Wolves relation to concepts of effective organisational behaviour


Organisational behaviour, commonly referred to as OB, is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to create a better understanding within the work place. Part of this understanding will be to manage people at work. According to the definition provided by Kreitner and Kinicki (1998), OB consists out of 3 levels: the individual, the group and the organisation, and the operation that occurs on all levels and that act as a whole. It is a horizontal discipline that links every job category, professional specialty and business function. The definition by Ivancevich and Matteson (1999) found and states that organisational behaviour is a study of human behaviour, attitudes and performance within an organization's setting; drawing on theory, methods, and principles form such disciplines as psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology to learn about an individual's perceptions, values, learning capacities, and actions while working in groups and within the total organization; analyzing the external environments effect on the organisation's and its human resources, missions, objectives and strategies. Organisational behaviour there for is individual behaviour and group dynamics in organisations affected by organisational variables e.g. jobs, the design of work, communication, performance appraisals, etc.

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In light of the above said, the next few pages will be spend on the comparison done between animal (wolve) behaviour and human behaviour within the organisation/wolve pack and how do wolves relate to the concept and practice of effective organisational behaviour.

The following approach was used to address the above:

"The individual within the organization" vs "The wolf in the pack"


Demographic factors

Abilities & Skills Attitudes Perceptions

Personality (incl EQ)

Individual Influences on behavior Wolf

Analysis on the individual within the organisation:

Individual differences are very important when studying organisational behaviour as it has a direct influence on behaviour. Each individual brings his or her own set of demographic factors, abilities and skills, perceptions, attitudes and personality to the workplace. Demographic factors like level, age, race, gender, sex and cultural diversity directly impacts on behaviour. A perception that exists for example is that male managers are better managers than female managers. Abilities and skills are characteristics such as spatial orientation, eye-hand coordination and numerical facility. Attitudes are mental state of learning through experience and this influences a person's response to other people, objects and situations. Personality consists of feelings and behaviours that have been formed by genetic and or environmental factors. Your personality is a product of both nature and nurture. According to Cherniss & Goleman (2001), if one deeply looks at any factor that influences organisational effectiveness, you will find that emotional intelligence plays a role within each individual.

Analysis on the individual behavior of a wolf:

Wolves relates well to the concept of demographics. The level of the female for instance within a pack will determine if she can "appoint" a baby sitter, usually only the Alpha female has these privileges. On personality, alpha pairs tend to be monogamous and will mate for life. Wolves have the following outstanding abilities and skills: a great sense of smell that can detect pray or alarms them that their enemy is near. Wolves have an extra web between their toes for snow walking. They can also travel great distances covering up to 200 km in 48 hours. (Researched by the Lups Foundation) Wolf's eyes have an extra lense for night vision. Under threat wolves can purge their stomach contents to make their bodies lighter for flight. Wolves "natural" attitude prefers psychological warfare to physical confrontations. Personality and attitude are more valued than physical size or strength.

" Group behaviour of humans" vs "Behaviour of wolves in packs"

According to Nelson & Quick (2006), two or more people with common interests, objectives and continuing interaction is known as a group. Group cohesion is the "interpersonal glue" that makes the members of a group to stick together. In order to understand group behaviour better, the following characteristics will be explained in more detail.



Groups can be homogeneous (the same) or heterogeneous (different). Statistical estimates of a group size to be optimum, it needs to range from between 3 to 13. (Mathematical modeling approach) Currently no hard-and-fast rule about group size. If high quality decisions need to be taken, a smaller group between 3 and 5 proofed to be more appropriate.

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Wolves belong to a family group which is called a pack. It can differ between 8 to 15 members.

Status hierarchy


The status assigned to a specific position or job differentiates positions from one another. Age and seniority plays a role as well.


The leaders are known as the Alpha male and female. Lowest ranking is the Omega. In larger packs there might be a second in command, known as the Beta.



Each position in the organisation determines the behaviours that are expected from such a position. The director of an organisation and the cleaner will in fact differ hugely.


Rank and gender will determine the role within the pack.



Norms are the standards set by the group. In work groups, productivity is the most common. Danger is norm conformity in groups (a person with skill and capability is performing below his or her capacity so that the group norms are not violated.) Research done by Lord, Kklimoski and Kanfer (2002) revealed that emotions can influence organisational behavior as individuals learn

and exhibit norms and rules for feeling and displaying of emotions


Pack has set no fixed set of norms, alpha male and female usually determines what the standard will be.



Leader is leading the group which gives the leader a sense of power. This kind of power can be used to either punish or reward.


Although Alpha male and female is the "leaders" of the pack, they only have the most freedom and do not lead the pack per se.



Cohesiveness is the force that keeps groups together. Ivancevich & Matteson (1999) identified the following numerous sources of attraction to a group: (a) the goals of the group and the members compatibility; (b) if the group's leader is charismatic; (c ) the reputation of the group; (d) if opinions are heard and (e) if members are supportive to one another. Performance will depend if the group goals has met the organisational goals.


Cohesiveness is high except where the Omega (lone wolf) is driven out of the pack. All the wolves in the pack assist to raise the Alpha pair pups. Usually females (mature) will stay in group to help with the raise of pups. They defend their territory and will work as a pack to harass larger animals.

Below is a schematically comparison done to illustrate the many ways in which animal (wolf) behaviour relates to human behaviour.

Group Behaviour


Human (Work)

Wolves (Packs)


Homogenous or Heterogeneous


Size: from 3 to 13

Size: 8 to 15

Status hierarchy


Alpha male and female (leaders)


Beta - second in command


Omega - lowest ranking


Position determines role

Family (pack) determines roles by rank and gender


Standard set by members e.g.productivity

No set norms, alpha male and female


determines activity


Power to reward or punish

No definite leadership


Determined by attraction to a group

High except for Omega wolf that may leave pack

3."Organisational structure & design , culture, leadership and communication" vs "Structure, ranking order and communication within wolf packs"

A. Organisational structure & design , culture, leadership and communication

According to Robbins, Odendaal & Roodt (2003) organisational structure defines how jobs and tasks will be divided, grouped and divided. The 6 key elements that managers need to focus on are: (1) work specialization; (2) departmentalization; (3) chain of command; (4) span of control; (5) centralization & decentralization and (6) formalization.

Commonly, the most common organisational designs found in use are:

simple structure ("flat organisation", only two or three levels and one individual to which the decision making authority centralized.)

the bureaucracy (standardisation and rely on standardised work processes for decision


(3) matrix structure (combines two forms of departmentalisation: functional and product)

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In a structure, the strategy and goals will influence the structure that will be used.

The definition of organisational culture as defined by Nelson & Quick (2006) is a pattern of basic assumptions that are considered valid and that are taught to new members as the way to perceive, think and feel in the organisation. The symbols of culture that are most visible and accessible are called artifacts. Rituals are part of everyday organisational practices. Values are the second and deeper level of a culture. An organisational culture with a consensus on the values that drive the company and with an intensity that is recognisable will be recognised even by outsiders.

Leadership in any organisation will influence the shaping and reinforcement of culture. The five most important elements in managing culture are: (1) what leaders pay attention to; (2) how leaders react to crises; (3) how leader behave; (4) how leaders allocate rewards and (5) how leaders hire and fire individuals.

Communication is the evoking of a shared or common meaning in another person. The message that will be communicated will contain the thoughts and feelings that the communicator is attempting to carry over to the receiver. Language is the words and methods of combining them used and understood by a group of people. According to Ivancevich & Matteson (1999) organizations should provide for communication in four distinct directions:

downward (communication flow downward from individuals in higher levels of the hierarchy to those in lower levels)

upward (lower levels communicate to upper levels)

horizontal (peer-to-peer communication)

diagonal (when communication cannot happen through the above three levels)

To conclude, the organisations base rests on management's philosophy, values, vision and goals. This in turn drives the organisational culture which is composed of the formal organisation, informal organisation and the social environment. The culture determines the type of leadership, communication and group dynamics within the organisation. The workers perceive this as a quality of work life which directs their degree of motivation. The final outcome is performance, individual satisfaction, and personal growth and development. All these elements combine the model or framework that the organisations operate from.

B."Structure, ranking order and communication within wolf packs"

According to research done by the Lupus Foundation, the wolf pack hierarchy is a very strict social order. The leaders are known as the Alpha (male and female). The dominance is communicated by posture and vocally. (A straight tail - bared teeth-deep growls) The Lowest ranking wolf is called as the Omega (male and female). The Omega wolf serves an important purpose by absorbing the packs aggression thereby maintaining balance within the pack. The submissive position is displayed by means of body language. (Ears back-head down-tail between the legs-or a raised leg to expose the stomach and genitalia.)

The Alpha male and female pair for life and breeding is usually confined to the Alpha pair only. Female wolves become sexually mature during the 2nd year. Male wolves become sexually mature during their 3rd year. Gestation usually takes 63 days but can vary up to four days. The size of the litter is related to the size of the wolf population in the local area, the amount of prey available and other environmental stresses. Litters range in size from 3-12 young with an average litter size being 6 pups. The female usually burrows into a mound to create a den when having her pups. The Alpha female appoints one of the lesser females to become the "babysitter" when she is not in attendance. The "baby sitter" will also lactate in order to feed the pups. The pack feeds their pups and their aged family by regurgitating food.

Communication by wolves is done in many ways:

From an early age they establish dominance by growling.

They are quite vocal as they whimper and whine in hunger, pain or to attract attention.

They communicate by means of body language - ears, nose, teeth and tail.

Each wolves howl is its own distinctive howl.

They occasionally barks as domestic dogs do.

Howling serves as identification of the packs whereabouts and serves to avoid aggression between packs and helps to demarcate territories.

Lone male wolves have a deep mournful howl and can last for hours and heard up to 25 km away. Wolves communicate with each other more by harmony and integration than by aggression and submission.


As can be seen by the comparisons done, there is a clear distinction between the behaviour of wolves and humans beings. Wolfs relates well to the concept of organisation behaviour.

On the human side, it became clear that the key players in any organisation have major differences whose participation and collaboration would be crucial and essential to pull of any strategy. The differences mainly were based on personality characteristics etc. People want to be an active part of any organisation and they want to be part of a team. They want joint accountabilities, responsibility and rewards.

According to the David Maister (2007), you have different preferences of individuals when it comes to strategy and the implementation there of. Type 1 is the solo operator, who values interdepence and who want to make little investment into the future but is willing to on his/her ability to catch fresh meach each and every day. They have the Mountain Lion approach "Pay me for what I can do today (or this year).

Type 2 is the individual who want and prefers to act in collaboration with others and does not like to invest too much. These people are collectively called the Wolf pack. "If we act together we can kill bigger animal,s but it had better pay off soon or I an joing another Pack!"

Type 3 it the individual who wants to be independent , but is interested in building for the future by investig time and resources to get somewhere new. They are called the Beavers building dams to provide for there family. Type 4 are the individauls who want to be part of something bitter that they can accomplish on their own and have the ambition, patience and the will to help the organisation to invest in the future. They are called the Ant community or Beehive, where individuals slave for the benefit of the community.