behavioral management

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Describe and discuss how a behavioral management perspective might affect or be affected by a particular organizational culture

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Contents

Behavioral management perspective. 2

Aspects of organizational culture. 4

Relationship between behavioral management perspective and organizational culture. 6

References. 8

Behavioral management perspective

The behavioral management perspective relates to the psychological aspects of human behavior in matters relating to management. Through this perspective, measurable and observable behavior is considered when one is determining the ways in which management decisions are made through environmental influences. In this perspective aspects such as the possibility of change, nature of man and determinism are considered.

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Behaviorists believe that man is by nature neither evil nor good. They believe in the blank slate theory, also known as the “Tabula Rasa” theory. According to this theory, when a baby is born, he is without any knowledge. He has to acquire all of it from his immediate environment as well as through experience. B.F Skinner reiterated his belief in behaviorism by saying that his own behavior is nothing more than a product of his genetic endowment, his personal history, and the current environmental setting.

In the behavioral management perspective, the actions of customers or employees are determined by the situation or setting in which products are consumed or tasks performed, rather than by inherent internal mental processes regarding intentions and attitudes. Consequently, the main task of managers is to shape customer and employee behavior by always imposing the immediate environment where products are consumed and tasks performed.

According to the behavioral management perspective model, different behaviors of all stakeholders in an organization are determined by two main situational factors: the immediate setting and reinforcement which is always indicated by various features of the setting, which are determined by the learning history of stakeholders. The manner in which these two factors interact determines the specific way in which stakeholders are going to behave.

Managers who consider the behavioral perspective pay attention to social, physical and temporal dimensions when influencing the behavior of the people who they have to manage in the best possible way. The managers are always keen to spot situations that tend to reinforce the required behavior. The right behavior, in this case, is one that results in the achievement of the management goals and objectives that managers of an organization have decided to pursue. For example, if a certain employee performance appraisal strategy seems to motivate employees, the same strategy is continually used in order to continue motivating employees to perform their tasks as described in the job description.

Behavior modification has been seen to work well in areas like mental illness, general education and mental retardation with significant insights being unearthed in these areas. This relative success, according to Duncan (1982, p. 1) provided a good occasion for the focus to be put in many untouched areas, including industry, business, and governmental organizations.

Today, note Herann, et al (2010, p. 24), Behavioral-Based Safety (BBS) methods are very commonly used. They are often used to complement traditional safety methods. Herman, et al (2010, p. 25) give the example of automobile plants in Mexico where they compare the efficiency of BBS methods in two different automobile parts plants. In these two sister companies, it was noted that the methods adequately addressed the behaviors of all managers, safety interventions could now be carried on time, and there was a reduction in a number of injuries that were reported.

Aspects of organizational culture

Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) methods used in automobile plants in Mexico had the ability to change the organizational culture in these companies for the better (Heram, et al. 2010, p. 25). These changes were in the form of a 99% reduction in a number of reported workplace accidents. The measures also made it possible for safety intervention methods to be carried out systematically. The positive impact of these measures was a 96% reduction in the severity of reported accidents.

For some time now, the manner in which rules change the workplace organizational culture has been an important area of debate in organizational behavior literature for a long time. Despite this tremendous interest, Wilder & Squires (2010, p. 58) observe that there is a scarcity of empirical research on this topic. In their own study, Wilder & Squires (2010 p. 59) notice that when two alternating goal-rules were assigned in an alternating, comparative fashion to two employees who were working in a residential treatment facility, slight differences in performance were noted in each of the participants. The rules involved either praise or command, a choice of which was always made randomly. This revealed how easy it can be to bring about positive change in the organizational culture through rule-governed behavior mechanisms.

Today, organizational culture has been changed through detailed market research, exacting accounting procedures and computer-assisted decision making. All these organizational mechanisms have a bearing on the behavior of employees. However, as Duncan (1982, p.4) notes, in matters of management of people, few behavioral tools exist. This brings about a scenario whereby employees are not motivated to pursue organizational goals and objectives. In most cases, the absence of behavioral management tools manifests itself in misinformation, bias, haphazard application of rules and imprecision.

The average manager, says Duncan (1982 p. 5), has run away from the behavioral scientist, who conceptualized the operant conditioning theory decades ago. Duncan notes that the greatest challenge for people who want to employ the principles of operant conditioning theory (behavior modification) has been to put the tenets of this theory in a practical management context. The concept of organizational behavior management suffers from an identity crisis of sorts owing to its newness in the literature on behaviorism (Duncan, 1982 p. 6). This has largely contributed to the lack of systematic approaches in the process of manipulating behavioral changes in the process of managing people.

Any effort by a manager to change the organizational culture in an institution entails an acknowledgement of the fact that the environment, and not any form of an inherent predisposition dictates human behavior. However, this conception represents a departure from the traditional organizational management principles that put emphasis on attitudes, needs, drives, traits, and motives.

The traditional organizational culture is often motivated by the use of terms such as ‘lead’, ‘motivate’, ‘persuade’ and ‘influence’. This approach to organizational culture, notes Duncan (1982, p. 5) has led to the perpetuation of practices that lack any behavioral grounding. No wonder traditionally, managers are uncomfortable with the use of the term ‘control’ in reference to people.

Relationship between behavioral management perspective and organizational culture

            Today, every manager wants to do everything he can in order to maintain a competitive advantage in the market. Sometimes, this entails use of what Milia & Birdi (2009, p. 485) refer to as multilevel learning approaches. These approaches are used to determine the extent to which the behavior of different people in an organization is influenced by the individual, groups and ultimately, organizational level. This explains the relationship that exists between behavioral management and organizational culture since it is not possible to change the behavior of people in an organization without changing the organizational culture along with it.

            Organizational learning practices are always at the heart of the cultural fabric of every organization. The best way to determine whether organizational culture is favorable or not in terms of achievement of goals is to measure the level of a company’s performance. Many managers justify behavioral changes through increased performance rather than the empirical conclusions that point to certain guaranteed organizational benefits. In this case, the relationship between organizational culture and behavioral management is hedged on a trial-and-error method rather than a scientific approach, which is what always interests behavioral scientists.

            The organizational culture of any institution is heavily shaped by the events that go on in the human resource department. It is in the human resource department that performance intervention measures such as training are carried out. The ultimate aim of such interventions is to adapt the workforce to the organizational culture of a business enterprise or institution. Training on different skills imparts more than the required skills; it also imparts attitudes, motives, drives, traits, and needs that one ought to have to perform optimally on the job at hand. With time, these behavioral changes lead to the establishment of a unique organizational culture.

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The ease with which people fit into a certain organizational culture is determined majorly by training and induction measures. In most cases, people who hold management positions are the ones who carry the greatest influence on behavior modification among people who work in an organization. By rewarding certain behaviors punishing others, managers participate in the life-long process of building an organizational culture that transcends theoretical changes in disciplines such as human resource management, behavioral science, and psychology, either at the scholarly level or at the level of policy implementation.

In conclusion, organizational cultures are never changed overnight. They are a product of the environment in which people are exposed to over a long period of time. Undeniably, organizational culture affects the behavioral management approaches that are employed in different organizations. The main reason for the rigidity of organizational culture is that it has a strong aspect of identity associated with it. In sharp contrast, different behavioral management perspectives are often intended for the realization of certain goals and objectives, some of which many people in an organization may not readily associate with. To understand the dynamics of all behavioral management perspectives and their effectiveness within a behaviorist framework, only observable and measurable actions and motives are relevant.

References

Duncan, P, 1982, Current Topics in Organizational Behavior Management, (Vol. 3), Harworth Press, New York.

Herann, J, Ibarra, G, & Hopkins, L. 2010 ‘A Safety Program That Integrated Behavior-Based Safety and Traditional Safety Methods and Its Effects on Injury Rates of Manufacturing Workers’, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, Vol. 30, no. 1 pp. 6 – 25.

Milia, L, & Birdi, K. 2009, The relationship between multiple levels of learning practices and objective and subjective organizational financial performance, Journal of Organizational Behavior.Vol. 31, no.4, pp. 481-498.

Wilder, D, & Squires, J, 2010, ‘A Preliminary Investigation of the Effect of Rules on Employee Performance’, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, Vol. 30, no.1, pp. 57 – 69.

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