Definitions Of An Organisational Climate Satisfactiom Commerce Essay


Organisational climate sometimes may be confused with organisational culture but as seen in many sources of information, the two, although similar are defined differently although there have been arguments by past researchers on what organisational climate should actually be defined as. The similarity between climate and culture is that both concepts try to explain the impact of the organisation or the system on individuals

Forehand and Gilman, (1964) had one of the earliest definitions of organisational climate. They suggested that organisational climate consisted of a set of organisational characteristics that can be endured over time. These characteristics are found to be unique among different organisations and the employees' behaviour is influenced by it. Taguiri and Litwin (1968) agree with this definition however, they believe that the characteristics that are experienced by the organisations' employees can be measured.

A general definition of organisational climate according to Arnold, et al. (2005), concerns the employees' perceptions how their organisation functions. While this is a simple general definition, Mullins, et al. (2002), however explains it as the prevailing atmosphere surrounding the organisation, to the level of morale, and to the strength of feelings or belonging, care and goodwill among members which in other words, can result in a positive or negative impact. This definition goes into much more depth connecting climate to an employee's actual feelings. Decisions that management make may impact an employee's way feeling that their interests are management's top priority.

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Gregopolous (1963) had a different view of what organisational climate could be defined as. He defined organisational climate as a 'normative structure of attitudes and behavioural standards which provide a basis for interpreting the situation and act as a source of pressure for directing activities.' This would imply that management could possibly dictate and control its own climate level and therefore management can have an influence on certain situations involving staff to benefit them.

Organisations should strive for healthy organisational climates. Despite the numerous different definitions that exist by other researchers and scholars, organisational climate is generally concerned with what management should be focused on:



Appreciation and recognition

Concern for employee well-being

Learning and development

Citizenship and ethics

Quality performance

Involvement and empowerment


Mullins (2002) however says that 'organisational climate is characterised by the nature of the people-organisation relationship and the superior-subordinate relationship. These relationships are determined by the interactions among goals and objectives, formal structure, the process management, styles of leadership and the behaviour of people.'

2.2.2 Job Satisfaction

Locke (1976) p. 1304 defined job satisfaction as "a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experience." Schneider and Snyder (1975) p. 318 however, defined it as an employee's personal evaluations of the job conditions present or the outcomes that arise as a result of having a job. Organisational climate differs from job satisfaction because it refers to the entire organisation and its employees' perceptions of it, whilst job satisfaction relates to the individual employees feelings of their particular job.

Job satisfaction is seen as important because realistically the majority of the working public spends most of their time at work. People need their jobs so that they can pay for their various needs and wants i.e. food, clothing, telephone bills etc. This would be one of the main reasons people stay working at the organisation they are currently in. Employees who are not satisfied with their jobs can lead to high levels of absenteeism and high turnover (Rad & Yarmohammadian, 2006).

According to Alavi and Askaripur (2003), organisations should focus on increasing their employees' self esteem as a result this should increase the level of job satisfaction that exist. Organisational climate can be manifested in a diverse way in the general behaviour of the employees and the state of discipline at the workplace, the interest the employees take in their work, the frequency of irrelevant activities among them, their relation with each other and with their supervisors, their sense of personal freedom etc. (Singh, 2006. p.166)

Job satisfaction is seen to be related to job morale, both relate to employees' experience on the job. They are sometimes confused however, but they are different in meaning (Gruneberg, 1979; Locke, 1976). According to Gruneberg (1979) morale is concerned with the group wellbeing, whereas job satisfaction refers to the individual's emotional reactions to a particular job.

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Cranny et al (1972) suggest that most authors that define job satisfaction believe that it is an emotional reaction. They basically agree that it is one's reaction/feelings toward their job as a result of what they expect to gain from it or the rewards they believe are deserved.

Most authors define job satisfaction about the same way. Smith, Kendell & Hulin (1975, p.12) defined job satisfaction as "the perceived characteristics of the job in relation to an individual's frame of reference", in other words, it is the employee's feelings towards work situations or certain aspects of it after they have evaluated it. Locke (1976, p.1304) as cited in Locke, E.A. (2004) whose definition is no different defined job satisfaction as "a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job experiences". Job satisfaction was defined by Weiss (2002) as a judgement that an employee makes about their job that may be positive or negative.


According to Gamage, T.G. and Sun-keung Pang, N. (2003), organisational climate refers to "the surface feelings and relations of the organisation, while culture refers to what is embedded within the organisational life, including values, beliefs, heroes, rituals and stories build over a period of time." Their concepts are used interchangeably which assist researchers with understanding the psychological phenomena that exist in organisations today. Their concepts also provide answers to the reasons organisations can influence the attitudes, well-being and behaviour of the individuals they employ and why some organisations are more successful than their competition. (Glission & James, 2002)

Organisational climate and culture, although they may seem similar, they have many differences. While organisational culture asks the question why the patterns of common assumptions, beliefs and shared values exist, organisational climate explains events and experiences and the patterns of behaviour represented (Schneider, 2000).


In the existing literature, it has been seen that organisational culture is the assumptions, beliefs and values employees share towards their organisation, in contrast to organisational climate's meaning which can be viewed as the feelings of employees towards their employees that they experience over a particular event or experience that is occurring in the organisation and can be measured by certain dimensions.

Every organisation's climate possess characteristics that define them and differentiates them from other organisations (Steers, 1977), while Litwin and Stringer (1968) said that organisational climate can be measured and controlled. There are many approaches to organisational climate and definitions that exist that make it diverse.

Social environments such as the workplace can b described by a number of dimensions when studying the organisational climate according to Patterson at al., (2005) and Jones and James, (1979). Litwin and Stringer (1968) came up with nine (9) dimensions of organisational climate. These dimensions are as follows:

Structure - this refers to how employees feel about how many rules, regulations, procedures that must be followed in the organisation.

Responsibility - this refers to the feeling employees have about being their own boss, i.e. they are able to make decision on their own without having to double-check with their superior.

Reward - this refers to how employees feel they should be rewarded for a job well done while emphasizing on the positive that the employer is achieving rather than punishments. It is the perception of fairness of the pay and promotion policies in the organisation.

Risk - this refers to the employees' sense of riskiness and the challenges they are faced with in a particular job and in the organisation as a whole. It also refers to the organisation's approaches for taking risks and its inclination for taking a more stable view.

Warmth - this refers to the group or the organisation's general good fellowship that should prevail in the work atmosphere. On an individual level it refers to the employees' perception of friendliness.

Support - this refers to the employees' perception of the managers and fellow co-workers willingness to assist and also their willingness to provide mutual support.

Standard - this refers to the employees' perception of how much priority is given to achieving both personal and group meeting performance standards as wells as doing an outstanding job.

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Conflict - this refers to the extent to which management and other employees wish to discuss different problems, willingness to hear different opinions as well as the willingness to "air" out problems into the open rather than ignoring them.

Identity - this refers to the employees' sense of belonging with the group or organisation and that they are a valuable member of a working team.

Campbell et al. (1970) identified four dimensions; Individual autonomy, clarity of structure, reward orientation and, consideration and support that were found to be similar to the dimensions mentioned above. Other studies such as the research done on United States Navy personnel by Jones and James (1979) whose results identified six dimensions:

Conflict and ambiguity

Job challenge, importance and variety

Leader facilitation and support

Workgroup cooperation, friendliness and warmth

Professional and organisational esprit

Job Standards

The works of the above-mentioned researchers the dimensions they identified have are similar to that found in the literature.


In order for management to clearly understand their organisational climate, they have to measure it. Measuring the climate would help management understand whether their policies and practices are in line with what they are suppose to be achieving as well as they can gain greater understanding of how their employees view the company and their jobs.

Most organisations should aim to achieve a good organisational climate which can have desirable outcomes such as performance, job satisfaction, affective commitment etc. In turn, having a bad organisational climate can result in outcomes such as staff turnover, poor performances, high error rates, absenteeism etc.

Measuring job satisfaction is just as important as measuring organisational climate. It can explain certain behaviours such as motivation and loyalty which should be seen in the working environment, it is also linked to variables such as productivity and efficiency. (Saura et al. 2005)

The Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) which was developed by Paul Spector is a "nine-subscale instrument designed to assess people's satisfaction and attitude about various facets of their jobs" (Spector, 1992) which includes pay, promotion etc. One of the most popular and validated scales is the Job Descriptive Survey which was developed by Smith et al (1969) assesses work, pay, promotion, supervision and co-workers. (Spector, 1997).


Many cannot argue that motivation is linked to job satisfaction and a positive organisational climate. There are theories that exist and assist in understanding what motivates people to work, to like what they are doing and trust in management. These theories may lead to explanations for satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

2.6.1 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

One of the most popular theories of motivation is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory (Maslow, 1943). He saw that people placed their needs in a certain order, a hierarchy, prioritising from lowest to highest. The order is as follows starting from the lowest order:

Physiological needs - these are the basic human needs that everyone must have i.e. food, shelter and clothing among others. Maslow maintained that if these needs are not satisfied, people would not be motivated to do anything else or not other need will motivate them until these are satisfied. Adequate pay can provide for these needs to be satisfied.

Safety or Security needs - once the physiological needs have been satisfied there is a need for safety and security, i.e. safety from harm which may be psychological or physical, security from the economy etc. Programs such as insurance schemes as well as pension plans can assist in providing for these needs.

Social Needs - once a person's basic needs and safety needs are satisfied, the need for a sense of belonging emerge. Organisations can provide for these needs by having cafeterias, a sports/recreation day etc.

Esteem needs - individuals would want to be held in esteem by both themselves and by others (Koontz and Heinz, 2006). Rewards, recognition programmes and promotion can assist in satisfying these needs.

Self Actualisation needs - the final of Maslow's needs theory, this is concerned with a person's need to reach their full potential and the need to accomplish things in life.

Maslow's theory held that a person is only motivated to the next level once that particular need is satisfied. Alderfer's ERG theory (Tosi et al, 2000) although similar, the factors encompasses that of Maslow's. There are existence, relatedness and growth needs. For example, the existence needs cover Maslow's physiological and security needs etc.

2.6.2 Hertzberg Two-factor Theory

Through Hertzberg and his co-workers' research, they concluded that there are two factors that affect employees within the working environment: Hygiene factors and Motivating factors (Tosi et al, 2000). If hygiene factors are not present in the working environment, this can cause dissatisfaction. This may include simple things such as the working conditions of the employees or job security. Regardless if these things are present, dissatisfaction will be low but satisfaction would not be high.

The motivating factors are linked to the job and high satisfaction; this refers to an employee's willingness to work harder on their jobs. Effort is induced more when these factors are present. Achievement and recognition can result in high satisfaction levels. Jobs that are monotonous and unchallenging can lead to a person to feel dissatisfied with their jobs rather than a person who is in a challenging job, satisfied and is motivated to work harder at what they do.

2.63 The Equity Theory

This theory, developed by Adams (1963), is concerned with an employees' perception of fairness and their evaluation of their job and employer. According to Koontz and Heinz (2006), there should be a balance between outcomes/inputs relationship for one employee in comparison to another. The theory states that if a person feels that they are inadequately compensated for the work that they are doing when they, in return have given the effort on the job, they will be dissatisfied with their jobs. In turn, if a person believes that their compensation surpasses their efforts, they will be satisfied.


This chapter gave a brief introduction on what is a literature review and its purpose to this study. It went on to explore the various definitions of organisational climate and job satisfaction. The differences between organisational culture and climate were explained. The chapter explored the different dimensions to organisational climate and how it is measured with the tools for measuring job satisfaction explained along with the theories associated with them.

The following chapter will discuss the methods by which this study will be approached and carried out.