Approaches to the study of organizational behaviors

There are various approaches to the study of organizational behaviors. These approaches are as follows:

  • Traditional approach
  • The contingency approach
  • A system approach


Based on the traditional approach, there are various sub approaches to the study of organizational behaviors namely:

  • Scientific management
  • Bureaucracy
  • Human relation

Scientific management

F.W Taylor advocated scientific management; he believed that tools, method and procedure could be scientifically designed to produce order, efficiency and work flow in organization.

He advocated that scientific method could be used to select and train employees to fill positions in organization.

He postulated that scientific method could be used to determine both fair days pay which will eventually remove the basis for most industrial dispute in organization.


Bureaucracy was advocated by Max Webber, Taylor postulated that science is the corner stone of industrial governance at workplace; Max Webber advocated that organization is a place where people are selected/employed on the basis of merit, in which subordinate office holders are governed by defined policies, procedures and rules.

Human relation

In the early 20’s, managers and scholars discovered that human being/ workers were regarded as machines, tools, commodity and above all economic man. In other word, man was only good as an instrument for production.

They argued that organization has lost sight of the human needs for belonging, social interaction and the feeling of importance.

The human relation management dethroned the economic man and installed social man in his place. The human relation approach, however did not challenge any of the basic tenet of traditional management thought rather it accepted existing organizational structure and job design as given and went ahead to humanize the existing structure and job design with some degree of members participation in certain decision making and supportive supervision.


The human relation approach argue that all workers were desirous of self actualization on the job and that participative management was uniform approach, it’s of the view that the management techniques that best contributes to the attainment of organizational goals might vary in different types of situation and circumstances.


A system is essentially a set of things inter-connected or interdependent so as to form a complex unit. A system could be described as a collection of inter related part which form some whole.

System is also defined as any series of inter connected element forming an organized or organic whole with a common objective. It is also a set of inter dependent parts which together form a unitary whole that perform some functions.

These things may be physical as with the parts of automobile engine or they maybe biological, as with component of human body or they may be natural as with the solar system or they maybe theoretical as with a well integrated assemblage of concepts, principles, theory and techniques in an area such as managing.

All system except perhaps the universe, interact with and are influenced by their environment. The system approach explicitly acknowledges the great variability among people, task and environment and these factors are constantly changing.

Every system is made up of sub system and the system function effectively. Hence the approach is sometimes called situational approach.

In contingency approach, the manager task is to identify which techniques would at a particular situation under a particular circumstance and at a particular time, best contribute to the attainment of management goals.

In this approach one cannot advocate the same degree of self direction and self control across all types of techniques. For instance, a situation may call for application of theory “X” and not theory “Y”, whereas others may call MBO (management of objectives) as a techniques which others may call for automatic management style.

The manager trained into contingency approach will ask which method will be best for him; such a manger would equally be concerned with how well a particular solution would fit in with the structures, resources and goals of the organization.

In summary, as organizational behavior is concerned with developing people skills, it specifically helps one to explain, predict and control human behavior.

To understand individual behaviors at work, one needs to ascertain the major psychological contributions to organizational behavior. There are values, attitude, personality, perception and learning.

These psychological contributions are the sub system of human behavior, for instance, values as element of shared symbolic system are very important to the study of organizational behavior because they lay the foundation for the understanding of attitude, perception, personality and motivation. Values generally influence behavior.


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