In recent times, there has been an increasing focus on improving employee engagement and fostering a positive workplace culture. Why are organizations across the globe so intent on employee relationships and job satisfaction?

Thanks to major theories of organizational behavior that have developed over time, businesses have realized the role that employee behavior plays. Let’s look at different organizational behavior theories and see how they’re instrumental in business growth and success.

  1. The Evolution Of Organizational Behavior

  2. The Major Theories Of Organizational Behavior

  3. Leadership Theories In Organizational Behavior

The Evolution Of Organizational Behavior

Organizational behavior theories refer to the study of human behavior in a business environment. It attempts to find answers to how and why humans behave in certain ways within different professional settings and groups. The study of organizational behavior helps in understanding the most effective ways to make changes in order to maximize output.

The evolution of organizational behavior dates back to the early 20th century when behavioral theorists wanted to find ways to improve productivity in factories. There were three waves of evolution, which led to the following schools of thought:

  • Classical Theories

  • Neo-Classical Theories

  • Modern Management Theories

Over time, different kinds of organizational behavior theories evolved and changed the way businesses viewed organizational culture. They have encouraged businesses and leaders to focus on structures and inter-organizational dynamics.

The Major Theories Of Organizational Behavior

Organizational behavioral theories study human behavior in the real world—how employees interact with one another and the organization itself. It further helps businesses apply that knowledge and inform them how they should work to improve efficiency, motivate employees and boost profits. Some of the most influential theories to date include:

  1. Scientific Management Theory

One of the oldest management theories, the Scientific Management Theory, was pioneered by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. This particular branch of scientific management came to be known as Taylorism, after the theorist himself. Taylor believed that encouragement alone wasn’t sufficient to motivate employees and boost productivity. The procedure for carrying out tasks needed simplification and employees needed direction to perform better. Therefore, the Scientific Management Theory states that managers and employees should work closely and big tasks should be divided into small and manageable bits. Taylor also believed in economic efficiency, where employees should be rewarded in line with their productivity levels. However, this theory was heavily criticized for ignoring the social aspects of management such as perspectives, attitudes, biases and expectations.

  1. Human Relations Management Theory

Elton Mayo, a psychologist, developed the Human Relations Theory. It developed as a response to the Scientific Management Theory. Mayo believed that humans are complex beings who have unique needs and expectations. Multiple factors influence employee motivation and workplace behavior. Organizations need to focus on social and psychological needs as well. In addition to monetary incentives, healthy group dynamics and recognition of efforts are essential in driving workplace productivity.

  1. X & Y Management Theory

It was Douglas McGregor, a management professor, who proposed the X & Y Management Theory. He suggested that there are two aspects of human behavior at work. Theory X highlights the importance of heightened supervision—a manager assumes that an employee has little ambition and avoids responsibility. In Theory Y, a manager assumes that a typical employee is keen to work, therefore minimizing supervision. In this scenario, a positive team environment and opportunities for growth are beneficial.

While these organizational behavior theories were introduced several years ago, most of the principles still hold relevance in current times. Managers should take account of these principles, as a positive workplace culture is integral to any successful business. Additionally, there are several leadership theories in organizational behavior that are key to effective management.

Leadership Theories In Organizational Behavior

Management and leadership skills are closely related to each other. Good managerial skills foster leadership qualities. Here are some of the most popular leadership theories in organizational behavior that were game-changers:

  1. Trait Theory

The theory suggests that leaders have innate qualities or traits that help them excel in their roles. Such people are born with several qualities such as intelligence, accountability, creativity and responsibility.

  1. Behavioral Theory

This theory shifted the focus from innate traits to behaviors and actions of leaders. Effective leadership is the result of skills acquired over time. Therefore, an individual can learn to become a good leader.

  1. Contingency Theory

This theory states that there isn’t one way of leading people. It recognizes the importance of various factors that influence a particular situation. A good leader considers those factors and adjusts their leadership style accordingly.

The evolution of organizational behavior indicates how much management styles have changed over time. As managers, you can apply different principles from each theory to real-world situations and see the difference. At the core of effective management lies trustworthiness and reliability. If you want to lead, you must lead by example.

Harappa’s Establishing Trust course will give you the tools to build and maintain trust-rich relationships by focusing on credibility and openness, honoring commitments, being empathetic, and prioritizing the needs of your team. Powerful frameworks such as The Dominant Factor and Three Pillars of Trust will teach you how to build and rebuild trust. Sign up for Harappa courses today and lead yourself to success!


Explore topics such as What Is A Customer-Centric Approach, Importance Of CSRBenefits Of CSR and Need For CSR from Harappa Diaries to establish trust through your work or your business.

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