lack of prejudice and problem-solving

Argyris’s theory of single-loop and double-loop learning

Argyris, unlike Hawthorne studies, focused on studying how people develop and decide what actions to take under stressful or difficult situations (Argyris, 2005). Argyris perceived that such actions are influenced by environmental variables that determine the major differences between double-loop learning and single-loop learning. Under double-loop learning, organizations, groups or people question the policies, assumptions, and values that resulted in the actions in the first place. Conversely, under single-loop learning, they modify their actions based on the variation between obtained and expected outcomes (Argyris, 2005).


Over the years, a lot of theories and studies have been proposed to give explanations of the developmental changes that individuals undergo. Such theories tend to differ in the human nature conceptions they implement and in what they assume to be the fundamental mechanisms and causes of human behavior and motivation. Nonetheless, the studies and theories discussed in this text illustrate some similarities in their conclusions. They all tend to agree that an organization’s culture has a significant effect organizational behavior. Although, such influence should be impacted by norms, values, and cultural forms.

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