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Organizational Culture and Climate

CHAPTER II

CONCEPT OF THE ORGANISATIONAL BEHAVIOUR ,CULTURE AND CLIMATE AND ITS IMPACT ON THE ORGANISATION

Organizations combine science and people- technology and humanity. Not only technology is difficult to cope by itself, but also adding people to it becomes an immensely complex social system. Within an organization itself, the social system is all the people in it as they relate to each other and to the world outside. The people and the organizations might have some conflict but they live in some degree of mutual interest and harmony. There is a mutual social transaction in which each benefits the other. Individuals use organizations as instruments to achieve their goals just as much organizations use people to reach objectives.

There is no idealistic solution to organizational problems; all that can be done is to enhance our understanding and skills so that human relationships at work can be upgraded. Organisations are a universal and pervasive phenomenon manifest in all aspects of human life in different forms. A common thread that runs through all organisations is that they are aggregates of people, and that they have a common purpose. The examination of some definitions will help in appreciating the various facets of organisations.

Concept of Organization

There are hundreds of definitions of the concept of organization in the management, psychological, and social and sociological literatures and these definitions are being constantly updated and revised. Some of the definitions of organization are as follows:

(a) “Organization is a social group in which the members are differentiated as to their responsibilities for their task of achieving a common goal” (Stogdill 1950).

(b) “ Organization is a short hand expression for the integrated aggregation of those persons who are primarily involved in the managing risk and uncertainty- bearing, planning and innovation, co-ordination, administration and control, and routine supervision of an enterprise” ( Harbinson 1959).

(c) An organisation is a rational coordination of a number of people for the achievement of some common explicit purpose or goal through a division of labour and function through a hierarchy of authority and responsibility[i]

(d) Organisations are human groupings deliberately constructed and reconstructed to meet specific goals[ii]

(e) Organisations are physical arrangement of people in various roles for meeting organisational objective.[iii]

Common element that runs through these definitions include the fact that organizations involve : -

(a) Identifiable aggregation of human beings or Individuals banding together to form a group.

(b) An organizational goal or the pursuit of a common goal or goals.

(c) Coordination of activities with a belief that the group can achieve what an individual cannot.

(d) More or less clearly defined responsibilities for its members.

(e) Structure or system for coordination.

A current concept which leads to better understanding of organisations is to view them as ‘systems' existing in the environment. The systems are separate from the environment but their boundaries are permeable, permitting the influence of the environment to act on the system and also enable the outputs of the system to flow into the environment. Every system is composed of a number of sub-systems which interact with and influence each other and also with the larger system, which is their environment. In the services for example, the army is a system with commands as sub-systems. Each of the commands has its own sub-systems such as corps and divisions, forming a hierarchy of systems. Another way of looking at the sub-systems is to classify them by distinct aspects of the functions in organizations for example, human, economic, technical, and so on.

Organisations vary in their sensitiveness to the environment. This depends on how open or closed they are to the external influences which impinge on them from the environment However, organisations are neither fully closed nor fully open and the degree of closure/openness determines their characteristics, as described below :-

(a) Closed System Organisation[iv]. These are not affected by environmental influences and are designed for the pursuit of clearly specified goals. Organisational arrangements and decisions are geared to goal achievement and are directed towards making the organisation more and more rational and mechanical in the pursuit of its goals. They are characterised by rigid rules, procedures, hierarchical structures and tasks. Such systems are very stable and usually efficient. But, as they are closed from the environment, they have little adaptability and flexibility. Bureaucratic systems are typical closed systems.

(b) Open System Organisations. These are systems that consider the environment as a reality. The goals of such organisations emerge as adaptive responses from the influences of the environment. They are not rigid and do not have a strong hierarchical structure. The various parts or sub-systems of the organisation are interdependent; changes in one causing important influences on the other. Such systems are highly adaptive and flexible but are usually low in efficiency. Research and development organisations are usually typical open establishments.

Concept of Organizational Behavior

Organisational Behavior can be defined as the understanding, prediction and management of human behavior in the organizations.[v] The human behavior in the oraganisation is determined partly by the requirements of the formal organization and partly by the personal system of the individuals forming the organization. The organizational Behavior can also be defined as the field of study that investigates the impact the individuals , groups and the structure have on the behavior in the organizations for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving an organisation's effectiveness. The relationship between the individuals , organization and the working environment is shown below :-

Organisational Participants

Organisational Behavior Organisational Environment

The key elements in organizational behavior are people, structure, technology, and the environment in which the organization operates. When people join together in an organization to accomplish an objective, some kind of structure is required. People also use technology to help get the job done, so there is an interaction of people, structure, and technology. In addition, these elements are influenced by the external environment and they influence it.

(a) People. People make up the internal social system of the organization. They consist of individual groups, large groups as well as small ones. They may be unofficial, informal groups or official, formal ones. Groups are dynamic. They form, change, and disband. The Human organizations today are not the same as it was yesterday, or the day before. People are living, thinking, feeling beings that created the organization to achieve their objectives.

(b) Structure. Structure defines the official relationships of people in the organizations. Different jobs are required to accomplish all of an organization's activities. The people who perform these jobs have to be related in some structural way so that their work can be effective. These relationships create complex problems of cooperation, negotiations, and decision making.

(c) Technology. Technology provides the resources with which people work and it affects the task that they perform. The great benefit of technology is that it allows people to do more and better work, but it also restricts people in various ways.

(d) Environment. All organizations operate within an external environment. A single operation does not exist alone. It is part of a larger system that contains many other elements. The environment in which an organization operates influences the attitude of people, affects working conditions, and provides competition for resources and power.

Concepts Dealing With an Individual.[vi]

There are four concepts dealing with the nature of an individual in the Organizational Behavior :-

(a) Individual Differences. Every individual has a different gift of nature, different quantity of intelligence and different way of behavior. When it comes to human behavior there cannot be a prescriptive solution. This concept tells a manager that every person should be treated as an entity and should not be stereotyped just because he belongs to a group.

(b) Whole Person. When it comes to analyzing the behavioural problems the manger should take into account all the roles an individual is playing in the organization.

(c) Motivation. The manager by his own behavior can influence an employee and can cause him to behave in a particular way.

(d) Human Dignity. This concept is more on an ethical philosophy. Every person in an organization wants to be treated with respect and is engaged in the same pursuit.

Models of Organisational Behavior[vii].

There are four recognizable models of the organizational behavior. These are tabulated as below :-

Autocratic

Custodial

Supportive

Collegial

Model Depends Upon

Power

Economic resources

Leadership

Partnership

Managerial Orientation

Authority

Money

Support

Teamwork

Employee Orientation

Obedience

Security

Job Performance

Responsibility

Employee Psychological Result

Dependence on Boss

Dependence on organisation

participation

Self discipline

Employee Needs Met

Subsistence

Maintenance

Higher order

Self actualisation

Performance Result

minimum

Passive cooperation

Awakened drives

Moderate enthusiasm,

Autocratic model was in existence at the time of industrial revolution . subsequently the thinking shifted to the custodial model which consisted of giving some sops, concessions and privileges to the employee to keep them happy. In both the autocratic and the custodial models the managers did not bother creating a conducive atmosphere for the employees. The supportive model emerged as a sequel to the human relations era. This model assumes that the employees have some skill and will contribute to the organization. Thus the manager is not the boss of the team but a leader of the team of employees entrusted under him to perform a particular job. Leader is responsible for creating an environment to utilize the skills and wills of the employees to contribute to the organizational effort. The collegial model is more applicable to the to scientific and professional employees where the role of the manager is changed to a partner in pursuit of the same objective as the employee.

Concept of Organizational Culture

Organisatinal culture is a pattern of beliefs and expectations shared by the members of the organization. These beliefs and expectations produce norms that powerfully shape the behavior of individuals and groups in the organization. The organizational culture includes[viii] :-

(a) Routine behavior when people interact.

(b) The norms that are shared by everyone in an organization.

(c) The dominant values held by the organization.

(d) The philosophy that guides the organization's policies.

(e) Climate in an organization.

(f) Rules in an organization.

Organizational Culture has the potential to enhance the organizational effectiveness , individual satisfaction and the sense of belonging to the organization. However if the organization culture gets out of step with the changing expectation of the stakeholders, the organization's effectiveness can be hindered. A strong culture facilitates goal alignment. As all employees have same basic values, therefore they agree on not only the goals but also the methods of achieving them too. Thus the energies of the employees is channeled in the same direction and the organization performance is better. A strong culture leads to high levels of employee motivation because a strong culture automatically attracts the people towards the organization.

A strong culture also enables an organization to learn from its past. The strong culture reinforces the consensus on the interpretation of issues and events based on the past experiences, provides precedents from the organization's history which help in deciding course of action to meet the new challenges.

Organisational culture exists on different levels that differ in terms of visibility and the resistance to change[ix]. The least visible or the deepest level is the basic shared assumptions which represent the beliefs about the organisation that needs to be run.

The next level of culture is the cultural values which represent the collective beliefs, assumptions and feelings about what things are good , normal , rational , valuable and so on. These values tend to persist over time when the organisational membership changes. The next level is that of the shared behaviors , including norms which are more visible and somewhat easier to change than the values. The most superficial level of oragnisational culture consists of the symbols. Culture symbols are the words , gestures and pictures or other physical objects that carry particular meaning to the culture.

Concept of Organizational Climate

The concept of organisational climate is derived from the atmospheric climate. Just as two places can be differentiated with reference to elements of atmospheric climate like temperature, humidity, etc, organisations also can be differentiated on the basis of organisation climate prevailing in them. There is evidence to show that there is a very close relationship between organizational climate, job satisfaction, performance of individuals and ultimately organisational effectiveness.

Organisation Climate[x] is a set of distinctive features that distinguish one organisation from another and influence the behavior of people. It may also be defined as behaviour, shared beliefs, and values that members have in organisation. It often sets the tone for the organisation and establishes implied rules for the way people should behave.

In every organisation, there exist certain elements which exert profound influence on the existing climate. These are :-

(a) Organisational Context .

The foremost factor is command/ management philosophy. Reactions of the members of the organisation on the degree to which they accept this philosophy is crucial to a good organisational climate.

The climate would be highly favourable, when existing command styles/management techniques are such that members' goals match those of the organization.

(b) Structure.

Nature of relationships, de-alienation of the hierarchy, centralised/decentralised decision making etc affect the climate of an organisation.

(c) Process.

Some of the vital processes in an oraganisation are communication, decision making and leadership. In all these processes the interface between the superior and the subordinate are visible and cannot be ignored.

(c) Physical Environment.

The external factors like safety, comfort and decor effect the organisational climate of an organisation.

(d) System Value and Norms.

Every organisation has discernable and fairly evident formal value system. The formal value system is communicated to the members through rules, regulations and policies. The informal organisations within also exert influence on values and consequently on climate.

Role of the Commander.

[xi] The most important, is the factor of leadership, especially so in the context of the defence services. Leaders especially the top leadership create the culture for the organisations. In the defence services, since all personnel are subject to the same rules, regulations ,. the commander is the greatest influence factor. He is responsible for creating, developing and sustaining a healthy organisational climate, in keeping with the stage of growth of his unit or formation. By his leadership example and decision making style, a commander can create a healthy organisation climate for his subordinates to function and develop.

[i] College of Defence Management Handbook Organisational Effectiveness. CDM Press, 1997,p.9.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid .pp 11-13.

[v] Fred Luthans. Organizational Behavior. Irwin-McGraw Hill, 1998,p.16.

[vi] A R Sapre. Organisational Behavior. Pune: Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning,2004,pp 16-17.

[vii] Ibid. pp 18-19.

[viii] Luthans. Op cit. pp 550.

[ix] Sapre. Op cit . pp 204.

[x] College of Defence Management Handbook. Op cit. pp 35-38.

[xi] Ibid . pp 36-39.

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