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Emerging Trends in Organization Behavior – Organizational Behavior | Management Notes

Emerging Trends in Organizational Behavior

Emerging Trends in Organizational Behavior: The emerging trends in Organizational Behaviour mostly focuses on aspects of making human resource a strategic partner. The present context calls for understanding how human capital management impacts business results.

By most estimates, Organizational Behavior emerged as a distant field around the 1940s. However, its origin can be traced/drawn much further back in time. Organizational Behavior has been around for a long time; it just wasn’t organized into a unified discipline until World War II.

During the passage of time, over the years, managers have adopted different practices (models of Organizational Behavior) to manage the behavior of people in organizations. Models are frameworks for possible explanations of why people do as they do at work.

All the models of organizational behavior are broadly classified into four types: autocratic, custodial, supportive, and collegial.

The journey of Organizational Behavior has been started from the autocratic model and its ultimate destination is the collegial model. Different experts of OB have presented different emerging trends in Organizational Behavior.

In this section, we describe in detail the trends presented by Keith Davis as these trends seem simple, comprehensive, and much more universally applicable in nature. At the same time, we also request the readers to go through the trend offered by the other two experts for a better understanding of the subject matter.

From To
Closed System Open System
Materialistic Orientation Human Orientation
Centralized Power  Distributed Power
Extrinsic Motivation Intrinsic Motivation
Negative Attitude about People Positive Attitude about People
Focus on Organizational needs Balanced Focus on employee and organizational needs
Imposed Discipline Self Discipline
Authoritative managerial role  Managerial role of leadership and team support

1. Open System

All organizations have two organizational systems: Closed system and Open system. The trend is toward considering the organization as an open system. An open system is composed of subsystems and the focus is on integration of them and getting a synergy effect.

Previously an organization was considered a closed system. The open systems anchor of organizational behavior states that the closed system is self-contained and governed by rigid structures and tight rules and regulations.

Key Aspects:

    • Environmental Sensitivity: Organizations are increasingly aware of their impact on the environment and are taking steps to reduce their ecological footprint. This includes sustainability initiatives, reducing waste, and adopting eco-friendly practices.
    • Stakeholder Engagement: Companies are focusing on building strong relationships with various stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and communities. They understand that these relationships can affect their success and reputation.
    • Adaptability: Open systems are more adaptable to change. Organizations are investing in agility, flexibility, and the ability to pivot in response to market shifts or unexpected disruptions.

Example: A tech company actively seeks feedback from its customers through online surveys and social media. They use this feedback to improve their products and services, demonstrating their commitment to being an open system.

2. Human Orientation

Many managers in the past viewed that employees come to the workplace to satisfy their economic needs only. Therefore, managers mostly offered material rewards like money, benefits, commodities, etc. to get the job done. Today, the expectations of employees have changed a lot.

Therefore, managerial practices have been changed more towards cooperation, teamwork, support, and guidance. People are no more one of the factors of production – they are both ends and means of development.

Human orientation has been supported and practiced by organizational behavior. As viewed as the most important resource in an organization, it simply means putting people first.

Individuals are developed to their full potential, which increases their abilities, creativity, and skills required to succeed on the job. Performance is actively supported by the organization. Employees are encouraged to have a positive attitude.

Key Aspects:

    • Work-Life Balance: Organizations are recognizing the need for work-life balance and are offering flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and mental health support.
    • Employee Development: Investing in training, upskilling, and career development opportunities helps employees feel valued and motivated.
    • Inclusive Culture: Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion fosters a sense of belonging among employees, leading to higher morale and productivity.

Example: A pharmaceutical company offers on-site daycare facilities to help working parents balance their responsibilities, demonstrating their commitment to a human-oriented approach.

3. Distributed Power

Under the classical organizational structure, people were viewed only as a means of production. Power was in the hands of managers; only employees were powerless. Organizations followed the centralization of authority. But now, the trend is towards the decentralization of power.

The focus is on the participation and empowerment of people in organizations. Traditionally, organizations were centralized at the top. On the other hand, new trends focus on employee empowerment through autonomy and flexibility at work.

Increasingly, employees are able to manage their own work and increase organizational effectiveness because of the decentralization and distribution of power.

Key Aspects:

    • Empowerment: Organizations are granting more autonomy to employees, allowing them to make decisions that impact their work and the organization as a whole.
    • Flatter Hierarchies: Hierarchical structures are becoming flatter, reducing the number of layers between top management and front-line employees.
    • Cross-Functional Teams: Collaboration across departments and the inclusion of diverse perspectives in decision-making processes are becoming the norm.

Example: An e-commerce company encourages its customer support team to resolve customer issues without needing managerial approval for refunds up to a certain amount, empowering them to provide excellent customer service.

4. Intrinsic Motivation

The focus of managers previously was mostly on extrinsic motivation. The factors in this category are salary, supervision, job security, company policy, etc. In recent years, managers have started offering more intrinsic motivational factors as compared to extrinsic factors to their employees.

Intrinsic motivational factors include achievement, recognition, work itself, etc. Organizational behavior traditionally engaged in extrinsic motivation, induced by financial incentives; on the other hand, nowadays, intrinsic motivation is emphasized — it is self-generated, resulting from a sense of job satisfaction.

By encouraging teamwork, providing power to delegate, and focusing on high-order needs, employees have become empowered, resulting in intrinsic motivation.

Key Aspects:

    • Purpose-Driven Work: Organizations are aligning their missions with employees’ values, allowing them to find purpose in their work.
    • Autonomy: Allowing employees to have control over their work and decision-making enhances their intrinsic motivation.
    • Mastery and Growth: Providing opportunities for skill development and personal growth fosters intrinsic motivation.

Example: A software development company encourages developers to spend a portion of their workweek on personal projects of their choice, fostering creativity and intrinsic motivation.

5. Balanced Focus

The organization started its journey by focusing much on organizational needs, objectives, and results to be achieved. Objectives, needs, and feelings of employees were neglected. But later on, managers realized that there should be mutuality of interest–people need organizations, and organizations need people.

The result is that there is a balanced focus on employee and organizational needs. So, managers have started formulating superordinate goals.

Key Aspects:

    • Sustainability: Organizations are balancing profit goals with sustainability initiatives, recognizing the long-term benefits of environmentally responsible practices.
    • Ethical Leadership: Leaders are focusing on ethical behavior and corporate social responsibility, not just financial metrics.
    • Customer-Centricity: A balanced focus also means prioritizing customer satisfaction and building long-term relationships over short-term profits.

Example: A food production company invests in sustainable farming practices and ethical sourcing, even if it leads to slightly higher production costs, in alignment with their balanced focus.

6. Self- Discipline

Disciplines are codes of behavior at workplaces. Traditionally managers focused on an imposed discipline like in theory ‘X’. They exercised the ‘carrot and stick’ approach to control the behavior and get the job done. But it provided only a short-term solution and resulted in serious side effects.

The emerging trend in Organizational Behavior is towards self-discipline which produces higher results and costs less. It is achieved by managers by creating an environment where employees take themselves as citizens of the organization.

In this type of situation, employees are self-motivated, self-controlled, and guided by their own judgment.

Key Aspects:

    • Remote Work: With the rise of remote work, employees need self-discipline to manage their time and tasks effectively.
    • Goal Setting: Encouraging employees to set their own goals and deadlines promotes self-discipline.
    • Time Management: Training programs and tools for time management help employees improve their self-discipline.

Example: A marketing agency allows employees to work remotely and measures their performance based on results achieved, rather than hours spent working, promoting self-discipline.

7. Leadership and Team Support

The authoritative managerial role is characterized by power exercise, obedience, dependence on the boss, and a negative attitude toward subordinates. The result is minimum performance, reward, and low job satisfaction.

This situation forced managers to adopt a collegial role i.e. the managerial role of leadership and team support. Managers build a feeling of partnership with employees – employees feel needed and useful. The result (is) increased motivation, performance, and job satisfaction.

Key Aspects:

    • Mentorship: Leaders act as mentors, providing coaching and development opportunities to team members.
    • Emotional Intelligence: Leaders are expected to have high emotional intelligence, understanding and empathizing with their team’s needs and concerns.
    • Psychological Safety: Creating an environment where employees feel safe to voice their opinions and take calculated risks is crucial for team support.

Example: A tech startup’s CEO holds regular one-on-one meetings with team members to discuss their career aspirations and provide guidance, demonstrating leadership and team support.

In conclusion, these emerging trends in organizational behavior reflect a shift towards more humane, adaptable, and forward-thinking workplaces. By embracing open systems, human orientation, distributed power, intrinsic motivation, balanced focus, self-discipline, and leadership and team support, organizations can position themselves for success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

These trends not only improve employee engagement and satisfaction but also contribute to long-term organizational sustainability and growth.

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