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  • v.42(4); 2019 Dec

Review of Organizational Behavior Management: The Essentials, edited by Byron Wine and Joshua K. Pritchard

Sharlet d. rafacz.

Department of Psychology, California State University, 2576 East San Ramon ST11, Fresno, CA 93740 USA

The field of organizational behavior management OBM) began with the application of behavioral science in business and industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s (see Dickinson, 2001 , for full history). Since then the field has continued to expand and encompasses a wide range of topics at the individual performer, department, and system levels. Given the breadth of the field, it can be challenging to provide instruction and training that adequately covers both the practice of OBM and the scientific research that supports it. For college or university instruction in particular, it can be difficult to decide what content to review and at what level of detail within the constraints of a single semester. What is needed is a text that can represent the range of OBM, be readily adapted for instructor priorities and preferences, and is primarily research-based.

To date there have been several publications that can be utilized in undergraduate and graduate-level instruction. Articles from the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (JOBM) are a primary source, though some OBM-related research can also be found in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA), Behavior Analysis in Practice (BAP), and Perspectives on Behavior Science (PoBS), among others. Textbooks, however, are limited. Many of the books published by OBMers target a less behavioral audience, typically those in industry (e.g., Braksick, 2000 ; Daniels & Daniels, 2007 ). Although we may assign students to read some of these books as supplements on a particular topic, these are subject specific, do not typically provide references to research supporting practice, and lack a broader overview of the field of OBM. Some of the exceptions to this that provide more research and/or breadth have historically included Industrial Behavior Modification: A Management Handbook (O’Brien, Dickinson, & Rosow, 1982 ), Handbook of Organizational Behavior Management (Frederiksen, 1982 ), and Organizational Behavior Modification (Luthans & Kreitner, 1975 ). In the last 20 years, additional texts include Organizational Change (Hayes, Austin, Houmanfar, & Clayton, 2001 ), Handbook of Organizational Performance: Behavior Analysis and Management (Johnson, Redmon, & Mawhinney, 2001 ), Performance Management (Daniels & Bailey, 2014 ), OBM Applied! A Practical Guide to Implementing Organizational Behavior Management (Rodriguez, Sundberg, & Biagi, 2016 ), and the book that I will be discussing in this review: Organizational Behavior Management: The Essentials .

Organizational Behavior Management: The Essentials is a book edited by Byron Wine and Joshua K. Pritchard, with chapters that have been contributed by various authors, including several by the editors themselves. The authors and the editors declined to accept any royalties for the book to keep the price as low as possible, which increases accessibility of this textbook, in particular for undergraduate and graduate students. For the purposes of this review, I will not be comparing and contrasting the previously mentioned texts to Organizational Behavior Management: The Essentials , but mention them so that instructors are aware that other texts do exist and that whole books or specific chapters may be utilized as replacements or supplemental readings. Indeed, there are several points throughout this book where chapters from several of these texts are cited.

As a faculty member at a public university in the United States, I have taught multiple sections of OBM at the undergraduate and master’s level. In the programs where I have instructed, these are stand-alone courses that are typically taken by students with some background in applied behavior analysis (ABA). For this review, I have solicited input from current students of mine at the undergraduate and graduate levels to provide both instructor and student perspectives on the utilization of this book at various levels of instruction.

Organization and Content of the Book

The book is organized into three sections that comprise 16 chapters. Section I begins with the first chapter, authored by the editors of the book (Wine and Pritchard), and provides some context for the reader. It briefly outlines what ABA is and how OBM operates as a subdiscipline; however, it worth noting that the authors themselves later illustrate how OBM operates outside of the traditional ABA guidelines (e.g., behavioral systems analysis; see also discussion by Hyten, 2017 ). The authors explain that the goal of this text is to reflect the range of topics that fall under OBM and introduce students to the field as a whole. They then provide a brief history of OBM and delineate its two major orientations: performance management (PM) and behavioral systems analysis (BSA). They discuss how these orientations are reflected across the remaining sections of the book and in the rationale for how the book is organized. Section I introduces the areas of BSA, consumer behavior analysis (CBA), and behavior-based safety (BBS). In this section, OBM is also contrasted with related fields. The second section focuses primarily on PM fundamentals, including measurement, assessment, antecedents, and consequences, before also discussing motivation and creativity and process assessments. The final section covers practitioner issues including ethics, how to apply OBM in human service settings, consulting skills, and project management. Overall this initial chapter provides a short introduction to OBM and the contents of the book, but may be too brief given that nowhere else in the book does it define OBM, discuss its history (for further reading, see Dickinson, 2001 ), or provide a larger context, especially for students new to the field. Instructors will likely need to assign additional articles to provide that background.

Chapter 2, by Lori H. Ludwig and Timothy D. Ludwig, begins with a short discussion of entrepreneurship and how BSA can help address some of the challenges of establishing a new, adaptive business. The authors then provide a case study of an indoor bouldering gym and some of the issues the business faces currently and with their goal to expand. The key elements of BSA are then reviewed and how meta-contingencies are critical elements of a systems analysis is discussed. The authors of this chapter discuss a specific variation of BSA focused on adding value for the customer. They outline this process and use the bouldering gym case study to provide examples of each step in the process, including identifying the value gem (what makes the company special), verification of the value gem (soliciting customer feedback), differentiation from other businesses (competition), department functions and how to align these functions to the customer value, ensuring processes are designed to be efficient and effective, before finally discussing how this operates at the performer level and the involvement of management in antecedent and consequence delivery. Due to the applied nature of the chapter and emphasis on one meta-contingency (value for the customer) it provides a focus to BSA that is very approachable for individuals new to systems analysis. Sometimes BSA articles or books can be overwhelming because there are so many factors to consider and it is difficult to know where to start. One concern, however, in utilizing this chapter on its own is the lack of diagrams to illustrate the overall system, meta-contingencies, and other more complex steps (e.g., aligning department functions). Multiple illustrations would help with this or an instructor may consider assigning a journal article that outlines one of the more diagnostic approaches the authors mention in the summary section of the chapter.

Chapter 3, by Mark R. Dixon and Jordan Belisle, provides a historical context for current employee pay systems before briefly reviewing the time-based systems that are commonly utilized, including contracting, hourly, and yearly salaries. These pay systems are then contrasted with performance-based pay systems where pay is directly proportional to the employee’s performance level. Specific examples in education, government, healthcare, sales, and other industries are discussed. The authors’ overall conclusions are that although individual, competitive systems may be successful in some situations, cooperative and group-based ones are preferred. They provide the example of gainsharing and open-book management, which involves the organization sharing profit gains with employees, and incentivizes the employee to participate more in behaviors that increase profits. Because many of these systems have been designed and adopted outside of behavior analysis, the authors then describe a behavior analytic (i.e., functional) account of performance-based pay systems. This discussion includes the limitations of some research in this area, in particular as it is applied within actual organizational settings with competing social contingencies, other sources of reinforcement for work beyond financial, motivating operations, rule-governed behavior, and conclude with several recommendations for future research. Overall, the chapter provides a comprehensive and critical evaluation of performance-based pay. One area that was not clearly evaluated, however, was how the company’s profit may be directly linked to employee performance (i.e., profit-indexed performance pay; Abernathy, 2000 ), which is a critical issue for behavior analysts interested in utilizing pay as a reinforcer. Profit-only pay systems do not necessarily include this component, and piece-rate (as the authors mention) only reinforces individual, not group, improvements.

Chapter 4, by Angelica Grindle and Terry E. McSween, outlines a behavioral approach to safety in the workplace. The authors give a context for this approach by providing an initial overview of what is behavior based safety, or BBS, some data to support it, and its key elements (e.g., direct observation, feedback, goals, and recognition/reinforcement). The authors then make the point that although these elements appear simple, their implementation is complex, and the remainder of the chapter addresses the process for this implementation. The process includes a safety process assessment, assembling a steering committee, and the safety process itself (safety observations, training of staff, feedback and data review, planning recognition and celebration). They then discuss the importance of leadership in maintaining the process and ensuring that contingencies are not delivered that distort observational data. They conclude the chapter with specific practice suggestions. One of the strengths of this chapter is the provision of examples and specific recommendations for each step of the process. Overall, the chapter provides a broad overview of BBS while also emphasizing its most critical components.

Chapter 5, by Donald A. Hantula, focuses on consumer behavior analysis (CBA) and starts by introducing the importance of the consumer within the greater context of OBM in general and BSA in particular. The author does so by providing a short history of how CBA can be traced back to John Watson’s work, Ogden Lindsley’s ( 1962 ) initial research on advertising using CONPAAD (conjugately programmed analysis of advertising), and how CBA advanced the field by measuring consumer choices in situ rather than relying on attitude measures. The author then discusses BSA as it relates to CBA, emphasizing the role of the consumer, the importance of measuring consumer responses to an intervention, and how consumers may themselves be utilized to collect data. Following this, the two theoretically informed approaches to consumer behavior, the behavioral perspective model (BPM) and the behavioral ecology of consumption (BEC), are reviewed. According to the author, BPM and BEC are complementary and when combined provide a more complete account of CBA. How the matching law and behavioral economics research enhance CBA and form operant behavioral economics is then discussed. Finally, a summary is provided and call to conduct research with a systems-based approaches, more quantitative sophistication and theory, and a functional, rather than structural, perspective. Overall, this chapter explores a theoretical account of consumer and employee behavior from an economic perspective and provides a well-rounded review of these models while remaining approachable for individuals new to this area. One strength of this chapter are the number of references included in the sections where research is cited on BPM and BEC. This provides instructors with a list of potential readings to compliment the chapter if desired, in particular because this is a rapidly expanding area of OBM (see The Behavior Analyst, 40 (2), for further examples).

Chapter 6, by Barbara R. Bucklin, aims to compare and contrast OBM with related disciplines, such as human performance technology/performance improvement (HPT/PI) and industrial-organizational psychology (I-O). The author begins by outlining the history of HPT/PI, including key figures, change in focus over time, and the professional organization most closely associated with it. Common and contrasting elements between today’s HPT and OBM are discussed, before the author provides information on journals, topics of interest, credentials, and educational opportunities. One notable contribution in this section is a table comparing and contrasting HPT/PI with OBM so the reader can clearly see similarities and differences, followed by a recommended reading list for further information on HPT/PI. The author then follows the same format to discuss I-O psychology, which primarily emphasizes personnel selection and placement, is theoretically eclectic, and very popular, with hundreds of universities offering Ph.D.s in I-O psychology. The author also provides a high-level review of human resources management (HRM), talent development, organizational behavior (OB), and organizational development (OD) by explaining their overlaps with OBM and where to find additional information. As a conclusion, the chapter ends with what differentiates OBM from these fields, in particular its strengths, and how the information provided in the chapter provides a basis for conversations with professionals in these related fields and ideas for other research areas. Overall, this chapter is very beneficial for students unfamiliar with related disciplines but will also be seeking jobs in the field and will need to know what job titles overlap with their skill sets and who their competition and potential collaborators in the field are likely to be.

Section II of the book begins with a chapter on behavioral pinpointing and measurement. The authors (Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, Matthew D. Novak, Tyler G. Erath, Denys Brand, and Amy J. Henley) start the chapter with a rationale for why pinpointing and measurement are so important in organizational settings. They then provide definitions and examples of pinpointing and measurement. Notable in this section are the precise recommendations about what to pinpoint (e.g., behavior versus result) and examples of measurement tied to specific research studies. Barriers to measurement are also addressed, mainly resistance from management or employees and lack of time or resources. The authors also broadly outline key characteristics of an effective measurement system, but as they themselves point out, it is not a thorough description and it would be necessary for someone designing such a system to review additional sources. Useful suggestions for data collection are then outlined before providing an applied example at the conclusion of the chapter. The applied example integrates all the material provided in the chapter into a real-life application. This accomplishes the goal of presenting the content in a second way, thus enhancing learning, but also eliminates the need for a course instructor to develop or find examples elsewhere.

Chapter 8, by David A. Wilder and Ansley C. Hodges, focuses on assessment and initially describes how assessment is employed within OBM. The authors then provide examples of assessment in BBS and systems analysis before giving a history of assessment in ABA and application in OBM. They address the fact that historically formal assessment was absent from ABA (pre-1980s), but although the authors state that OBM has taken longer to utilize similar assessments and the number of studies evaluating them remains small, it is important to note that several OBM assessments date back to the 1970s (e.g., Mager and Pipe, 1970 ). The authors then discuss several formats of informant assessment utilized in PM, including Mager and Pipe’s model, Gilbert’s tool, and the performance diagnostic checklist (PDC) and its variations, the PDC-Human Services and the PDC-Safety, and the PIC/NIC analysis. The authors emphasize that these assessments are inexpensive and efficient, but more research on their reliability and validity is needed. One strength of this chapter is the brief review of research that is available on each assessment, which provides a reading list for instructors interested in assigning additional articles for students. Descriptive and experimental analyses are also briefly covered and reasons for their limited use in organizational settings discussed. The authors conclude the chapter with suggested research areas in assessment. Overall, the chapter provides a nice overview of assessment. BBS, systems analysis, and process assessment are covered elsewhere in the book, and so are only briefly reviewed here.

Chapter 9, by Byron Wine, discusses the role of antecedents in organizational settings. The author begins by describing antecedents in general and how they operate within an operant contingency. The author then provides a nice discussion of the role of antecedents in the workplace, how manipulating them is common in the workplace, but how research and conceptual understanding of how they operate on behavior is limited. The author does not cover training within the chapter in order to provide room to discuss other antecedent interventions, but given recent research in the field (see Behavior Analysis in Practice , vols. 11 and 12) more discussion may be warranted. The author then provides a summary of several antecedent interventions, including task clarification/checklists, job aids/prompts, and goal setting, including available research. The goal setting section, however, would benefit from references supporting assertions regarding how to best set goals. The chapter concludes with a brief review of some additional antecedent interventions, before concluding with a very important discussion about overreliance on antecedent interventions without including consequence-based interventions in organizational settings. Overall, the chapter provides a summary of several important antecedent strategies, but additional references and discussion of training and goal setting would be recommended. In addition, although the discriminative versus motivative functions of these interventions are not easily determined, it does warrant additional discussion. Motivating operations are briefly discussed elsewhere (see discussion of Chapter 11) but an instructor may want to assign additional articles that cover motivating operations and rule-governed behavior because they play such a critical role in human behavior in the workplace.

Chapter 10, by Sigurdur O. Sigurdsson, Brandon M. Ring, and Adam S. Warman, covers consequences and begins with a well-written introduction to issues regarding reinforcement that are unique to organizational settings, including that contrived reinforcers in organizational settings are typically rule-governed analogs to reinforcement. They only briefly review schedules of reinforcement, but given the lack of research in this area in an OBM context, this seems appropriate. The chapter then covers feedback, incentives, and praise as common interventions. The authors note that these interventions may not exclusively function as consequences, and are not mutually exclusive. The authors review and provide important recommendations based on the literature regarding feedback content, source, immediacy, frequency, medium, and privacy. Following this is a discussion of the role of incentives, how to identify potential reinforcers through preference assessments, and some general recommendations. Like Chapter 9, this section may benefit from the inclusion of some additional research citations and discussion, in particular on feedback timing, ideal monetary amounts for incentives, and preference assessments. The authors conclude the chapter by providing an excellent discussion of praise, in particular with respect to concerns regarding insincerity and habituation. One of the strengths of this chapter is the recognition that it is difficult to classify interventions strictly as consequences, similar to antecedent interventions, which again points to the necessity of either a chapter specifically addressing this issue or assigning additional reading on the topic. The authors also assert that most OBM interventions are to increase responding, and so they focus exclusively on reinforcement, but punishment (penalty) and negative reinforcement are also prevalent in the workplace and if not included in the chapter, the authors might recommend additional readings.

Chapter 11, written by Douglas A. Johnson and Merrilyn Akpapuna, takes a slightly different focus on motivation by discussing it in the context of innovation and creativity. The authors assert that innovation and creativity are a growing business necessity, but that OBM has not positioned itself well to address these because OBM is either misunderstood by other disciplines (sticks and carrots only) or our analysis of motivation is superficial at best. Hence the reason for this chapter is to address motivation, creativity, and innovation from a behavioral paradigm. They begin by providing a succinct and well-written clarification of terms and definitions related to motivation such as “rewards/reinforcers” and “intrinsic/extrinsic motivation” before exploring why the business community demonizes external reinforcement and why OBMers should be concerned about this. They then review behavioral approaches to increase “motivation,” including a focus on motivating operations, which is a critical addition given it is only briefly discussed in other sections of the text. Finally, the authors address implications of all of this for generating novel and creative behavior. This particular chapter has some important elements but may also be a missed opportunity. A further discussion of motivating operations is necessary, but the digression into intrinsic/extrinsic motivation does not seem appropriate for the intended audience of this book given the dubious validity of the intrinsic/extrinsic motivation construct (Mawhinney, Dickinson, & Taylor, 1989 ; Skaggs, Dickinson, & O’Connor, 1991 ; and meta-analysis of intrinsic/extrinsic by Cameron & Pierce, 1994 ; Cameron, Banko, & Pierce, 2001 ). The chapter starts and ends with an interesting discussion regarding novelty and creativity in the workplace (see also Neuringer & Jensen, 2012 ), but many of the recommendations are hypothetical given the lack of research. Although the authors make a good case for why creativity and innovation are important in industry, given the current lack of behavioral application in the area, this chapter could have been utilized for a more extensive discussion of motivating operations, rule-governed behavior, or other OBM areas, such as leadership.

The final chapter (Chapter 12) in Section II is written by Heather M. McGee and begins by explaining how process analysis fits into OBM. The author then defines what a process is and how processes are classified (i.e., single or cross-functional and core, support, or management). OBM research on process improvement is then briefly discussed. Finally, the bulk of the chapter focuses on the steps involved in a process analysis, which vary slightly (based on authorship) but in general include and are covered in the current chapter as scoping the process and determining the results to be affected, analysis of the process, designing changes, developing materials for the changes, implementation, and evaluation. In this chapter, more emphasis is placed on the initial steps of analysis and design, including providing specific step-by-step recommendations regarding identifying steps of the current “IS” process, mapping it, and analyzing disconnects before designing the “SHOULD” process. This chapter is well-written and provides step-by-step instructions, with the addition of a practical example that is essential for following what can be a complex process. This chapter lends itself well to being paired with additional empirical research articles or with a student project, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Section III begins with a chapter on ethics written by the editors (Wine and Pritchard). They start the chapter by explaining that their goal is to provide a “practical framework from which to make ethical decisions in OBM endeavors” (p. 320). They explicitly state that they are not interested in providing guidelines, because these are difficult to generalize to novel situations, but rather discuss the underlying ethical principles that should guide behavior in organizational settings. As such, they only briefly discuss ethical guidelines that apply to OBMers from the BACB or the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). Instead, they focus on several book chapters and articles that provide guidelines for the ethical behavior of a consultant, OBMer, and manager. Included in this is a discussion of job satisfaction from a behavioral perspective (Hantula, 2015 ). The authors argue that for an intervention to be ethical, it must not only meet the needs of management (i.e., increase performance) but do so in a way that enhances the job satisfaction of the employees (i.e., reducing aversive control and promoting healthy and safety of employees through positive reinforcement). Finally, they synthesize these varying guidelines into eight questions that, in their words, guide OBM consultants in making decisions that would balance cost, benefit, and responsibility across management, workers, and consumers, which would thereby benefit society. However, the authors recognize that additional more formalized guidelines and model are needed which are beyond the scope of this chapter. I agree with the authors on their assessment and that more discussion and writing on ethics in OBM is needed. The current chapter provides a reasonable introduction to the topic and a practical starting point for this conversation however and, like the previous chapter on process analysis, can be combined with exercises or additional readings, in particular at the graduate level.

Chapter 14, by James K. Luiselli, reviews how OBM can be applied in human service programs (HSP), and provides examples of research and special considerations for this setting. Some of the more important sections of the chapter include acknowledging how performance expectations may be different/unique in HSPs and what challenges that may include, such as meeting regulatory guidelines. They then discuss how assessment is adapted to HSP (e.g., PDC-Human Services) and several performance improvement areas, including training, performance monitoring (which combines multiple interventions), intervention/treatment integrity, and safety. It is worth noting that some of this section significantly overlaps with other content in the book, but some of that is to be expected as it does involve the application of, for example, the PDC in this setting. This also allows the chapter to stand alone without the necessity of reading prior chapters. The author then provides some final conclusions about assembling performance improvement teams, creating goals/objectives based on assessment and practical measurement systems, providing incentives/reinforcement, assessing social validity, and staying current with the research literature and maintaining a scientist-practitioner orientation. Although the chapter doesn’t cover all considerations when working within HSP settings, such as addressing high levels of employee burnout and absenteeism in this setting, it does provide a discussion of some of the key considerations and cites additional resources that instructors can assign if they would like to provide more instruction on the content.

In Chapter 15, Amy Durgin discusses project management. The chapter begins by describing project management’s recent growth as a field and certification (project management professional or PMP). The chapter then reviews what a project is, what project success looks like, in particular from the viewpoint of various stakeholders, common factors that lead to failure, and then walks through the steps of managing a project in greater detail, including initiating, planning, monitoring and controlling, and project closing. One notable strength of this section is the level of detail regarding what questions to ask at each step, who is involved, and what the deliverables should look like. Finally, the chapter reviews what OBMers can contribute, in particular regarding managing antecedents and consequences for the team but also for themselves. Although unmentioned, this could also include goal setting, managing MOs, measurement, and leadership behavior. This discussion is important because project management is not unique to behavior analysis. As per the author, this chapter addresses an important area of OBM, which is project work, as opposed to operational or ongoing work of the organization. Like the chapters on systems analysis and process mapping, it is written in an approachable and practical manner, though it may benefit from an example carried through the chapter (as seen in the systems and process mapping chapters).

Chapter 16 concludes the book by discussing consultation in OBM, and is written by Nicole Gravina, Allison H. King, and Ansley C. Hodges. It begins by discussing what consulting is and the collaborative role that OBM consultants typically take. The authors then discuss key issues related to consulting, including building rapport, contacts and networking, sales and securing work, consulting rates, conducting assessments, and planning and delivering work. Notable in this section is a table and discussion on how to utilize multiple sources of information in assessment, which complements without repeating the content from Chapter 8. They then review some consulting examples, like the consultant workshop model and BBS, and the common elements that these consultant models include (e.g., attempts to institutionalize the intervention), as well as the coaching role that many OBM consultants assume, in particular with leaders. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of an OBM approach to consulting. This provides a nice conclusion to the book because presumably students have already read some of the other content so the discussion will be at their level. It also adds additional information in the way of examples and soft-skill considerations, and summarizes what it looks like to practice within the field in terms of what we do well and where there is still room for improvement.


The authors’ goal in editing Organizational Behavior Management: The Essentials was to represent the scope of OBM while maintaining a close tie to the research. Overall, I found that the book met these aims. Each of the chapters is well-written and the book is a well-organized introduction to OBM that provides a reasonable representation of the breadth of the field. This book will be an important resource as the number of behavior scientists or behavior analysts seeking instruction in OBM continues to grow. Although this review primarily evaluated the book in the context of its use in an undergraduate or graduate curriculum, the book might also be used for the education of staff, managers, or others within applied settings.

There are some issues the editors may want to address in a future edition or an individual using the text in a class (or for personal use) may wish to take into consideration. The first is the varying level of behavioral expertise assumed by the chapters. Some chapters are written at a very basic level of instruction and would be acceptable for an undergraduate student with no behavior analytic background, whereas others are more advanced and assume a general working knowledge of behavior science or behavior analysis. The book as a whole may be challenging for students new to behavior science or behavior analysis. The second consideration is somewhat related, in that some chapters are more research-focused, others are primarily practice-oriented, and some combine research with practical application. An instructor utilizing this text will likely need to supplement some chapters with research articles or with applied examples in order to provide both perspectives. Finally, the editors may consider adding supplemental materials to the book. Some of the chapters include figures, tables, and additional recommended readings. It would be beneficial to add more figures to some chapters, make additional recommended readings more explicit, and potentially include discussion questions, case studies, or other projects for extra practice. These supplemental materials could be published on a website.

Although there are some shortcomings, there are also several strengths that are worth noting. One of these is how the book addresses issues specifically related to the practice of OBM, such as ethics, consulting skills, and differentiating a career in OBM from related disciplines. A second strength is how many of the chapters end with suggested areas for research, which may inspire students and researchers to expand the scope of research in OBM. Finally, the chapters of the book are written such that they stand alone. In other words, although they reference content covered elsewhere in the text, for the most part it is not necessary to read those other chapters. This creates flexibility for an instructor to rearrange the order in which the chapters are covered in the course, for example, if they would like to address performance management before BSA. An instructor may also add chapters or other readings on topics not covered in the book or substitute a chapter for another article or chapter that better meets their needs. As the editors themselves indicate, it is not possible for one text to cover the full breadth of the field and in sufficient depth to be comprehensive. This text provides a good starting point from which individuals can read further on particular areas of interest, develop research questions, or use for an introductory class that lays the foundation for more advanced OBM coursework.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Article contents

Organizational behavior.

  • Neal M. Ashkanasy Neal M. Ashkanasy University of Queensland
  •  and  Alana D. Dorris Alana D. Dorris University of Queensland
  • https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.23
  • Published online: 29 March 2017

Organizational behavior (OB) is a discipline that includes principles from psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Its focus is on understanding how people behave in organizational work environments. Broadly speaking, OB covers three main levels of analysis: micro (individuals), meso (groups), and macro (the organization). Topics at the micro level include managing the diverse workforce; effects of individual differences in attitudes; job satisfaction and engagement, including their implications for performance and management; personality, including the effects of different cultures; perception and its effects on decision-making; employee values; emotions, including emotional intelligence, emotional labor, and the effects of positive and negative affect on decision-making and creativity (including common biases and errors in decision-making); and motivation, including the effects of rewards and goal-setting and implications for management. Topics at the meso level of analysis include group decision-making; managing work teams for optimum performance (including maximizing team performance and communication); managing team conflict (including the effects of task and relationship conflict on team effectiveness); team climate and group emotional tone; power, organizational politics, and ethical decision-making; and leadership, including leadership development and leadership effectiveness. At the organizational level, topics include organizational design and its effect on organizational performance; affective events theory and the physical environment; organizational culture and climate; and organizational change.

  • organizational psychology
  • organizational sociology
  • organizational anthropology


Organizational behavior (OB) is the study of how people behave in organizational work environments. More specifically, Robbins, Judge, Millett, and Boyle ( 2014 , p. 8) describe it as “[a] field of study that investigates the impact that individual groups and structure have on behavior within organizations, for the purposes of applying such knowledge towards improving an organization’s effectiveness.” The OB field looks at the specific context of the work environment in terms of human attitudes, cognition, and behavior, and it embodies contributions from psychology, social psychology, sociology, and anthropology. The field is also rapidly evolving because of the demands of today’s fast-paced world, where technology has given rise to work-from-home employees, globalization, and an ageing workforce. Thus, while managers and OB researchers seek to help employees find a work-life balance, improve ethical behavior (Ardichivili, Mitchell, & Jondle, 2009 ), customer service, and people skills (see, e.g., Brady & Cronin, 2001 ), they must simultaneously deal with issues such as workforce diversity, work-life balance, and cultural differences.

The most widely accepted model of OB consists of three interrelated levels: (1) micro (the individual level), (2) meso (the group level), and (3) macro (the organizational level). The behavioral sciences that make up the OB field contribute an element to each of these levels. In particular, OB deals with the interactions that take place among the three levels and, in turn, addresses how to improve performance of the organization as a whole.

In order to study OB and apply it to the workplace, it is first necessary to understand its end goal. In particular, if the goal is organizational effectiveness, then these questions arise: What can be done to make an organization more effective? And what determines organizational effectiveness? To answer these questions, dependent variables that include attitudes and behaviors such as productivity, job satisfaction, job performance, turnover intentions, withdrawal, motivation, and workplace deviance are introduced. Moreover, each level—micro, meso, and macro—has implications for guiding managers in their efforts to create a healthier work climate to enable increased organizational performance that includes higher sales, profits, and return on investment (ROE).

The Micro (Individual) Level of Analysis

The micro or individual level of analysis has its roots in social and organizational psychology. In this article, six central topics are identified and discussed: (1) diversity; (2) attitudes and job satisfaction; (3) personality and values; (4) emotions and moods; (5) perception and individual decision-making; and (6) motivation.

An obvious but oft-forgotten element at the individual level of OB is the diverse workforce. It is easy to recognize how different each employee is in terms of personal characteristics like age, skin color, nationality, ethnicity, and gender. Other, less biological characteristics include tenure, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. In the Australian context, while the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 helped to increase participation of people with disabilities working in organizations, discrimination and exclusion still continue to inhibit equality (Feather & Boeckmann, 2007 ). In Western societies like Australia and the United States, however, antidiscrimination legislation is now addressing issues associated with an ageing workforce.

In terms of gender, there continues to be significant discrimination against female employees. Males have traditionally had much higher participation in the workforce, with only a significant increase in the female workforce beginning in the mid-1980s. Additionally, according to Ostroff and Atwater’s ( 2003 ) study of engineering managers, female managers earn a significantly lower salary than their male counterparts, especially when they are supervising mostly other females.

Job Satisfaction and Job Engagement

Job satisfaction is an attitudinal variable that comes about when an employee evaluates all the components of her or his job, which include affective, cognitive, and behavioral aspects (Weiss, 2002 ). Increased job satisfaction is associated with increased job performance, organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs), and reduced turnover intentions (Wilkin, 2012 ). Moreover, traditional workers nowadays are frequently replaced by contingent workers in order to reduce costs and work in a nonsystematic manner. According to Wilkin’s ( 2012 ) findings, however, contingent workers as a group are less satisfied with their jobs than permanent employees are.

Job engagement concerns the degree of involvement that an employee experiences on the job (Kahn, 1990 ). It describes the degree to which an employee identifies with their job and considers their performance in that job important; it also determines that employee’s level of participation within their workplace. Britt, Dickinson, Greene-Shortridge, and McKibbin ( 2007 ) describe the two extremes of job satisfaction and employee engagement: a feeling of responsibility and commitment to superior job performance versus a feeling of disengagement leading to the employee wanting to withdraw or disconnect from work. The first scenario is also related to organizational commitment, the level of identification an employee has with an organization and its goals. Employees with high organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and employee engagement tend to perceive that their organization values their contribution and contributes to their wellbeing.

Personality represents a person’s enduring traits. The key here is the concept of enduring . The most widely adopted model of personality is the so-called Big Five (Costa & McCrae, 1992 ): extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness. Employees high in conscientiousness tend to have higher levels of job knowledge, probably because they invest more into learning about their role. Those higher in emotional stability tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of stress, most likely because of their positive and opportunistic outlooks. Agreeableness, similarly, is associated with being better liked and may lead to higher employee performance and decreased levels of deviant behavior.

Although the personality traits in the Big Five have been shown to relate to organizational behavior, organizational performance, career success (Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, & Barrick, 2006 ), and other personality traits are also relevant to the field. Examples include positive self-evaluation, self-monitoring (the degree to which an individual is aware of comparisons with others), Machiavellianism (the degree to which a person is practical, maintains emotional distance, and believes the end will justify the means), narcissism (having a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement), risk-taking, proactive personality, and type A personality. In particular, those who like themselves and are grounded in their belief that they are capable human beings are more likely to perform better because they have fewer self-doubts that may impede goal achievements. Individuals high in Machiavellianism may need a certain environment in order to succeed, such as a job that requires negotiation skills and offers significant rewards, although their inclination to engage in political behavior can sometimes limit their potential. Employees who are high on narcissism may wreak organizational havoc by manipulating subordinates and harming the overall business because of their over-inflated perceptions of self. Higher levels of self-monitoring often lead to better performance but they may cause lower commitment to the organization. Risk-taking can be positive or negative; it may be great for someone who thrives on rapid decision-making, but it may prove stressful for someone who likes to weigh pros and cons carefully before making decisions. Type A individuals may achieve high performance but may risk doing so in a way that causes stress and conflict. Proactive personality, on the other hand, is usually associated with positive organizational performance.

Employee Values

Personal value systems are behind each employee’s attitudes and personality. Each employee enters an organization with an already established set of beliefs about what should be and what should not be. Today, researchers realize that personality and values are linked to organizations and organizational behavior. Years ago, only personality’s relation to organizations was of concern, but now managers are more interested in an employee’s flexibility to adapt to organizational change and to remain high in organizational commitment. Holland’s ( 1973 ) theory of personality-job fit describes six personality types (realistic, investigative, social, conventional, enterprising, and artistic) and theorizes that job satisfaction and turnover are determined by how well a person matches her or his personality to a job. In addition to person-job (P-J) fit, researchers have also argued for person-organization (P-O) fit, whereby employees desire to be a part of and are selected by an organization that matches their values. The Big Five would suggest, for example, that extraverted employees would desire to be in team environments; agreeable people would align well with supportive organizational cultures rather than more aggressive ones; and people high on openness would fit better in organizations that emphasize creativity and innovation (Anderson, Spataro, & Flynn, 2008 ).

Individual Differences, Affect, and Emotion

Personality predisposes people to have certain moods (feelings that tend to be less intense but longer lasting than emotions) and emotions (intense feelings directed at someone or something). In particular, personalities with extraversion and emotional stability partially determine an individual predisposition to experience emotion more or less intensely.

Affect is also related as describing the positive and negative feelings that people experience (Ashkanasy, 2003 ). Moreover, emotions, mood, and affect interrelate; a bad mood, for instance, can lead individuals to experience a negative emotion. Emotions are action-oriented while moods tend to be more cognitive. This is because emotions are caused by a specific event that might only last a few seconds, while moods are general and can last for hours or even days. One of the sources of emotions is personality. Dispositional or trait affects correlate, on the one hand, with personality and are what make an individual more likely to respond to a situation in a predictable way (Watson & Tellegen, 1985 ). Moreover, like personality, affective traits have proven to be stable over time and across settings (Diener, Larsen, Levine, & Emmons, 1985 ; Watson, 1988 ; Watson & Tellegen, 1985 ; Watson & Walker, 1996 ). State affect, on the other hand, is similar to mood and represents how an individual feels in the moment.

The Role of Affect in Organizational Behavior

For many years, affect and emotions were ignored in the field of OB despite being fundamental factors underlying employee behavior (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1995 ). OB researchers traditionally focused on solely decreasing the effects of strong negative emotions that were seen to impede individual, group, and organizational level productivity. More recent theories of OB focus, however, on affect, which is seen to have positive, as well as negative, effects on behavior, described by Barsade, Brief, and Spataro ( 2003 , p. 3) as the “affective revolution.” In particular, scholars now understand that emotions can be measured objectively and be observed through nonverbal displays such as facial expression and gestures, verbal displays, fMRI, and hormone levels (Ashkanasy, 2003 ; Rashotte, 2002 ).

Fritz, Sonnentag, Spector, and McInroe ( 2010 ) focus on the importance of stress recovery in affective experiences. In fact, an individual employee’s affective state is critical to OB, and today more attention is being focused on discrete affective states. Emotions like fear and sadness may be related to counterproductive work behaviors (Judge et al., 2006 ). Stress recovery is another factor that is essential for more positive moods leading to positive organizational outcomes. In a study, Fritz et al. ( 2010 ) looked at levels of psychological detachment of employees on weekends away from the workplace and how it was associated with higher wellbeing and affect.

Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Labor

Ashkanasy and Daus ( 2002 ) suggest that emotional intelligence is distinct but positively related to other types of intelligence like IQ. It is defined by Mayer and Salovey ( 1997 ) as the ability to perceive, assimilate, understand, and manage emotion in the self and others. As such, it is an individual difference and develops over a lifetime, but it can be improved with training. Boyatzis and McKee ( 2005 ) describe emotional intelligence further as a form of adaptive resilience, insofar as employees high in emotional intelligence tend to engage in positive coping mechanisms and take a generally positive outlook toward challenging work situations.

Emotional labor occurs when an employee expresses her or his emotions in a way that is consistent with an organization’s display rules, and usually means that the employee engages in either surface or deep acting (Hochschild, 1983 ). This is because the emotions an employee is expressing as part of their role at work may be different from the emotions they are actually feeling (Ozcelik, 2013 ). Emotional labor has implications for an employee’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Moreover, because of the discrepancy between felt emotions (how an employee actually feels) and displayed emotions or surface acting (what the organization requires the employee to emotionally display), surface acting has been linked to negative organizational outcomes such as heightened emotional exhaustion and reduced commitment (Erickson & Wharton, 1997 ; Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002 ; Grandey, 2003 ; Groth, Hennig-Thurau, & Walsh, 2009 ).

Affect and Organizational Decision-Making

Ashkanasy and Ashton-James ( 2008 ) make the case that the moods and emotions managers experience in response to positive or negative workplace situations affect outcomes and behavior not only at the individual level, but also in terms of strategic decision-making processes at the organizational level. These authors focus on affective events theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996 ), which holds that organizational events trigger affective responses in organizational members, which in turn affect organizational attitudes, cognition, and behavior.

Perceptions and Behavior

Like personality, emotions, moods, and attitudes, perceptions also influence employees’ behaviors in the workplace. Perception is the way in which people organize and interpret sensory cues in order to give meaning to their surroundings. It can be influenced by time, work setting, social setting, other contextual factors such as time of day, time of year, temperature, a target’s clothing or appearance, as well as personal trait dispositions, attitudes, and value systems. In fact, a person’s behavior is based on her or his perception of reality—not necessarily the same as actual reality. Perception greatly influences individual decision-making because individuals base their behaviors on their perceptions of reality. In this regard, attribution theory (Martinko, 1995 ) outlines how individuals judge others and is our attempt to conclude whether a person’s behavior is internally or externally caused.

Decision-Making and the Role of Perception

Decision-making occurs as a reaction to a problem when the individual perceives there to be discrepancy between the current state of affairs and the state s/he desires. As such, decisions are the choices individuals make from a set of alternative courses of action. Each individual interprets information in her or his own way and decides which information is relevant to weigh pros and cons of each decision and its alternatives to come to her or his perception of the best outcome. In other words, each of our unique perceptual processes influences the final outcome (Janis & Mann, 1977 ).

Common Biases in Decision-Making

Although there is no perfect model for approaching decision-making, there are nonetheless many biases that individuals can make themselves aware of in order to maximize their outcomes. First, overconfidence bias is an inclination to overestimate the correctness of a decision. Those most likely to commit this error tend to be people with weak intellectual and interpersonal abilities. Anchoring bias occurs when individuals focus on the first information they receive, failing to adjust for information received subsequently. Marketers tend to use anchors in order to make impressions on clients quickly and project their brand names. Confirmation bias occurs when individuals only use facts that support their decisions while discounting all contrary views. Lastly, availability bias occurs when individuals base their judgments on information readily available. For example, a manager might rate an employee on a performance appraisal based on behavior in the past few days, rather than the past six months or year.

Errors in Decision-Making

Other errors in decision-making include hindsight bias and escalation of commitment . Hindsight bias is a tendency to believe, incorrectly, after an outcome of an event has already happened, that the decision-maker would have accurately predicted that same outcome. Furthermore, this bias, despite its prevalence, is especially insidious because it inhibits the ability to learn from the past and take responsibility for mistakes. Escalation of commitment is an inclination to continue with a chosen course of action instead of listening to negative feedback regarding that choice. When individuals feel responsible for their actions and those consequences, they escalate commitment probably because they have invested so much into making that particular decision. One solution to escalating commitment is to seek a source of clear, less distorted feedback (Staw, 1981 ).

The last but certainly not least important individual level topic is motivation. Like each of the topics discussed so far, a worker’s motivation is also influenced by individual differences and situational context. Motivation can be defined as the processes that explain a person’s intensity, direction, and persistence toward reaching a goal. Work motivation has often been viewed as the set of energetic forces that determine the form, direction, intensity, and duration of behavior (Latham & Pinder, 2005 ). Motivation can be further described as the persistence toward a goal. In fact many non-academics would probably describe it as the extent to which a person wants and tries to do well at a particular task (Mitchell, 1982 ).

Early theories of motivation began with Maslow’s ( 1943 ) hierarchy of needs theory, which holds that each person has five needs in hierarchical order: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization. These constitute the “lower-order” needs, while social and esteem needs are “higher-order” needs. Self-esteem for instance underlies motivation from the time of childhood. Another early theory is McGregor’s ( 1960 ) X-Y theory of motivation: Theory X is the concept whereby individuals must be pushed to work; and theory Y is positive, embodying the assumption that employees naturally like work and responsibility and can exercise self-direction.

Herzberg subsequently proposed the “two-factor theory” that attitude toward work can determine whether an employee succeeds or fails. Herzberg ( 1966 ) relates intrinsic factors, like advancement in a job, recognition, praise, and responsibility to increased job satisfaction, while extrinsic factors like the organizational climate, relationship with supervisor, and salary relate to job dissatisfaction. In other words, the hygiene factors are associated with the work context while the motivators are associated with the intrinsic factors associated with job motivation.

Contemporary Theories of Motivation

Although traditional theories of motivation still appear in OB textbooks, there is unfortunately little empirical data to support their validity. More contemporary theories of motivation, with more acceptable research validity, include self-determination theory , which holds that people prefer to have control over their actions. If a task an individual enjoyed now feels like a chore, then this will undermine motivation. Higher self-determined motivation (or intrinsically determined motivation) is correlated with increased wellbeing, job satisfaction, commitment, and decreased burnout and turnover intent. In this regard, Fernet, Gagne, and Austin ( 2010 ) found that work motivation relates to reactions to interpersonal relationships at work and organizational burnout. Thus, by supporting work self-determination, managers can help facilitate adaptive employee organizational behaviors while decreasing turnover intention (Richer, Blanchard, & Vallerand, 2002 ).

Core self-evaluation (CSE) theory is a relatively new concept that relates to self-confidence in general, such that people with higher CSE tend to be more committed to goals (Bono & Colbert, 2005 ). These core self-evaluations also extend to interpersonal relationships, as well as employee creativity. Employees with higher CSE are more likely to trust coworkers, which may also contribute to increased motivation for goal attainment (Johnson, Kristof-Brown, van Vianen, de Pater, & Klein, 2003 ). In general, employees with positive CSE tend to be more intrinsically motivated, thus additionally playing a role in increasing employee creativity (Judge, Bono, Erez, & Locke, 2005 ). Finally, according to research by Amabile ( 1996 ), intrinsic motivation or self-determined goal attainment is critical in facilitating employee creativity.

Goal-Setting and Conservation of Resources

While self-determination theory and CSE focus on the reward system behind motivation and employee work behaviors, Locke and Latham’s ( 1990 ) goal-setting theory specifically addresses the impact that goal specificity, challenge, and feedback has on motivation and performance. These authors posit that our performance is increased when specific and difficult goals are set, rather than ambiguous and general goals. Goal-setting seems to be an important motivational tool, but it is important that the employee has had a chance to take part in the goal-setting process so they are more likely to attain their goals and perform highly.

Related to goal-setting is Hobfoll’s ( 1989 ) conservation of resources (COR) theory, which holds that people have a basic motivation to obtain, maintain, and protect what they value (i.e., their resources). Additionally there is a global application of goal-setting theory for each of the motivation theories. Not enough research has been conducted regarding the value of goal-setting in global contexts, however, and because of this, goal-setting is not recommended without consideration of cultural and work-related differences (Konopaske & Ivancevich, 2004 ).

Self-Efficacy and Motivation

Other motivational theories include self-efficacy theory, and reinforcement, equity, and expectancy theories. Self-efficacy or social cognitive or learning theory is an individual’s belief that s/he can perform a task (Bandura, 1977 ). This theory complements goal-setting theory in that self-efficacy is higher when a manager assigns a difficult task because employees attribute the manager’s behavior to him or her thinking that the employee is capable; the employee in turn feels more confident and capable.

Reinforcement theory (Skinner, 1938 ) counters goal-setting theory insofar as it is a behaviorist approach rather than cognitive and is based in the notion that reinforcement conditions behavior, or in other words focuses on external causes rather than the value an individual attributes to goals. Furthermore, this theory instead emphasizes the behavior itself rather than what precedes the behavior. Additionally, managers may use operant conditioning, a part of behaviorism, to reinforce people to act in a desired way.

Social-learning theory (Bandura, 1977 ) extends operant conditioning and also acknowledges the influence of observational learning and perception, and the fact that people can learn and retain information by paying attention, observing, and modeling the desired behavior.

Equity theory (Adams, 1963 ) looks at how employees compare themselves to others and how that affects their motivation and in turn their organizational behaviors. Employees who perceive inequity for instance, will either change how much effort they are putting in (their inputs), change or distort their perceptions (either of self or others in relation to work), change their outcomes, turnover, or choose a different referent (acknowledge performance in relation to another employee but find someone else they can be better than).

Last but not least, Vroom’s ( 1964 ) expectancy theory holds that individuals are motivated by the extent to which they can see that their effort is likely to result in valued outcomes. This theory has received strong support in empirical research (see Van Erde & Thierry, 1996 , for meta-analytic results). Like each of the preceding theories, expectancy theory has important implications that managers should consider. For instance, managers should communicate with employees to determine their preferences to know what rewards to offer subordinates to elicit motivation. Managers can also make sure to identify and communicate clearly the level of performance they desire from an employee, as well as to establish attainable goals with the employee and to be very clear and precise about how and when performance will be rewarded (Konopaske & Ivancevich, 2004 ).

The Meso (Group) Level of Analysis

The second level of OB research also emerges from social and organizational psychology and relates to groups or teams. Topics covered so far include individual differences: diversity, personality and emotions, values and attitudes, motivation, and decision-making. Thus, in this section, attention turns to how individuals come together to form groups and teams, and begins laying the foundation for understanding the dynamics of group and team behavior. Topics at this level also include communication, leadership, power and politics, and conflict.

A group consists of two or more individuals who come together to achieve a similar goal. Groups can be formal or informal. A formal group on the one hand is assigned by the organization’s management and is a component of the organization’s structure. An informal group on the other hand is not determined by the organization and often forms in response to a need for social contact. Teams are formal groups that come together to meet a specific group goal.

Although groups are thought to go through five stages of development (Tuckman, 1965 : forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning) and to transition to effectiveness at the halfway mark (Gersick, 1988 ), group effectiveness is in fact far more complex. For example, two types of conformity to group norms are possible: compliance (just going along with the group’s norms but not accepting them) and personal acceptance (when group members’ individual beliefs match group norms). Behavior in groups then falls into required behavior usually defined by the formal group and emergent behavior that grows out of interactions among group members (Champoux, 2011 ).

Group Decision-Making

Although many of the decisions made in organizations occur in groups and teams, such decisions are not necessarily optimal. Groups may have more complex knowledge and increased perspectives than individuals but may suffer from conformity pressures or domination by one or two members. Group decision-making has the potential to be affected by groupthink or group shift. In groupthink , group pressures to conform to the group norms deter the group from thinking of alternative courses of action (Janis & Mann, 1977 ). In the past, researchers attempted to explain the effects of group discussion on decision-making through the following approaches: group decision rules, interpersonal comparisons, and informational influence. Myers and Lamm ( 1976 ), however, present a conceptual schema comprised of interpersonal comparisons and informational influence approaches that focus on attitude development in a more social context. They found that their research is consistent with the group polarization hypothesis: The initial majority predicts the consensus outcome 90% of the time. The term group polarization was founded in Serge Moscovici and his colleagues’ literature (e.g., Moscovici & Zavalloni, 1969 ). Polarization refers to an increase in the extremity of the average response of the subject population.

In other words, the Myer and Lamm ( 1976 ) schema is based on the idea that four elements feed into one another: social motivation, cognitive foundation, attitude change, and action commitment. Social motivation (comparing self with others in order to be perceived favorably) feeds into cognitive foundation , which in turn feeds into attitude change and action commitment . Managers of organizations can help reduce the negative phenomena and increase the likelihood of functional groups by encouraging brainstorming or openly looking at alternatives in the process of decision-making such as the nominal group technique (which involves restricting interpersonal communication in order to encourage free thinking and proceeding to a decision in a formal and systematic fashion such as voting).

Elements of Team Performance

OB researchers typically focus on team performance and especially the factors that make teams most effective. Researchers (e.g., see De Dreu & Van Vianen, 2001 ) have organized the critical components of effective teams into three main categories: context, composition, and process. Context refers to the team’s physical and psychological environment, and in particular the factors that enable a climate of trust. Composition refers to the means whereby the abilities of each individual member can best be most effectively marshaled. Process is maximized when members have a common goal or are able to reflect and adjust the team plan (for reflexivity, see West, 1996 ).


In order to build high-performing work teams, communication is critical, especially if team conflict is to be minimized. Communication serves four main functions: control, motivation, emotional expression, and information (Scott & Mitchell, 1976 ). The communication process involves the transfer of meaning from a sender to a receiver through formal channels established by an organization and informal channels, created spontaneously and emerging out of individual choice. Communication can flow downward from managers to subordinates, upward from subordinates to managers, or between members of the same group. Meaning can be transferred from one person to another orally, through writing, or nonverbally through facial expressions and body movement. In fact, body movement and body language may complicate verbal communication and add ambiguity to the situation as does physical distance between team members.

High-performance teams tend to have some of the following characteristics: interpersonal trust, psychological and physical safety, openness to challenges and ideas, an ability to listen to other points of view, and an ability to share knowledge readily to reduce task ambiguity (Castka, Bamber, Sharp, & Belohoubek, 2001 ). Although the development of communication competence is essential for a work team to become high-performing, that communication competence is also influenced by gender, personality, ability, and emotional intelligence of the members. Ironically, it is the self-reliant team members who are often able to develop this communication competence. Although capable of working autonomously, self-reliant team members know when to ask for support from others and act interdependently.

Emotions also play a part in communicating a message or attitude to other team members. Emotional contagion, for instance, is a fascinating effect of emotions on nonverbal communication, and it is the subconscious process of sharing another person’s emotions by mimicking that team member’s nonverbal behavior (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1993 ). Importantly, positive communication, expressions, and support of team members distinguished high-performing teams from low-performing ones (Bakker & Schaufeli, 2008 ).

Team Conflict

Because of member interdependence, teams are inclined to more conflict than individual workers. In particular, diversity in individual differences leads to conflict (Thomas, 1992 ; Wall & Callister, 1995 ; see also Cohen & Bailey, 1997 ). Jehn ( 1997 ) identifies three types of conflict: task, relationship, and process. Process conflict concerns how task accomplishment should proceed and who is responsible for what; task conflict focuses on the actual content and goals of the work (Robbins et al., 2014 ); and relationship conflict is based on differences in interpersonal relationships. While conflict, and especially task conflict, does have some positive benefits such as greater innovation (Tjosvold, 1997 ), it can also lead to lowered team performance and decreased job satisfaction, or even turnover. De Dreu and Van Vianen ( 2001 ) found that team conflict can result in one of three responses: (1) collaborating with others to find an acceptable solution; (2) contending and pushing one member’s perspective on others; or (3) avoiding and ignoring the problem.

Team Effectiveness and Relationship Conflict

Team effectiveness can suffer in particular from relationship conflict, which may threaten team members’ personal identities and self-esteem (Pelled, 1995 ). In this regard, Murnighan and Conlon ( 1991 ) studied members of British string quartets and found that the most successful teams avoided relationship conflict while collaborating to resolve task conflicts. This may be because relationship conflict distracts team members from the task, reducing team performance and functioning. As noted earlier, positive affect is associated with collaboration, cooperation, and problem resolution, while negative affect tends to be associated with competitive behaviors, especially during conflict (Rhoades, Arnold, & Jay, 2001 ).

Team Climate and Emotionality

Emotional climate is now recognized as important to team processes (Ashkanasy & Härtel, 2014 ), and team climate in general has important implications for how individuals behave individually and collectively to effect organizational outcomes. This idea is consistent with Druskat and Wolff’s ( 2001 ) notion that team emotional-intelligence climate can help a team manage both types of conflict (task and relationship). In Jehn’s ( 1997 ) study, she found that emotion was most often negative during team conflict, and this had a negative effect on performance and satisfaction regardless of the type of conflict team members were experiencing. High emotionality, as Jehn calls it, causes team members to lose sight of the work task and focus instead on the negative affect. Jehn noted, however, that absence of group conflict might also may block innovative ideas and stifle creativity (Jehn, 1997 ).

Power and Politics

Power and organizational politics can trigger employee conflict, thus affecting employee wellbeing, job satisfaction, and performance, in turn affecting team and organizational productivity (Vigoda, 2000 ). Because power is a function of dependency, it can often lead to unethical behavior and thus become a source of conflict. Types of power include formal and personal power. Formal power embodies coercive, reward, and legitimate power. Coercive power depends on fear. Reward power is the opposite and occurs when an individual complies because s/he receives positive benefits from acting in accordance with the person in power. In formal groups and organizations, the most easily accessed form of power is legitimate because this form comes to be from one’s position in the organizational hierarchy (Raven, 1993 ). Power tactics represent the means by which those in a position of power translate their power base (formal or personal) into specific actions.

The nine influence tactics that managers use according to Yukl and Tracey ( 1992 ) are (1) rational persuasion, (2) inspirational appeal, (3) consultation, (4) ingratiation, (5) exchange, (6) personal appeal, (7) coalition, (8) legitimating, and (9) pressure. Of these tactics, inspirational appeal, consultation, and rational persuasion were among the strategies most effective in influencing task commitment. In this study, there was also a correlation found between a manager’s rational persuasion and a subordinate rating her effectively. Perhaps this is because persuasion requires some level of expertise, although more research is needed to verify which methods are most successful. Moreover, resource dependence theory dominates much theorizing about power and organizational politics. In fact, it is one of the central themes of Pfeffer and Salancik’s ( 1973 ) treatise on the external control of organizations. First, the theory emphasizes the importance of the organizational environment in understanding the context of how decisions of power are made (see also Pfeffer & Leblebici, 1973 ). Resource dependence theory is based on the premise that some organizations have more power than others, occasioned by specifics regarding their interdependence. Pfeffer and Salancik further propose that external interdependence and internal organizational processes are related and that this relationship is mediated by power.

Organizational Politics

Political skill is the ability to use power tactics to influence others to enhance an individual’s personal objectives. In addition, a politically skilled person is able to influence another person without being detected (one reason why he or she is effective). Persons exerting political skill leave a sense of trust and sincerity with the people they interact with. An individual possessing a high level of political skill must understand the organizational culture they are exerting influence within in order to make an impression on his or her target. While some researchers suggest political behavior is a critical way to understand behavior that occurs in organizations, others simply see it as a necessary evil of work life (Champoux, 2011 ). Political behavior focuses on using power to reach a result and can be viewed as unofficial and unsanctioned behavior (Mintzberg, 1985 ). Unlike other organizational processes, political behavior involves both power and influence (Mayes & Allen, 1977 ). Moreover, because political behavior involves the use of power to influence others, it can often result in conflict.

Organizational Politics, Power, and Ethics

In concluding this section on power and politics, it is also appropriate to address the dark side, where organizational members who are persuasive and powerful enough might become prone to abuse standards of equity and justice and thereby engage in unethical behavior. An employee who takes advantage of her position of power may use deception, lying, or intimidation to advance her own interests (Champoux, 2011 ). When exploring interpersonal injustice, it is important to consider the intent of the perpetrator, as well as the effect of the perpetrator’s treatment from the victim’s point of view. Umphress, Simmons, Folger, Ren, and Bobocel ( 2013 ) found in this regard that not only does injustice perceived by the self or coworkers influence attitudes and behavior within organizations, but injustice also influences observer reactions both inside and outside of the organization.

Leadership plays an integrative part in understanding group behavior, because the leader is engaged in directing individuals toward attitudes and behaviors, hopefully also in the direction of those group members’ goals. Although there is no set of universal leadership traits, extraversion from the Big Five personality framework has been shown in meta-analytic studies to be positively correlated with transformational, while neuroticism appears to be negatively correlated (Bono & Judge, 2004 ). There are also various perspectives to leadership, including the competency perspective, which addresses the personality traits of leaders; the behavioral perspective, which addresses leader behaviors, specifically task versus people-oriented leadership; and the contingency perspective, which is based on the idea that leadership involves an interaction of personal traits and situational factors. Fiedler’s ( 1967 ) contingency, for example, suggests that leader effectiveness depends on the person’s natural fit to the situation and the leader’s score on a “least preferred coworker” scale.

More recently identified styles of leadership include transformational leadership (Bass, Avolio, & Atwater, 1996 ), charismatic leadership (Conger & Kanungo, 1988 ), and authentic leadership (Luthans & Avolio, 2003 ). In a nutshell, transformational leaders inspire followers to act based on the good of the organization; charismatic leaders project a vision and convey a new set of values; and authentic leaders convey trust and genuine sentiment.

Leader-member exchange theory (LMX; see Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995 ) assumes that leadership emerges from exchange relationships between a leader and her or his followers. More recently, Tse, Troth, and Ashkanasy ( 2015 ) expanded on LMX to include social processes (e.g., emotional intelligence, emotional labor, and discrete emotions), arguing that affect plays a large part in the leader-member relationship.

Leadership Development

An emerging new topic in leadership concerns leadership development, which embodies the readiness of leadership aspirants to change (Hannah & Avolio, 2010 ). In this regard, the learning literature suggests that intrinsic motivation is necessary in order to engage in development (see Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000 ), but also that the individual needs to be goal-oriented and have developmental efficacy or self-confidence that s/he can successfully perform in leadership contexts.

Ashkanasy, Dasborough, and Ascough ( 2009 ) argue further that developing the affective side of leaders is important. In this case, because emotions are so pervasive within organizations, it is important that leaders learn how to manage them in order to improve team performance and interactions with employees that affect attitudes and behavior at almost every organizational level.

Abusive Leadership

Leaders, or those in positions of power, are particularly more likely to run into ethical issues, and only more recently have organizational behavior researchers considered the ethical implications of leadership. As Gallagher, Mazur, and Ashkanasy ( 2015 ) describe, since 2009 , organizations have been under increasing pressure to cut costs or “do more with less,” and this sometimes can lead to abusive supervision, whereby employee job demands exceed employee resources, and supervisors engage in bullying, undermining, victimization, or personal attacks on subordinates (Tepper, 2000 ).

Supervisors who are very high or low in emotional intelligence may be more likely to experience stress associated with a very demanding high-performance organizational culture. These supervisors may be more likely to try to meet the high demands and pressures through manipulative behaviors (Kilduff, Chiaburu, & Menges, 2010 ). This has serious implications for employee wellbeing and the organization as a whole. Abusive supervision detracts from the ability for those under attack to perform effectively, and targets often come to doubt their own ability to perform (Tepper, 2000 ).

The Macro (Organizational) Level of Analysis

The final level of OB derives from research traditions across three disciplines: organizational psychology, organizational sociology, and organizational anthropology. Moreover, just as teams and groups are more than the sum of their individual team members, organizations are also more than the sum of the teams or groups residing within them. As such, structure, climate, and culture play key roles in shaping and being shaped by employee attitudes and behaviors, and they ultimately determine organizational performance and productivity.

Organizational Structure

Organizational structure is a sociological phenomenon that determines the way tasks are formally divided and coordinated within an organization. In this regard, jobs are often grouped by the similarity of functions performed, the product or service produced, or the geographical location. Often, the number of forms of departmentalization will depend on the size of the organization, with larger organizations having more forms of departmentalization than others. Organizations are also organized by the chain of command or the hierarchy of authority that determines the span of control, or how many employees a manager can efficiently and effectively lead. With efforts to reduce costs since the global financial crisis of 2009 , organizations have tended to adopt a wider, flatter span of control, where more employees report to one supervisor.

Organizational structure also concerns the level of centralization or decentralization, the degree to which decision-making is focused at a single point within an organization. Formalization is also the degree to which jobs are organized in an organization. These levels are determined by the organization and also vary greatly across the world. For example, Finnish organizations tend to be more decentralized than their Australian counterparts and, as a consequence, are more innovative (Leiponen & Helfat, 2011 ).

Mintzberg ( 1979 ) was the first to set out a taxonomy of organizational structure. Within his model, the most common organizational design is the simple structure characterized by a low level of departmentalization, a wide span of control, and centralized authority. Other organizational types emerge in larger organizations, which tend to be bureaucratic and more routinized. Rules are formalized, tasks are grouped into departments, authority is centralized, and the chain of command involves narrow spans of control and decision-making. An alternative is the matrix structure, often found in hospitals, universities, and government agencies. This form of organization combines functional and product departmentalization where employees answer to two bosses: functional department managers and product managers.

New design options include the virtual organization and the boundaryless organization , an organization that has no chain of command and limitless spans of control. Structures differ based on whether the organization seeks to use an innovation strategy, imitation strategy, or cost-minimization strategy (Galunic & Eisenhardt, 1994 ). Organizational structure can have a significant effect on employee attitudes and behavior. Evidence generally shows that work specialization leads to higher employee productivity but also lower job satisfaction (Porter & Lawler, 1965 ). Gagné and Deci emphasize that autonomous work motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation and integrated extrinsic motivation) is promoted in work climates that are interesting, challenging, and allow choice. Parker, Wall, and Jackson ( 1997 ) specifically relate job enlargement to autonomous motivation. Job enlargement was first discussed by management theorists like Lawler and Hall ( 1970 ), who believed that jobs should be enlarged to improve the intrinsic motivation of workers. Today, most of the job-design literature is built around the issue of work specialization (job enlargement and enrichment). In Parker, Wall, and Jackson’s study, they observed that horizontally enlarging jobs through team-based assembly cells led to greater understanding and acceptance of the company’s vision and more engagement in new work roles. (In sum, by structuring work to allow more autonomy among employees and identification among individual work groups, employees stand to gain more internal autonomous motivation leading to improved work outcomes (van Knippenberg & van Schie, 2000 ).

The Physical Environment of Work

Ashkanasy, Ayoko, and Jehn ( 2014 ) extend the topic of organizational structure to discuss, from a psychological perspective, how the physical work environment shapes employee attitudes, behaviors, and organizational outcomes. Elsbach ( 2003 ) pointed out that the space within which employees conduct their work is critical to employees’ levels of performance and productivity. In their study, Ashkanasy and his colleagues looked at the underlying processes influencing how the physical environment determines employee attitudes and behaviors, in turn affecting productivity levels. They base their model on affective events theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996 ), which holds that particular “affective” events in the work environment are likely to be the immediate cause of employee behavior and performance in organizations (see also Ashkanasy & Humphrey, 2011 ). Specifically, Ashkanasy and colleagues ( 2014 ) looked at how this theory holds in extremely crowded open-plan office designs and how employees in these offices are more likely to experience negative affect, conflict, and territoriality, negatively impacting attitudes, behaviors, and work performance.

  • Organizational Climate and Culture

Although organizational structure and the physical environment are important determinants of employee attitudes and behaviors, organizational culture and climate lie at the heart of organizational interactions (Ashkanasy & Jackson, 2001 ). Organizational culture derives from an anthropological research tradition, while organizational climate is based on organizational psychology.

A central presumption of culture is that, as Smircich ( 1983 ) noted, organizational behavior is not a function of what goes on inside individual employees’ heads, but between employees, as evidenced in daily organizational communication and language. As such, organizational culture allows one organization to distinguish itself from another, while conveying a sense of identity for its members.

Organizational Climate and its Relation to Organizational Culture

Organizational culture creates organizational climate or employees’ shared perceptions about their organization and work environment. Organizational climate has been found to facilitate and/or inhibit displays of certain behaviors in one study (Smith-Crowe, Burke, & Landis, 2003 ), and overall, organizational climate is often viewed as a surface-level indicator of the functioning of the employee/organizational environment relationship (Ryan, Horvath, Ployhart, Schmitt, & Slade, 2000 ). For instance, a more restrictive climate may inhibit individual decision-making in contrast to a more supportive climate in which the organization may intervene at the individual level and in which the ability/job performance relationship is supported (James, Demaree, Mulaik, & Ladd, 1992 ). In a study focused on safety climate, Smith-Crowe and colleagues found that organizational climate is essential in determining whether training will transfer to employee performance, and this is most likely because organizational climate moderates the knowledge/performance relationship. Gibbs and Cooper ( 2010 ) also found that a supportive organizational climate is positively related to employee performance. They specifically looked at PsyCap, the higher-order construct of psychological capital first proposed by Luthans and Youssef ( 2004 ).

Organizational Change

The final topic covered in this article is organizational change. Organizational culture and climate can both be negatively impacted by organizational change and, in turn, negatively affect employee wellbeing, attitudes, and performance, reflecting onto organizational performance. Often, there is great resistance to change, and the success rate of organizational change initiatives averages at less than 30% (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015 ). In order to overcome this resistance, it is important that managers plan ahead for changes and emphasize education and communication about them. As organizations becoming increasingly globalized, change has become the norm, and this will continue into the future.

Additionally, as organizations become increasingly globalized, organizational changes often involve mergers that have important organizational implications. In this regard, Kavanagh and Ashkanasy ( 2006 ) found that, for a merger to be successful, there needs to be alignment between the individual values and organizational cultures of merging partners. Managers during a merger situation need to be especially cognizant of how this organizational change affects the company’s original organizational culture.

Organizational development (OD), a collection of planned change interventions, may be the way to improve organizational performance and increase employee wellbeing. OD focuses on employees respecting one another, trust and support, equal power, confrontation of problems, and participation of everyone affected by the organizational change (Lines, 2004 ). Moreover, when an organization already has an established climate and culture that support change and innovation, an organization may have less trouble adapting to the change.

Organizational change research encompasses almost all aspects of organizational behavior. Individuals and employees are motivated to achieve success and be perceived as successful. In this regard, each of the individual differences—personality, affect, past experiences, values, and perceptions—plays into whether individuals can transcend obstacles and deal with the barriers encountered along the journey toward achievement. Teams are similarly motivated to be successful in a collective sense and to prove that they contribute to the organization as a whole. In addition to individual differences, team members deal with bringing all those individual differences together, which can wreak havoc on team communication and cause further obstacles in terms of power differences and conflicts in regard to decision-making processes. Last, at the organizational level of organizational behavior, it is important to account for all of these micro- and meso-level differences, and to address the complexity of economic pressures, increasing globalization, and global and transnational organizations to the mix. This is at the top level of sophistication because, as emphasized before, just as groups equal much more than the sum of individual members, organizations are much more than the sum of their teams. The organizational structure, the formal organization, the organizational culture, and climate and organizational rules all impact whether an organization can perform effectively. Organizational behavior, through its complex study of human behavior at its very conception, offers much-needed practical implications for managers in understanding people at work.

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Organizational Behavior Research Paper Topics

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This page provides a comprehensive list of 100 organizational behavior research paper topics that are divided into 10 categories, each containing 10 topics. These categories include communication and teamwork, organizational culture and climate, employee motivation and engagement, organizational leadership, diversity and inclusion, organizational communication, employee well-being and work-life balance, organizational change, human resource management, and organizational ethics and corporate social responsibility. In addition to the list of topics, the page also provides expert advice on how to choose a research topic and how to write an organizational behavior research paper. Finally, students can take advantage of iResearchNet’s writing services to order a custom organizational behavior research paper on any topic. With this page, students will be able to explore the wide range of topics in organizational behavior and excel in their academic pursuits.

Organizational Behavior Topics Guide

Organizational behavior is an important field of study that focuses on how individuals and groups behave in organizations. It is a multidisciplinary field that draws on insights from psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and management. Understanding organizational behavior is crucial for individuals who are interested in careers in management, human resources, or organizational development. Research papers are an important aspect of studying organizational behavior, as they allow students to explore various aspects of this field in-depth.

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The purpose of this page is to provide students with a comprehensive list of organizational behavior research paper topics that will help them choose a topic for their research paper. The page is divided into 10 categories, each containing 10 topics. The categories include communication and teamwork, organizational culture and climate, employee motivation and engagement, organizational leadership, diversity and inclusion, organizational communication, employee well-being and work-life balance, organizational change, human resource management, and organizational ethics and corporate social responsibility. By providing a wide range of topics, students can find one that aligns with their interests and career goals.

Organizational Behavior Research Paper Topics

100 Organizational Behavior Research Paper Topics

Communication and Teamwork

1. Communication barriers in the workplace 2. Interpersonal communication and conflict resolution 3. The effects of technology on communication and teamwork 4. Cultural diversity and communication in global organizations 5. Communication strategies for effective leadership 6. Group dynamics and team performance 7. Decision-making processes in teams 8. Motivation and satisfaction in team-based work environments 9. Leadership styles and their impact on team effectiveness 10. Team training and development programs

Organizational Culture and Climate

1. The impact of organizational culture on employee behavior 2. The role of leadership in shaping organizational culture 3. Organizational change and resistance to change 4. Organizational culture and innovation 5. Ethical climates in organizations 6. Managing cultural diversity in organizations 7. The impact of organizational culture on employee well-being 8. Measuring and assessing organizational culture 9. The relationship between organizational culture and performance 10. The impact of organizational climate on employee motivation and job satisfaction

Employee Motivation and Engagement

1. Theories of employee motivation and their application in the workplace 2. The role of incentives and rewards in employee motivation 3. The impact of job design on employee motivation and engagement 4. The relationship between job satisfaction and employee motivation 5. Employee engagement and its impact on organizational performance 6. Employee empowerment and motivation 7. The role of leadership in employee motivation and engagement 8. The impact of organizational culture on employee motivation 9. Employee motivation and retention strategies 10. Employee motivation and its impact on organizational change

Organizational Leadership

1. Theories of leadership and their application in the workplace 2. Transformational leadership and its impact on organizational performance 3. Authentic leadership and its impact on organizational culture 4. Situational leadership and its effectiveness in different contexts 5. Servant leadership and its impact on employee well-being 6. The relationship between leadership and employee motivation 7. The impact of gender and cultural diversity on leadership 8. The role of emotional intelligence in leadership 9. The impact of leadership on organizational change 10. Developing effective leadership skills

Diversity and Inclusion

1. Defining diversity and inclusion in the workplace 2. The business case for diversity and inclusion 3. The relationship between diversity and innovation 4. Overcoming diversity challenges in global organizations 5. Managing diversity and inclusion through leadership 6. The impact of cultural diversity on team performance 7. Addressing diversity and inclusion in performance evaluations 8. The role of diversity and inclusion in employee retention 9. The impact of diversity and inclusion on organizational culture 10. Strategies for developing and implementing effective diversity and inclusion initiatives

Organizational Communication

1. The impact of communication on organizational effectiveness 2. Organizational communication strategies 3. Internal communication and its impact on employee engagement 4. The role of communication in change management 5. The impact of technology on organizational communication 6. The relationship between communication and organizational culture 7. The impact of communication on employee motivation and satisfaction 8. The role of nonverbal communication in organizational behavior 9. The impact of communication on organizational reputation 10. The role of feedback in organizational communication

Employee Well-being and Work-Life Balance

1. The impact of work-life balance on employee well-being 2. The relationship between stress and employee performance 3. Mental health in the workplace 4. Workplace wellness programs 5. The role of leadership in promoting employee well-being 6. The impact of job demands and resources on employee well-being 7. The impact of work schedule flexibility on employee well-being 8. The impact of job security on employee well-being 9. Burnout and its impact on employee well-being 10. Developing effective work-life balance policies

  Organizational Change

1. Theories of organizational change 2. Managing resistance to change 3. The role of leadership in organizational change 4. The impact of organizational culture on change management 5. The role of communication in change management 6. The impact of technology on organizational change 7. The impact of organizational change on employee motivation and satisfaction 8. The role of employee involvement in change management 9. Change management strategies for global organizations 10. The impact of organizational change on organizational performance

Human Resource Management

1. Recruitment and selection strategies 2. Performance management and appraisal 3. Training and development programs 4. The impact of compensation and benefits on employee motivation 5. The role of HR in promoting diversity and inclusion 6. The impact of technology on HRM 7. The impact of employee turnover on organizational performance 8. Employee retention strategies 9. HR metrics and analytics 10. HR strategy and its impact on organizational performance

Organizational Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

1. The importance of ethical behavior in organizations 2. Ethical decision-making processes in organizations 3. The impact of corporate social responsibility on organizational performance 4. The relationship between ethics and organizational culture 5. Ethical leadership and its impact on employee behavior 6. The role of codes of ethics in organizations 7. The impact of social media on organizational ethics 8. The impact of globalization on organizational ethics 9. The role of stakeholders in promoting ethical behavior 10. Developing ethical organizational policies

Choosing an Organizational Behavior Topic

Choosing a research topic can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many organizational behavior research paper topics to choose from. The key to choosing a successful topic is to select one that is relevant, interesting, and manageable. In this section, we provide expert advice on how to choose an organizational behavior research paper topic that will help students succeed in their academic pursuits.

The importance of choosing a relevant and interesting topic

The first step in choosing an organizational behavior research paper topic is to select a relevant and interesting topic. A relevant topic is one that aligns with the course curriculum and the student’s area of interest. An interesting topic is one that is engaging and will hold the student’s attention throughout the research and writing process. Choosing a relevant and interesting topic is important because it will make the research and writing process more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Tips for choosing a topic that aligns with the student’s interests and career goals

To choose a topic that aligns with the student’s interests and career goals, it is important to consider what topics are relevant to the student’s area of study and future career aspirations. Students should consider their personal interests, as well as the interests of potential employers. They should also consider the latest trends and developments in the field of organizational behavior, and choose a topic that is timely and relevant.

How to narrow down a broad topic into a manageable research question

Once a broad topic has been selected, it is important to narrow it down into a manageable research question. This can be done by breaking the topic down into smaller, more manageable sub-topics. Students should consider the scope of the topic and the available resources, and choose a research question that is focused and manageable.

Examples of how to brainstorm ideas for research topics

Brainstorming is an effective way to generate ideas for research topics. Students can start by listing the topics that interest them and then narrowing down the list to the most relevant and interesting topics. They can also read academic journals and textbooks to identify current trends and issues in organizational behavior. Finally, they can talk to their instructors or peers to get ideas and feedback.

How to conduct preliminary research

Before choosing a research topic, it is important to conduct preliminary research to ensure that the topic is feasible and has enough available resources. Students can start by conducting a literature review to identify the latest research on the topic. They can also use online databases and search engines to find relevant articles and publications. Finally, they can consult with their instructors or academic advisors to get advice on the available resources and potential research topics.

Choosing the right organizational behavior research paper topic is essential for success in academic pursuits. By following these expert tips and advice, students can choose a relevant and interesting topic, narrow it down into a manageable research question, and conduct preliminary research to ensure the topic is feasible and has enough available resources.

How to Write an Organizational Behavior Research Paper

Once a research topic has been chosen, the next step is to write the research paper. Writing an organizational behavior research paper can be a challenging task, but with the right guidance and strategies, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. In this section, we provide expert advice on how to write an organizational behavior research paper.

The structure and format of a research paper

The structure and format of an organizational behavior research paper should follow the standard guidelines for academic research papers. It should include an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and discussion sections. The introduction should provide an overview of the research topic and the purpose of the study. The literature review should summarize the relevant research on the topic. The methodology section should describe the research design, sample, and data collection methods. The results section should present the findings of the study, and the discussion section should interpret the results and provide conclusions and recommendations.

How to conduct research and gather sources

To conduct research and gather sources for an organizational behavior research paper, students should start by conducting a literature review. This involves searching for relevant articles and publications on the research topic. Students can use online databases, search engines, and academic journals to find relevant sources. They should also consider the credibility and relevance of the sources they choose, and use a variety of sources to support their arguments.

How to organize and outline the paper

Organizing and outlining an organizational behavior research paper is an important step in the writing process. Students should start by creating an outline that includes the major sections of the paper and the key points they want to make in each section. They should then organize their sources and research findings according to the outline. This will help them write a clear and coherent paper.

How to write an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and discussion sections

Each section of an organizational behavior research paper has a specific purpose and format. The introduction should provide an overview of the research topic and the purpose of the study. The literature review should summarize the relevant research on the topic. The methodology section should describe the research design, sample, and data collection methods. The results section should present the findings of the study, and the discussion section should interpret the results and provide conclusions and recommendations. Students should use clear and concise language and support their arguments with relevant sources and research findings.

How to properly cite sources and format the paper

Properly citing sources and formatting the paper is essential for academic integrity and professionalism. Students should follow the guidelines for the appropriate citation style, such as APA or MLA. They should also ensure that the paper is formatted according to the guidelines provided by their instructor or academic institution. This includes proper margins, headings, and references.

How to revise and edit the paper for clarity and coherence

Revising and editing the organizational behavior research paper is an important step in the writing process. Students should read the paper carefully and revise it for clarity, coherence, and organization. They should also check for spelling and grammar errors and ensure that the paper meets the requirements and guidelines provided by their instructor or academic institution.

Writing an organizational behavior research paper can be a challenging task, but with the right guidance and strategies, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. By following these expert tips and advice, students can write a high-quality research paper that meets the academic standards and expectations.

Order Custom Organizational Behavior Research Papers from iResearchNet

Organizational behavior research is a dynamic and challenging field, and writing a research paper on the topic can be daunting. However, with the right guidance, strategies, and support, students can succeed in their academic pursuits and contribute to the ongoing discourse in the field.

We have provided a comprehensive list of organizational behavior research paper topics and expert advice on how to choose a topic, conduct research, and write a high-quality research paper. Additionally, iResearchNet offers writing services that provide customized solutions to students who need expert help with their organizational behavior research papers.

If you’re struggling to choose a topic, conduct research, or write your organizational behavior research paper, iResearchNet’s writing services can help. Our team of experienced writers can provide personalized assistance on any topic, ensuring that your paper meets the highest standards of quality. We offer flexible pricing, timely delivery, and a money-back guarantee, so you can trust us to provide the support you need to succeed.

Don’t let the challenges of writing an organizational behavior research paper hold you back. With the right tools and support, you can excel in your academic pursuits and make a valuable contribution to the field of organizational behavior. Contact iResearchNet today to get started!


organizational behavior research papers


The brief introduction to organizational citizenship behaviors and counterproductive work behaviors: a literature review.

Qianqian Fan,

  • 1 Faculty of Business and Communications, INTI International University, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
  • 2 International Education College, Hebei Finance University, Baoding, China
  • 3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Quantity Surveying, INTI International University, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

This paper presents a literature review on the topic of organizational performance. The study conceptualizes the overall performance of the organization as comprising of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWB). While there are numerous research studies on OCB, not many have focused on how OCB and CWB affect organizational performance simultaneously. The paper provides an explanation of the OCB and CWB concepts, followed by the primary research and focus of the study. The article presents a comprehensive framework for understanding the meanings of OCB and CWB, along with an internal hierarchy. This framework will serve as a beneficial resource for working managers, academics, and researchers, who seek to optimize economic productivity through improved understanding and management of OCB and CWB.


Employees play a direct or indirect role in numerous factors that affect the operational results of an organization, by “shaping the organizational, social, and psychological context that serves as the catalyst for task activities and processes.” This behavior is referred to by some scholars as Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) or Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB), both of which have been the subject of numerous psychological and management studies ( Shah et al., 2022 ). According to these scholars, OCB is associated with an ethical organizational working environment and corporate sustainability performance ( Fein et al., 2023 ). In contrast, CWB represents intentionally destructive conduct aimed at harming an organization’s legitimate interests ( Lee, 2020 ). In previous research, many scholars have explained employee behaviors using Blau’s (1964) social exchange theory and the theory of Person-Organization Fit (POF) ( Kristof-Brown et al., 2005 ). The former elucidates the interaction among attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors, interpreting employee behaviors as a two-way communication between the individual and the organization ( Yıldız et al., 2015 ). The latter serves as a predictor of certain positive behaviors (e.g., OCB) and negative behaviors (e.g., CWB). In studying constructive workplace behaviors, researchers have distinguished between OCB and CCB (Compulsory Citizenship Behaviors). They have also identified the differential effects of various antecedents, including equity sensitivity, Chinese tradition, and job stress ( Yildiz et al., 2023 ). In research on destructive deviant workplace behaviors, these behaviors have been labeled with various terms that share similar meanings, such as counterproductive workplace behaviors (CWB) ( Yıldız et al., 2015 ). Furthermore, Yıldız and Alpkan (2015) proposed a comprehensive model to analyze these destructive deviant workplace behaviors. They also introduced individual and organizational antecedents of negative behaviors, including POF, careerism, participative decision-making, and alienation. Current findings suggest that the more positive an employee’s perceptions are of OCB, the less likely they are to engage in negative behavior. Most recent research in this field supports these findings ( Hossein and Somayeh, 2018 ; Jiang et al., 2022 ; Fein et al., 2023 ). These behaviors are shaped by the intent and direction of targeted actions ( Neuhoff, 2020 ).

The definition of OCB and CWB

The concept of OCB was formally recognized by Organ (1988) , who introduced it as a variable that could enhance organizational effectiveness ( Yow, 2017 ). It should be noted that while there is a concept similar to OCB, its nature is distinct: Compulsory Citizenship Behaviors (CCBs). CCBs refer to involuntary extra-role behaviors that arise under external pressure, not from the individual’s genuine goodwill. According to existing literature, various positive organizational and managerial factors can positively influence OCB. However, these factors may inadvertently pressurize employees, compelling them to display what appears to be OCB, but is in fact imposed. Such behaviors are termed as CCBs ( Yildiz et al., 2023 ). In another study, Yildiz et al. (2022) examined the CCBs, anger, and moral disengagement levels of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that when nurses are subjected to CCBs, they might harbor feelings of resentment toward the organization. This can drain employees’ positive energy and resources, and potentially compromise their moral decision-making mechanisms. In essence, imposing extra behaviors upon employees without their genuine willingness can be more detrimental than beneficial to organizations.

Another concept, akin to OCB and gaining traction in recent organizational behavior studies, is Constructive Deviant Workplace Behaviors (CDWB). While both are similar in that they exceed typical role expectations, OCB has a more passive nature, necessitating employees’ adherence to organizational and managerial norms and rules. In contrast, constructive deviance demands proactive actions from employees that may contravene norms. This suggests that employees exhibiting constructive deviance tend to be more risk-prone than their peers ( Yildiz et al., 2015 ).

The above comparison helps clarify the characteristics of OCB. According to existing literature, OCB has been defined from a variety of perspectives ( Suprapty Hidar et al., 2023 ). However, after reviewing these definitions, most scholars agree that OCB represents behaviors demonstrated by employees which, although not required for their current task or role, contribute to the organization’s operations and growth ( Al-Ahmadi and Mahran, 2021 ). Examples of OCB in the workplace may include assisting coworkers and initiating improvement measures. Consequently, understanding why employees engage in OCB is both necessary and insightful. Educators have positive perceptions of organizational citizenship, with behaviors including suggesting improvements for the university, voluntarily assisting new lecturers, and dedicating their personal time to enhance the performance of their students and the university ( Khalid et al., 2021 ; Bastian and Widodo, 2022 ).

On the other hand, CWB refers to actions that can be detrimental to an organization or its members. This type of behavior has garnered increasing attention from scholars and managers due to its potential negative impacts on businesses ( Reizer et al., 2020 ). Some scholars adopts the psychological contract theory to explain the relationship between workplace ostracism and employees’ CWB in the tourism industry of China, found that understanding the effects for employees who are working in a cultural context that attributes high value on relationships and implicit psychological contracts ( Li and Khattak, 2023 ). It is important to emphasize the defining characteristics of CWB: it is goal-oriented, as employees intentionally partake in harmful behavior ( Akbari et al., 2022 ). As such, the repercussions of this behavior can significantly affect a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, coworkers, customers, and others.

Reasons for research OCB and CWB

Why are scholars so interested in studying OCB and CWB? There are two primary reasons. First, both OCB and CWB fall under a broad definition of work performance that extends beyond assigned tasks ( Neale, 2019 ). When assessing an employee’s performance, managers take these behaviors into account. Second, both OCB and CWB influence individual and organizational effectiveness and productivity ( Susnienė et al., 2021 ). OCB is typically associated with positive outcomes such as improving coworker/managerial activities, efficient utilization of resources, employee retainment, while CWB is generally linked to negative outcomes like theft; destruction of property; sabotage; misuse of information, time and resources ( Shah et al., 2022 ). At present, much interest has recently been paid to employee extra-role work behaviors (i.e., OCB, CWB) that are outside the technical core (i.e., task performance) but “shape the organizational, social, and psychological context that catalyzes task activities and processes” ( Macias et al., 2023 ).

Some researchers have sought to more comprehensively explain the origins of OCB and its impact on organizational development. Some hypothesize that OCB leads to improved organizational performance and outcomes ( Romi et al., 2019 ). Numerous studies have tied perceptions of unfair treatment to CWB actions, such as Siswanti et al.'s (2020) study, which employed organizational fairness theory and leader-member exchange theory to elucidate the connection. Just like Fein et al. (2023) study, who found that both OCB and CWB can be consequent behaviors following perceptions of distributive organizational injustice perceived as inequity.

According to Liu et al. (2023) , employees’ turnover intention is positively related to their subsequent CWB, and permanent workers are less likely to engage in CWB compared to temporary workers because of the former’s higher organizational affective commitment. As Talaeipashiri (2016) stated, aggression may occur within the organization and could be targeted at certain individuals or the organization as a whole. Thus, we can conclude that organizational CWBs refer to actions directed at the organization itself, such as theft or use of violence, whereas interpersonal CWBs refer to actions directed at individuals within the organization, such as rudeness toward coworkers.

Impact on the organization

Due to the importance of employee performance, OCB is crucial to an organization. Previous research has shown that organizations benefit from employee contributions that go above and beyond the formal job requirements, also known as OCB ( Organ, 2018 ). Scholars strive to explain the positive effects of OCB from a broader research perspective ( Vagner et al., 2022 ). For instance, OCB presents commitments that reasonable in nature and when totaled after some time and people, may upgrade the execution by greasing up the building the mental texture of the association, decreasing erosion, and/or expanding productivity ( Guntuku et al., 2020 ). Furthermore, some scholar’s studies have highlighted the relationship between OCB and employee, they found that OCB has a significant and negative impact on intention to leave. When an employee has performed better OCB, it will lead to a lower intention to leave the organization ( Abror et al., 2020 ).

The majority of CWBs involve proactive actions that intentionally or voluntarily harm an organization and its stakeholders, such as clients, colleagues, and supervisors ( Liu et al., 2023 ). CWBs specifically include intentionally failing to perform work duties properly, engaging in workplace deviance, or engaging in behaviors that violate organizational policies and procedures ( Mert, 2023 ). The most critical aspect of CWB is that they must be intentional and purposeful, not accidental ( Kraak et al., 2023 ). Thus, when a worker chooses and engages in such harmful behavior, they do so with a conscious intent.

Actually, CWB are generally assimilated to “arbitrary behaviors performed by employees that overshadow the accepted norms of the organization and might then inflict pernicious shocks on the body of the organization and lead to extensive economic and psychological losses” ( Akbari et al., 2022 ). It can be seen as a mechanism for employees to engage in deliberate behavior to restore perceived fairness in their transactions with the organization (“I am not paid enough, so I will work less”). According to researcher’s study, CWB is prevalent in the workplace and is regarded as one of the most pressing challenges encountering current organizations, costing them billions annually ( Macias et al., 2023 ).

Behavioral manifestations of OCB

OCBs are defined as “individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system and promotes the effective functioning of the organization as a whole” ( Organ, 1988 ; Fein et al., 2023 ). A multitude of strategic Human Resource Management issues—such as talent management, employee engagement, organizational climate, organizational effectiveness, turnover intentions, and organizational commitment—are intricately connected with human behavior-related psychological issues ( Ren et al., 2023 ). Among all of these antecedents HRM practices play the most vital and challenging role in enhancing employees OCB ( Sultana and Johari, 2023 ). As a result, organizations are keen to maintain industrial harmony through the identification of sociable behavioral skills, underscoring the practical relevance of this research.

Simultaneously, the growing interest in the study of OCB indicates that even positive behaviors can lead to negative outcomes. Several studies suggest that organizational citizenship behavior can be time-consuming ( Reizer et al., 2020 ), potentially distracting workers from their core tasks and leading to employee burnout ( Klotz et al., 2018 ). Specifically, some researchers have proposed that attachment acts as a personality regulator in the relationship between OCB and Work-Family Facilitation (WFF) ( Reizer et al., 2020 ). Numerous studies show that attachment orientation can illuminate how individuals connect with others and foster healthy interpersonal relationships ( Gazder and Stanton, 2023 ). These orientations, which consider fundamental personality tendencies, provide a theoretical foundation and a set of empirically validated data in the social and personality domains, and personality traits have a significant impact on direct and indirect organizational citizenship behaviors for the environment ( Szostek, 2021 ).

In general, OCB is a crucial factor for organizational development ( Somech and Ohayon, 2019 ), contributing to the creation of a psychosocial work environment that supports the organization’s core activities ( Organ and Ryan, 1995 ). Regarding the direction and typology of OCB, several models have been developed since the construct’s inception ( Turner and Connelly, 2021 ).

In Organ’s (1988) research, he identified five different types of behavior to exemplify organizational citizenship behavior: altruism, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, courtesy, and civic virtue ( Atatsi et al., 2021 ).

Altruism entails discretionary assistance provided to peers or colleagues concerning job-related tasks, such as helping newcomers and freely dedicating time to others. While typically directed at individuals, it enhances group efficiency by improving individual performance ( Dipaola and Hoy, 2005 ). In essence, altruism is “a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing another’s welfare” ( Ma et al., 2018 ).


Conscientiousness alludes to behavior that surpasses the minimal expected levels, like efficient time use and exceeding base expectations, thereby enhancing both personal and group efficiency ( DiPaola and Hoy, 2005 ). Notably, conscientiousness is among the Big Five personality traits, epitomizing diligence and self-discipline. It has been identified as a consistent predictor of academic achievement ( Icekson et al., 2020 ). Additionally, Abbas and Raja (2019) found conscientiousness to be the most influential predictor of problem-solving coping in response to stressors.


Sportsmanship is an individual’s capacity to endure suboptimal situations without complaints ( Lan, 2018 ), such as refraining from unnecessary grievances, thereby enhancing productive organizational time ( Dipaola and Hoy, 2005 ). Despite its importance, sportsmanship has garnered limited attention in academic literature. Organ’s definition appears narrower than the broader implications of the term. For instance, “good sports” not only tolerate inconveniences but also maintain positivity despite setbacks, do not take offense easily, sacrifice personal interests for collective good, and handle rejection gracefully ( Podsakoff et al., 2000 ). Puspitasari et al. (2023) suggest that sportsmanship enables teachers to tolerate imperfect organizational conditions without dissent. High sportsmanship fosters a positive climate, promoting collaboration and creating a harmonious work environment.

Courtesy is characterized as polite and thoughtful actions toward colleagues. Employees exhibiting courtesy consciously evade causing issues for others, thereby reducing managerial burdens and amplifying organizational performance ( Faajir et al., 2021 ). Such behavior is proactive, preventing issues rather than addressing existing problems ( Magdalena, 2014 ). Examples include giving advance notices and reminders, which helps avert issues and ensures productive time utilization ( Dipaola and Hoy, 2005 ). In essence, courtesy fosters positive relations among peers, crafting a conducive and amiable work setting ( Oamen, 2023 ).

Civic virtue

Civic virtue encompasses behaviors emphasizing participation in overarching organizational issues, like committee work and voluntary attendance at events, bolstering the organization’s interests ( Dipaola and Hoy, 2005 ). Robbins and Judge (2015) equate civic virtue with responsible behavior, which includes following organizational changes, suggesting improvements, and safeguarding organizational resources. Civic virtue implies that organizations empower employees to enhance their work quality ( Puspitasari et al., 2023 ). Broadly, it signifies an employee’s inclination to represent and elevate their organization’s image positively ( Oamen, 2023 ).

Contemporary literature explores other distinctions within OCB, although many of these dimensions are still applicable. In the early 1990s, researchers began differentiating between Organizational Citizenship Behavior—Individual (OCBI) and Organizational Citizenship Behavior—Organizational (OCBO) ( Smith et al., 1983 ). OCBIs involve helping behaviors directed toward other individuals (e.g., assisting a sick coworker), while OCBOs encompass actions directed at the entire organization, such as participating in a voluntary company fundraiser. Proponents of this perspective argue that OCBI and OCBO are distinct variables with unique antecedents and motivators and that they are associated with job satisfaction in different ways ( El-Kassar et al., 2021 ; Rahman and Karim, 2022 ).

Behavioral manifestations of CWB

The means and likelihood of employee retaliation-based behaviors as reactions to poor leadership and management have been noted extensively as behavioral manifestations of Counterproductive Work Behaviors (CWB) ( Fein et al., 2023 ). Individual CWBs refer to actions directed against individuals within the organization, while organizational CWBs refer to actions against the organization as a whole. The study of deviant workplace behavior by Robinson and Bennett (1995) provides evidence for this interpretation.

Several researchers have examined the connections between CWB and occupational stressors. Some researcher found that perceived increases in workload were positively related to increased exhaustion after work, psychosomatic symptoms, and to spillover effects at home, even after controlling for negative affect ( Rodríguez, 2019 ). The same as Lenz et al. (2023) study, whose research suggests that when exposed to stressors, individuals take longer breaks, or work slower than necessary (i.e., show CWB) as a strategy to avoid further resource loss. The work stress/mood/CWB model developed by Fox et al. (2001) suggests that CWB is an instinctive emotional response to workplace stressors. According to Spector and Jex (1998) , workplace stressors are understood to pose threats to health and to lead to negative emotional responses such as anger and anxiety. Furthermore, some scholars argue that job insecurity is associated with CWB behavior. Many organizations face restructuring and downsizing, especially in today’s uncertain and volatile economic climate, which can heighten employee anxiety and stress ( Pu et al., 2023 ).

Here is a comprehensive explanation of the five components of CWB. Mistreatment of others is considered individual counterproductive behavior (CWB), whereas deviant behavior, destructive behavior, withdrawal behavior, and theft are classified as organizational counterproductive behaviors (CWB).

Abuse against others

Abuse against others within an organization involves an individual’s behavior that is harmful to their coworkers ( Bal, 2021 ). These behaviors can inflict physical harm, such as humiliation, contempt, insulting remarks, or intimidation, or psychological harm, such as neglect and hindering effective work. Simultaneously, it should be stressed that since direct and overt physical violence is rare within organizations, many researchers focus on non-violent behaviors. The concept of abuse in this context is closely related to notions of incivility, emotional abuse, workplace bullying, and psychological siege, as outlined in the relevant literature. In other words, within the context and scope of CWB research, the study focuses on individuals who engage in these actions ( To and Huang, 2022 ).

Production deviance

The component of production deviance includes behaviors such as not deliberately and properly performing the tasks in the job description of the employee, making mistakes, performing poorly, slowing down and obeying the instructions ( Bal, 2021 ). A summation of items reflecting “interpersonal and organizational deviance” should indicate the participation levels of each form of deviance ( Fleming et al., 2022 ). Early work in CWB focused on what was characterized as employee deviance, falling into categories of product deviance, property deviance, political divisions, and personal aggression; while deviance has been characterized as “violating behaviors,” which are those that benefit self, those that benefit the organization in an unethical manner, or destruction to exact revenge ( Allen, 2023 ).

Sabotage involves the intentional and deliberate destruction (such as arson or property damage) or damage of organizational assets (like equipment) by employees in an effort to reduce productivity ( Spector et al., 2006 ; Kim and Jo, 2022 ). This vandalism can be traced back to the machine destruction during the workers’ movement following the Industrial Revolution, and can be seen as an extension or derivation of that act. In some studies, destructive behavior is interpreted from a broader perspective and is considered as negative behaviors based on employees’ personal interests, such as damaging organizational functions, disrupting or altering organizational order, creating and spreading negative rumors within the organization, slowing production, or harming customers and employees ( Skarlicki et al., 2008 ; Szostek, 2022 ). Several factors contributing to the emergence of destructive behavior include anger or hostility, responses to unfairness, the desire for personal gain, resistance to organizational change, and the need for approval from coworkers ( Wiseman and Stillwell, 2022 ).

Withdrawal includes reduce the working time below the minimum necessary to achieve the goals (for example, extending breaks, unjustified dismissals). Different from other forms of CWB, the employees engaged in withdrawal were characterized by a lower level of emotional exhaustion ( Szostek et al., 2020 ). Withdrawal is behavior where an employee attempts to avoid a situation rather than harming the organization and its members thus, this type of behavior is used as a passive way to influence the organization by withholding effort usually used to produce for the organization. At the same time, looking at the description of production deviance there is a noticeable similarity between the categories, but as previously stated, withdrawal is more passive in that it involves withdrawing effort systematically ( Van der Westhuizen, 2019 ).

Employees commit theft with the intention to harm organizations or individuals ( Sackett et al., 2006 ). It is a form of instrumental aggression (mainly toward the organization) motivated by the will to: obtain approval, help colleagues, equalize conditions and protect oneself in case of harmful actions of superiors ( Szostek, 2022 ). Many employees may view theft from the organization as non-aggressive due to financial needs, dissatisfaction with the job, or a sense of being treated unfairly ( Bal, 2021 ). In these instances, employees do not intend to use or sell the stolen items but aim to harm the organization’s economic interests.

The influencing factors of OCB and CWB

An individual’s inherent and immutable personality has a more stable and lasting impact on OCB/CWB ( Aspan et al., 2019 ). Previous research has elaborated on why intrinsic motivation theory can influence employees’ propensity to engage in civic behavior. Intrinsic motivation refers to the internal factor of employee self-satisfaction ( Runge et al., 2020 ; Schattke and Marion-Jetten, 2022 ). Since OCBs are less likely to be formally rewarded than prescribed work behaviors, they are most likely to be driven by internal incentive channels ( Dermawan and Handayani, 2019 ; Ren et al., 2022 ).

Personality traits can influence how individuals perceive and respond to diverse motivations ( Clark, 2010 ; Reizer et al., 2020 ). According to Neale’s (2019) study, the findings suggest that that the intentionality behind job crafting behaviors is predicted differentially by individual needs as well as personality traits (the dark triad and conscientiousness). Bright job crafting is more associated with engagement in OCBs while dark job crafting is more associated with engagement in CWBs. Related research demonstrates that organizational commitment is the most influential factor affecting OCB. High organizational commitment is related to high OCB and employee performance, low absence rates, and fewer delays ( Nurjanah et al., 2020 ).

Furthermore, it is believed that organizational commitment is positively related to perceived organizational support. When employees feel respected and supported for their roles, organizational commitment increases ( Lambert et al., 2017 ). This bond can be strengthened in numerous ways. Leadership has a significant effect on the perception of organizational support ( Wang et al., 2021 ). Specifically, Delegach et al. (2017) found that transformational leadership is positively associated with organizational commitment, whereas transactional leadership is positively associated with commitments to safety and the organization’s mission. Given the strong emphasis on transformational leadership practices in encouraging OCBs, these findings are intriguing. It’s possible that organizational commitment may increase if transactional leaders are better equipped to instill organizational values in employees.

Some scholars believe that job autonomy may have positive effects on organizational performance. Job autonomy is defined as the extent to which the job offers employees the freedom to make choices about what, when, and how they perform their work. Greater job autonomy reduces limitations from other job factors and improves individuals’ job performance ( Matteson et al., 2021 ). These contradictory findings and a contingency perspective suggest that the relationships between job autonomy, OCB, and organizational performance may depend on organizational circumstances ( Park, 2018 ).

From the comprehensive literature review, we observe various research perspectives and conclusions on deviant behaviors. In studying constructive and destructive deviant workplace behaviors, scholars have refined a general classification of workplace deviance. Using precise definitions of terms, they have analyzed antecedent factors, constructed various models or frameworks, and proposed feasible measures. This literature review aids in further summarizing the relevant content concerning OCB and CWB.

In this paper, previous scholars’ conclusions shed light on the propositions. In general, this paper provides a succinct overview of previous research on deviant behaviors, with a particular focus on OCB and CWB as well as their various aspects. It discusses personality, organizational commitment and job autonomy, three concepts intrinsically related to OCB/CWB, and how they function. This section underscores the impact that CWB and OCB have on organizational performance. Each aspect of CWB and OCB is also detailed within this study for relevance. The literature review offered above allows us to envision an optimal portrayal of organizational performance, and this theoretical framework can be beneficial in terms of practitioners and researchers. Within organizations, employees should exert additional effort and be open to adopting new work methods, while leaders should provide comprehensive support, effectively implement employees’ suggestions, set high standards, and commit more resources and energy to work-related matters rather than traditional management and rigid control. Given sufficient trust, employees are more likely to engage in cooperative behaviors, such as assisting coworkers and performing actions that benefit the group. Consequently, the costs associated with hiring, selecting, and integrating new coworkers should be reduced. Although this is not an empirical paper, the compilation of previous research findings constitutes a significant contribution to guiding managerial actions in organizations. This paper can serve as a guide for organizations seeking to improve their employees’ organizational performance and curtail the occurrence of negative behaviors.

The limitations of this paper are manifold. While the primary focus was on OCB and CWB, the intricate relationships among OCB, CWB, and deviant workplace behaviors were not fully explored. Moreover, the study centered on just three determinants: personality, organizational commitment, and job autonomy, assessing their influence on OCB/CWB. Future studies might consider a broader range of individual, task, and organizational antecedents and delve into potential indirect effects, such as moderator impacts, on OCB and CWB. Furthermore, this research did not narrow down to specific industries or professions, suggesting that subsequent research, when tailored to distinct sectors or job roles, might yield recommendations with heightened relevance and applicability.

Author contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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Yıldız, B., Alpkan, L., Sezen, B., and Yıldız, H. (2015). A proposed conceptual model of destructive deviance: the mediator role of moral disengagement. Procedia Soc. Behav. Sci. 207, 414–423. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.10.111

Yildiz, B., Kaptan, Z., Yildiz, T., Elibol, E., Yildiz, H., and Ozbilgin, M. (2023). A systematic review and meta-analytic synthesis of the relationship between compulsory citizenship behaviors and its theoretical correlates. Front. Psychol. 14, 1–21. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1120209

Yildiz, B., Yildiz, H., and Ozbilgin, M. (2022). How do compulsory citizenship behaviors affect moral disengagement in organizations? Significance of anger toward the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. Front. Psychol. 13, 1–16. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1038860

Yow, M. C. (2017). Employee interpretations of organizational citizenship behavior in tertiary sector organizations: A generic qualitative study. Available at: http://search.proquest.com/openview/e15d93700ac88c3f64bb3949c60a4155/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y

Keywords: organizational performance, organizational citizenship behavior, counterproductive work behavior, economic productivity, influencing factors

Citation: Fan Q, Wider W and Chan CK (2023) The brief introduction to organizational citizenship behaviors and counterproductive work behaviors: a literature review. Front. Psychol . 14:1181930. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1181930

Received: 08 March 2023; Accepted: 29 August 2023; Published: 13 September 2023.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2023 Fan, Wider and Chan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Walton Wider, [email protected]

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

organizational behavior research papers

Volume 8, Issue 2 (2023)

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  1. 20181012 Organization Behavior L 1


  3. Organizational Behavior: Lecture No. 3 (Part 1)

  4. Organizational Behavior

  5. What is organizational behavior?

  6. Organizational Behavior 2


  1. Research in Organizational Behavior

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    Research in Organizational Behavior Innovation with field experiments: Studying organizational behaviors in actual organizations Oliver P. Hausera,b,*, Elizabeth Linosc, Todd Rogersb aHarvard b Business School, Boston, MA 02163, United States Harvard c Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States Goldman

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    into three distinct dimensions: (1) the content or what is deemed important (e.g., teamwork, accountability, innovation), (2) the consensus or how widely shared norms are held across people, and (3) the intensity of feelings about the importance of the norm (e.g., are people willing to sanction others).

  5. Review of Organizational Behavior Management: The Essentials, edited by

    Articles from the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (JOBM) are a primary source, though some OBM-related research can also be found in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA), Behavior Analysis in Practice (BAP), and Perspectives on Behavior Science (PoBS), among others. Textbooks, however, are limited.

  6. Organizational Behavior

    Published online: 29 March 2017 Summary Organizational behavior (OB) is a discipline that includes principles from psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Its focus is on understanding how people behave in organizational work environments.

  7. PDF Research in Organizational Behavior

    Research in Organizational Behavior journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/riob The rise of people analytics and the future of organizational research Jeffrey T. Polzer Harvard Business School, USA article info Available online 1 February 2023 Keywords:

  8. Journal of Organizational Behavior

    Best Paper Award. Annual Review & Conceptual Development Issue. The Journal of Organizational Behavior publishes reports & reviews in organizational behavior & occupational psychology at individual, group & organizational levels.

  9. Full article: Organizational Behavior Management & Socio-Cultural

    View PDF. Organizational Behavior Management and related disciplines offer much to promote behavioral solutions to socially significant practices within large social units like organizations. Conceptual analyses, however, have advanced ahead of empirical work while the field has many opportunities for research and empirical development ...

  10. Analysis of Leader Effectiveness in Organization and Knowledge Sharing

    As a result of the analysis of the research, it is seen that both leader effectiveness and knowledge sharing behavior positively affect the work performance of the employees within the organization. It is highly likely that the top management of the organizations will have positive feedback if they apply the leadership characteristics they have ...

  11. (PDF) Organizational Behavior: A Study on Managers ...

    ... Organizational behavior is based on scientific knowledge and applied practice. According to Kaifi and Noori (2010), the "RED Analysis" can be applied by practitioners and researchers for...

  12. Organizational Behaviour and its Effect on Corporate Effectiveness

    John Ugoani Rhema Univeristy, Nigeria. Date Written: July 7, 2020 Abstract Organizational behavior involves the design of work as well as the psychological, emotional and interpersonal behavioral dynamics that influence organizational performance.

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    Organisational Behavior Mar 2024 Kaushik Kundu Formation and consequences of employee time theft: A motivational perspective Liang Meng ADVANCED ORGANISATIONAL THEORY Nurudeen Olalekan Orunbon...

  14. Journal of Organizational Behavior

    The Journal of Organizational Behavior, in collaboration with the Organizational Behavior Research Group in the Department of Management, Monash Business School, and the Body, Heart, and Mind in Business Research Group at the University of Sydney, invite you to attend one of our upcoming one-day publishing workshops.The workshops will be held in-person on the campus of Monash University in ...

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    This page provides a comprehensive list of 100 organizational behavior research paper topics that are divided into 10 categories, each containing 10 topics.


    Organizational Behavior ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR Publisher: Alagappa University, Karaikudi,Tamil Nadu, India Authors: Dr .AR .Saravanakumar Alagappa University Abstract In this unit we are...

  17. The determinants of organizational change management success

    The research action methodology is inspired from the constructivist epistemology and promotes an understanding of complex processes from a learning or organizational change perspective. 90 It is based on the hypothesis that, on the one hand, actors in organizations have practical knowledge and experience and, on the other hand, researchers have ...

  18. Individualism-Collectivism and Group Creativity

    Current research in organizational behavior suggests that organizations should adopt collectivistic values because they promote cooperation and productivity, while individualistic values should be avoided because they incite destructive conflict and opportunism. In this paper, we highlight one possible benefit of individualistic values that has not previously been considered.

  19. PDF Organizational Behaviour Research: A Critical Analysis

    Organizational Behaviour Research: A Critical Analysis IOSR Journal of Business and Management (IOSR-JBM) e-ISSN: 2278-487X, p-ISSN: 2319-7668. Volume 17, Issue 11 .Ver. I (Nov. 2015), PP 33-47 www.iosrjournals.org

  20. Frontiers

    Simultaneously, the growing interest in the study of OCB indicates that even positive behaviors can lead to negative outcomes. Several studies suggest that organizational citizenship behavior can be time-consuming (Reizer et al., 2020), potentially distracting workers from their core tasks and leading to employee burnout (Klotz et al., 2018).

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    For technical help with the submission system, please review our FAQs or contact [email protected]. 2. AIMS AND SCOPE. The Journal of Organizational Behavior aims to publish empirical reports and theoretical reviews of research in the field of organizational behavior, wherever in the world that work is conducted.

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    The Journal of Organizational Behavior, in collaboration with the Organizational Behavior Research Group in the Department of Management, Monash Business School, and the Body, Heart, and Mind in Business Research Group at the University of Sydney, invite you to attend one of our upcoming one-day publishing workshops.The workshops will be held in-person on the campus of Monash University in ...

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    Calls for Papers. Special Issue: The Power of Play in Organizations: Implications for Well-being and Work Effectiveness See full details here. Submission window: 15 March - 15 April 2023. Special Issue: Is Our Future Colleague Even Human? Advancing Human-AI Teamwork from An Organizational Perspective See full details here. Submission window: 1 ...