Organizational Behavior Theories

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Organizational Behavior Theories

Most of us know about Organizational Behavior because we either read about it in graduation or in high school. But it becomes an essential part of those pursuing different types of MBA Courses. Management students understand the importance of Human Resource Management and Human Resources in their curriculum. Making a career in the field of Organizational Behavior is a quite lucrative zone to be in. Today, through this blog, we shall read about various Organizational Behavior Theories and how to actually study them and use them to our advantage.

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What is Organizational Behavior?

Organisational Behavior refers to the performance demonstrated by an individual in an organization, Individuals build up the organization and organization on its own is inanimate. It is the “study of human Behavior in an organizational setting”. Being an amalgamation of the fields of Psychology, Business, Sociology and Economics, this is such a field that not only helps in uplifting the productivity of the organization but also improves the overall efficiency of the individual at a personal level, social and professional level. In other words, Organisational Behavior is the make or break factor of any organization.

Concepts of Organizational Behaviour Theories

Below written are the fundamental concepts based on Organizational Behaviour Theories:

  • Perception
  • A whole person
  • Human dignity
  • Individual differences
  • Motivated behaviour
  • Mutual Interest
  • The value of the person
  • The desire for Involvement

Features of Organizational Behaviour Theories

Here’s a sneak peek of the features of Organizational Behaviour Theories:

  • It is a separate field of study: Organizational Behaviour is based on multi-interdisciplinary orientation and not on specific theoretical background.
  • It is built on behavioural disciplines: OB is an applied behavioural science that mainly includes psychology, social psychology, anthropology, sociology.
  • Known as both science and art: It is considered as both science and art because it involve both applied research and the application in organizational analysis
  • It approaches humanism and optimism: Organisational behaviour deals with the people and their interactions with organisations

Applications of Organisational Behaviour Theories 

The need of organizational behaviour theories is discussed below:

  1. Individual and Group Behavior: The objective is to find out why people or groups of people behave the way they do. For instance, if the organization has experienced a very high turnover rate then the organization will take certain actions to correct the situation in the future.
  2. Predicting Certain Behavioral Response to Change: Prediction helps in determining the outcomes of the result from a given situation. Knowing the approach of organizational behavior would help the manager to predict certain behavioral responses to change.
  3. Control Behavior: It is the valuable contribution of management in the organization and the knowledge can actually help. OB helps in improving the effectiveness on the job.

List of Organizational Behavior Theories

Following are some of the popular Organizational Behavior Theories:

  • Personality Theories
  • Attitudes
  • Bureaucracy by Max Weber
  • Scientific Management by F.W Taylor
  • Process Management Theory by Henry Fayol
  • Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow
  • Theory X and Theory Y by Mc Gregor

Personality Theories

Amongst the major Organizational Behavior Theories, the concept of Personality has been significantly discussed. As per Gordon Allport, Personality is simply termed as “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behaviour and thought.” While understanding the notion of personality, the concept of Nature vs Nurture is of utmost importance as many researchers have highlighted the role of nature in affective human behaviour in terms of primal instincts and genetic compulsions.

On the other hand, several researchers also underlined the importance of the environment as one of the major determinants of personality as an individual’s living environment, education, influences and surroundings can impact and nurture their personality. In terms of business and organisation, many think that nature can play a greater role in finding the right employees for leadership as some of us have innate leadership skills and potential to handle greater responsibility. Opposed to this point of view, authors like Hal Gregerson, Jeff Dyer and Clayton Christenson have argued that innovation and business skills can be imparted and thus nurtured.


Another imperative concept under Organisational Behavior Theories is that of Attitudes. These are simply referred to as evaluative statements on objects, people or events and mainly show how someone feels about something. There are two main theories under Attitudes:

Cognitive Dissonance Theory: This one elaborates upon the relationship between attitudes and behaviour and Cognitive Dissonance highlights the incompatibility and inconsistency between these two. It explains that inconsistency is uncomfortable for human beings and they sought to minimise it thus to reduce dissonance and seek stability.

Self-Perception Theory: This describes that individuals decide their attitudes and behaviours by perceiving their own selves in varied situations.

Bureaucracy by Max Webber

According to Max Webber, Bureaucracy refers to the management of large organizations characterised by:

  • Hierarchy
  • Fixed rules
  • Rigid Adherence to procedures
  • Impersonal Relationship
  • Highly specialized division of labour.

In this theory, the rules and job responsibilities are written down and also clearly stated. There is also a clear hierarchy of power that is concentrated among a few high-ranking managers.

Scientific Management by F.W. Taylor

F.W. Taylor approached the behavioural theory in a scientific way. He devised four principles;

  • Develop a scientific approach for each element of one’s work
  • Scientifically select, train, teach and develop each worker
  • Cooperate with workers to ensure that jobs match plans and principles.
  • His key areas of focus were Task Performance, Supervision and Motivation

Process Management Theory by Henri Fayol

Fayol also called this the “Administrative Theory” to emphasize that there is a unity of science and administration. He bifurcated the industrial activities into 6 separate works-

  • Technical
  • Commercial
  • Financial
  • Accounting
  • Managerial

Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow devised a 5 stage hierarchy to study the forces that drive workers in an organization or rather public in general. It was the motivational hierarchy theory which told 5 stages of fulfilling human needs. They are-

  • Physiological Needs- The first step, it consists of necessities like food and shelter
  • Security Needs- It consists of job security and role clarity in the organization
  • Social Needs- It consists of the need for humans to socialize with other humans and in this scenario- workers
  • Self Esteem Needs- It consists of rank in the organization and success or promotional opportunities
  • Self Actualization Needs- It is the greater need for personal or professional growth

Theory X and Theory Y by McGregor

McGregor devised two theories- X and Y. In X, he read lower level engineers or foreman in an organization or plant and in Y he read the higher ranking managers in the offices of the organization. Both of the theories are completely opposite like-

  • Theory X suggests that people are mostly lethargic and wait for the orders while Theory Y says the workers work on their own and are creative in it.
  • Theory X suggests people need close supervision whereas Theory Y suggests people work better without close scrutiny
  • Theory X suggests people have to be pushed to get some work done but Theory Y said that there is an internal motivation available inside the workers so they don’t need a push.

Models of Organizational Behaviour Theories

Following are the five models of Organizational Behaviour Theories:

  • Autocratic Model
  • Custodial Model
  • Supportive Model
  • Collegial Model
  • System Model

Autocratic Model

Below are the guiding principles of this model:

  • The Autocratic Model is based upon strength, power, and formal authority.
  • In this model, management have enormous business expertise whereas employees working under them has relatively low skills
  • This system is most commonly used in factories or industrial areas
  • Management is asked to micromanage the staff and have a look at their all the details and make every single decision
  • It is also a detractor of job satisfaction and employee morale

Custodial Model

Mentioned below is the underlying theory of this model:

  • Custodial Model follows the concept of providing economic security through wages and benefits to the employees
  • Providing health benefits, salary, corporate cars, incentives come under this model to attract and retain quality staff
  • In addition, one of the downsides of the custodial model is to attract and retain low performance staff

Supportive Model

Written under is the intent of this model:

  • The Supportive Model is focused around aspiring leadership
  • It motivates staff unlike two approaches above that is based upon control and authority and incentive approach
  • This allows to have value and insight to contribute to the organization
  • Model also provides workers with positive workplace where their ideas are encouraged

Collegial Model

This model is quite effective. Let’s have a look:

  • Everybody working in the organization, the Collegial Model promotes teamwork.
  • Everybody is encouraged to build a better organization by actively participating equally
  • The management role is to create energetic and positive workplace environment
  • It is most suitable for the new approaches like marketing teams, research, development, technology/software, etc

System Model

This is the final organizational contemporary model. Let’s see how it works:

  • In this model, the organization looks at the overall structure & team environment. It depends on the individuals who have different goals, talents, potential
  • The primary aim of the model is to balance the goals of individual with the goals of organization
  • It focuses on the partnership of managers and employees with a common goal, where everyone feels that they have a stake in the organization.

Some popular courses that range from graduation and post-graduation level are listed below. Take a good look and decide for yourself, which suits you.


  • BSc Organizational Leadership
  • BA Psychology and Management
  • BS Organizational Sciences: Non-profit and Community Organizations
  • BA Business Management with Organisational Behaviour


  • Graduate Certificate Organization Design and Development
  • PhD in Organisational Behavior and Human Resource
  • MA Psychology in Organisational Behavior and Evaluation
  • MA in Organization, Information and Learning Sciences
  • Masters in Human Resource Management

Project on Organizational Behaviour Theories

Credits: Simran Kaur
Who is the father of Organizational Behavior Theories?

F.W Taylor

What are the four leading theories of organizational behavior?

There are four major leading theories: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ERG theory, Herzberg’s dual-factor theory and McClelland’s acquired needs theory.

What is the origin of organizational behavior?

The origin of organizational behavior can trace its roots back to Max Weber and earlier organizational studies.

What is the discipline of Organizational Behavior?

OB is a discipline of social science that seeks explanations for human behavior and how do they perform in the organizations

Why do we study OB?

This gives an insight into how employees behave and perform in the workplace.

So, this was all about the organizational behavior theories and some of the famous courses regarding them. To get one-on-one counselling session to study abroad register yourself at Leverage Edu and make your dream career a reality!

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