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Organizational Behavior

Chapter 14 focuses on leadership, in particular with reference to organizational change and other challenging leadership situations. The initial section covers more leadership theories -- authentic leadership, which focuses on positive psychology elements such as self-efficacy, optimism and resilience. Spiritual leadership is introduced, and this concept reflects on leaders who rely on religion as a guiding and influencing force in their organizations. Servant leadership is a concept where the leader seeks to provide the workers with the support that they need to do their jobs -- the leader is serving the employees, because they will be doing the heavy lifting in the organization.

Ethical leadership cuts across all leadership theories, but the important takeaway is that the leader is the ethical compass for the organization. Setting clear ethical standards, and then upholding them, is the role of an ethical leader. In smaller work groups, leadership is sometimes shared. Work teams can emphasize collaboration, or using leaders who each have a unique (and preferably complementary) leadership style. Decision-making can even be shared in nature.

The chapter also discusses the role of leadership in the global workplace. Different cultures have conceptualized leadership differently. The GLOBE is a body that identifies leadership dimensions and nine cultural dimensions (p.328), and then evaluates different countries based on these. They have identified specific societal clusters based on the leadership dimensions most in evidence. Some aspects of leadership are universal, while others are more culture-specific.

Organizational change is a significant challenge for leaders. Leaders are needed at all times for an organization -- stability, crisis, dynamic equilibrium, and "near the edge of chaos," but the ideal leadership style might be quite different for each of these. Transformational change is one of the most celebrated tasks of leadership. Often coming from the edge of chaos, where there is motivation for change, a leader can alter the resources, the communications, the culture and other aspects of an organization in order to dramatically alter its strategic approach. Sometimes this is planned, other times it is forced upon the organization, but either way a transformation leader has to be able to guide the organization through a crisis with a vision that the organization buys into. This means having change targets and strategies to reach those targets.

The chapter covers a number of different change strategies. Force-coercion "uses authority, rewards and punishments" to force the change through (p.338). This change strategy is usually something that has been planned. A good example might be when a board brings in a new CEO who is essentially a "hatchet man," cutting the workforce, restructuring and otherwise ramming home a number of other changes to force change upon the organization. Rational persuasion is a rather softer version of this, where the leader is able to explain to the organization the need for the change, and get buy-in as a critical element of the change.

Resistance to change is a common thing for leaders to have to overcome. Resistance comes from anything from rational analysis to fear of the unknown. Sometimes it is more resistance to the messenger than tot the actual message. Sometimes resistance can be overcome with education and explanation, but in other situations there may need to be some negotiation with the people who are doing the resisting . The change agent should not assume that people only resist change for irrational, emotional reasons -- it is best to listen in order to diagnose the issue.

Chapter 15 Summary

Chapter 15 discusses organizational culture and the role it plays in fostering innovation. The text defines organizational culture as "the system of shared actions, values and beliefs that develops within an organization." Culture is something that helps provide context for what the organization does, and how it does it. Culture is thus an integral part of the organization. Internally, culture is used to create a "collective identity" the same as any other cultural group would have. Within an organizational culture, there might be subcultures, especially for certain departments and work teams. There may even be countercultures, though these are often less prevalent than in society at large, because of the active role that management plays in fostering the organizational culture.

One of the interesting elements of organizational culture is where it interplays with national culture. In the globalized business, individuals can belong to many distinctive cultures, but the organizational culture provides a cultural basis for the norms of behavior in the organization, regardless of whatever external cultures there might be. A firm can value diversity while still having a common organizational culture -- indeed a firm should have a strong enough organizational culture that not too many elements of external cultures make their way into the organization.

Stepping back a bit, the book explains what culture is and what it looks like. There is observable culture, which is what we see and hear -- so anything from the way people dress to the food that they eat, would be observable, tangible elements of a culture. Then there are the beliefs systems, rituals, and stories -- the intangible elements of culture. There are also rules and roles, so all of these are elements of the culture that govern how people function within that culture, their behavioral norms, and the structures and hierarchies that exist within that society.

For an organization, it is important that the organizational culture contains all of these elements. Many companies will have outward manifestations of culture, but they will also will create organizational myths and lore that are learning moments for the people within the organization. A service-oriented organization might have myths that focus on people who went out of their way to deliver superior service, in order to pass on that value. Another organization's heroes might be innovators, in order to highlight the importance of that in the culture. Such myths not only become part of the common dialogue within the organization, but they also establish norms of behavior, hint at rewards systems.

But there are other kinds of myths as well, ones that are held to be true when they simply are not. The text sort of jumbles the idea of a myth in the OB context -- organizational myths do not need to be unproven or accepted uncritically. They just need to be established lore that promotes aspects of the organizational culture.

The second part of the chapter switches focus, towards innovation. The process of innovation is idea creation, initial experimentation, feasibility determination and final application. The first part is one of most difficult, and an area where organizational culture can play a significant role, in promoting free flowing thought. But the other areas are where innovation can be stifled in a firm, if the culture has too much bureaucracy or too much risk aversion. Innovations can be new products, new services, or new processes. A new process is "exploitation" while new products/services are "exploration."

An organizational culture can play an important role in innovation. Management needs to not only encourage creativity, in part by removing barriers to communication flows, but it also needs to create an environment where new ideas can gain traction, be tested, and brought to market. Rewards systems often play a significant role in fostering innovation.

Chapter 16 Summary

This chapter discusses organizational goals, and the role that structures and workflow play in helping the organization to meet its goals. The mission statement is often the starting point for expressing the organization's goals, because it provides an overview of what the organization hopes to accomplish by virtue of its existence. From there, leadership of the organization can operationalize the mission statement into different types and levels of individual goals -- output goals, systems goals. So what does the organization do, and what systems need to be in place to allow it to do that.

Structurally, all organizations have some sort of hierarchy. There are some very flat organizations, but even they have a little bit of hierarchy. An organizational chart is a visual aid that outlines the structure of an organization. There are both line and staff units under a traditional org chart. This way of thinking has line positions being conceptualized as direct contributors to organizational wealth, and staff positions as supporting the line positions. It should be noted that these distinctions are somewhat archaic. The span of control reflects what each unit does within the organization, and the same concept is applied to each individual supervisor as well. Control reflects getting the people within the organization to perform specific tasks. A bureaucracy is how the elements of organizing resources and tasks, and establishing controls, is done within an organization. A mechanistic bureaucracy is heavily formalized, an organic bureaucracy is a less formalized form, where members have more informal authority and are relied upon to perform bureaucratic tasks in an ad hoc manner.

Output controls are those that "focus on desired targets" -- managers find different combinations of structure, resource allocation and incentivization to direct the outputs of the organization. Usually output… [END OF PREVIEW]

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