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Article

Neal M. Ashkanasy and Alana D. Dorris

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.

Article

Mark G. Ehrhart and Benjamin Schneider

Research on the internal psychosocial environment of work organizations has largely been captured through the study of two constructs: organizational climate and organizational culture. Despite the inherent similarities between the two constructs, they have largely been studied in separate literatures, by different sets of researchers, and more often than not with different methodologies. For instance, research in organizational climate tends to have a relatively narrow focus on the shared perceptions of employees, and contemporary climate research in particular tends to have a focus on specific strategic goals (such as climates for service or safety) or internal processes (such as climates for fairness or ethics). Organizational culture is broader than organizational climate, starting with deep-level assumptions and values and becoming manifest in almost all aspects of organizational life. A review of both literatures and the suggested integration of them leads to a rich understanding of how employees experience their work organizations and the consequences of organizational behavior for what happens in organizations for people and organizational effectiveness.

Article

George P. Huber and Jean M. Bartunek

A “change” is a difference in an entity’s state, condition, or property that occurs across an interval of time and can take place in multiple ways. The scope and variety of organization changes make evident that organization change is a familiar and crucial feature of society’s ecosystem. In this chapter we explore multiple types of changes that occur in and among organizations. To appreciate organizational change, it is necessary to understand organizations per se. Thus, we begin by summarizing pertinent literature that defines central characteristics of organizations. Following conventional usage, the term “organization” refers to a purposeful hierarchical human system whose members contribute their efforts or other resources to the system in order to acquire valued resources, such as their livelihood. Organizations are created for multiple types of purposes. Our emphasis is primarily on business organizations, which are created for the purpose of generating wealth for their creators and owners. After discussing organizations, we then turn to our main focus, organizational change. This refers, not only to changes at the organization level of analysis but also at other levels of analysis, ranging from individuals such as the organization’s chief executive officer to populations of organizations. We present topics that address contemporary understandings of organizational change. That is, we discuss sources of change in external organizational environments and organizational responses to such change. We then discuss varieties of organizational change, including population level changes, and changes within individual organizations, including changes initiated by middle managers, organizational learning and unlearning and top management change. Next we move to planned organizational change. This includes changes in culture as well as forms of organization development and forms of whole systems changes, as well as multiple dimensions, of these types of changes. Finally, we describe emerging topics in organizational change, including temporal dimensions, radical and continuous change, dialectical and paradoxical change, emergence, and decline, death and rebirth. Taken together, these topics suggest what organizational change research has explored up to the present. The topics also suggest agendas for new exploration.

Article

Ravi S. Kudesia

Since the 1980s, the management and organizations literature has grown substantially, turning over the years toward cognitive, discursive, and phenomenological perspectives. At the heart of this continued growth and its many turns is the matter of sensemaking. Construed narrowly, sensemaking describes the process whereby people notice and interpret equivocal events and coordinate a response to clarify what such events mean. More broadly, sensemaking offers a unique perspective on organizations. This perspective calls attention to how members of organizations reach understandings of their environment through verbal and embodied behaviors, how these understandings both enable and constrain their subsequent behavior, and how this subsequent behavior changes the environment in ways that necessitate new understandings. Whereas organizational psychology constructs typically fit most comfortably into a linear “boxes and arrows” paradigm, sensemaking highlights a recursive and ongoing process. Sense is never made in a lasting way: It is always subject to disruption and therefore must be continually re-accomplished. As a result, sensemaking is especially evident when equivocal events cause breakdowns in meaning. Such breakdowns render organizations incapable of answering two key questions: “What’s going on here?” and “What should we do about it?” Not coincidentally, such events—including crisis situations, strategic change episodes, firm formations and dissolutions, and new member socialization—are among the most pivotal events that occur in organizations. Sensemaking is therefore strongly implicated in organizational change, learning, and identity. Sensemaking can appear impenetrable to newcomers for precisely the same reason that it enables remarkably incisive analyses: the sensemaking perspective helps disrupt limiting rationality assumptions that are so often embedded in organizational theories. As such, sensemaking sensitizes scholars to counterintuitive aspects of organizational life. These aspects include how action in organizations often precedes understanding rather than following from it, how organizations are beset by a surplus of possible meanings rather than a scarcity of information, how retrospective thought processes often trump future-oriented ones, and how organizations help create the environments to which they must react. Nonetheless, despite these advances and insights, much remains to be learned about sensemaking as it relates to emotion and embodiment; as it occurs across individual, group, organizational, and institutional levels of analysis; and as it both shapes and is shaped by new technologies.

Article

Organizational psychology represents an important theoretical and practical field of contemporary psychological science that studies mental and behavioral phenomena that take place in individuals and groups belonging to social organizations. From a historical point of view, the roots of this specialty can be traced to the psychological approaches to the world of industry and work that began to appear in the beginning of the 20th century. The discovery of the relevance of individual differences in both mental and behavioral processes paved the way to the creation of a scientific and technical knowledge that could maximize an adaptation of humans at work that would benefit industrial activities, would increase worker satisfaction, and bring progress and peace to all of society. Such specialized knowledge has evolved during the past century through a series of stages that permitted a growing theoretical complexity and more efficient technological interventions. This evolution of basic topics includes the study of the human operator; humankind’s capacities and abilities; the influence of social factors upon people in the workplace; and the structures of all sorts of organizations created to obtain desired and needed goals. The relevance of social powers influencing the world of labor have made possible the creation of a rigorous and complex body of scientific knowledge that continuously provides information, advice, and help to modern society in its economic, social, and political structures.

Article

Sharon Glazer and Cong Liu

Work stress refers to the process of job stressors, or stimuli in the workplace, leading to strains, or negative responses or reactions. Organizational development refers to a process in which problems or opportunities in the work environment are identified, plans are made to remediate or capitalize on the stimuli, action is taken, and subsequently the results of the plans and actions are evaluated. When organizational development strategies are used to assess work stress in the workplace, the actions employed are various stress management interventions. Two key factors tying work stress and organizational development are the role of the person and the role of the environment. In order to cope with work-related stressors and manage strains, organizations must be able to identify and differentiate between factors in the environment that are potential sources of stressors and how individuals perceive those factors. Primary stress management interventions focus on preventing stressors from even presenting, such as by clearly articulating workers’ roles and providing necessary resources for employees to perform their job. Secondary stress management interventions focus on a person’s appraisal of job stressors as a threat or challenge, and the person’s ability to cope with the stressors (presuming sufficient internal resources, such as a sense of meaningfulness in life, or external resources, such as social support from a supervisor). When coping is not successful, strains may develop. Tertiary stress management interventions attempt to remediate strains, by addressing the consequence itself (e.g., diabetes management) and/or the source of the strain (e.g., reducing workload). The person and/or the organization may be the targets of the intervention. The ultimate goal of stress management interventions is to minimize problems in the work environment, intensify aspects of the work environment that create a sense of a quality work context, enable people to cope with stressors that might arise, and provide tools for employees and organizations to manage strains that might develop despite all best efforts to create a healthy workplace.

Article

Human resources (HR) management addresses those policies, practices, and activities concerned with the management of people in organizations. Although it is typically considered at multiple levels of analysis, it provides an important context for the application of work and organizational psychology. Core research questions address the determinants of HR strategy and practices adopted by organizations and how these are linked to outcomes including in particular organizational performance and employee wellbeing. Much research explores this linkage process including how far HR practices are able to ensure employee abilities, motivation, and opportunities to contribute; the distinctive role of human capital; how employees react to these practices; and the steps management can take to ensure their effective implementation. Most research confirms an association between the adoption of a greater number of what are typically termed “high performance” or “high involvement” HR practices and higher organizational performance and employee wellbeing. However, doubts remain about the causal direction of the association. Continuing research challenges include how best to measure HR practices, understanding more about contextual influences, and incorporating more fully the role of employee attitudes and behavior including employee attributions about the motives of management in their use of HR practices.

Article

Hannes Zacher

Action regulation theory is a meta-theory on the regulation of goal-directed behavior. The theory explains how workers regulate their behavior through cognitive processes, including goal development and selection, internal and external orientation, planning, monitoring of execution, and feedback processing. Moreover, action regulation theory focuses on the links between these cognitive processes, behavior, the objective environment, and objective outcomes. The action regulation process occurs on multiple levels of action regulation, including the sensorimotor or skill level, the level of flexible action patterns, the intellectual or conscious level, and the meta-cognitive heuristic level. These levels range from unconscious and automatized control of actions to conscious thought, and from muscular action to thought processes. Action regulation at lower levels in this hierarchy is more situation specific and requires less cognitive effort than action regulation at higher levels. Workers further develop action-oriented mental models that include long-term cognitive representations of input conditions, goals, plans, and expected and prescribed results of action, as well as knowledge about the boundary conditions of action and the transformation procedures that turn goals into expected results. The accuracy and level of detail of such action-oriented mental models is closely associated with the efficiency and effectiveness of action regulation. One of three foci can be in the foreground of action regulation: task, social context, or self. A task focus is most strongly associated with high efficiency and effectiveness of action regulation, because it links task-related goals with relevant plans, behavior, and feedback. Action regulation theory has been applied to understand several phenomena in the field of industrial, work, and organizational psychology, including proactive work behavior, work-related learning and error management, entrepreneurship, occupational strain and well-being, reciprocal influences between personality and work, innovation, teamwork, career development, and successful aging at work.

Article

Dirk D. Steiner

Organizational justice refers to people’s perceptions of the fairness or unfairness of the treatment they receive in the organizations where they work. The ways authorities, such as supervisors and managers, make decisions and implement them are evaluated by employees in terms of their fairness. Other agents, such as coworkers and customers who interact with employees, also can generate judgments of fairness or unfairness at work. These fairness perceptions can be conceived according to four dimensions of organizational justice as well as in general terms. The four dimensions are distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational. Typically, distributive justice evaluates the equity of treatment, where people expect outcomes proportionate to their contributions. Workers also evaluate the fairness of procedures used to make decisions and the quality of their interpersonal relations with the various actors of the organization, including the information the actors communicate regarding decisions and the procedures followed to make them. When people perceive that they are treated fairly, positive consequences result for them and for their organizations. Thus, they tend to be more satisfied, evaluate their management more favorably, engage in more prosocial behaviors within their organizations, perform at higher levels, and remain in their employing organizations for longer periods. When people experience unfair treatment, negative consequences include stress and health-related concerns for employees, negative attitudes toward the organization, and counterproductive behaviors, such as theft, vandalism, or absenteeism. People react strongly to fair or unfair treatment for different reasons. They may believe that fair treatment will allow them to receive the rewards that they deserve, it may communicate that they are valued in a group, or fair treatment may be valued as an important and basic principle of human functioning. Research on organizational justice in 2020 focuses on understanding the mechanisms producing fairness judgments and their consequences and on the boundary conditions limiting the observed relations with their antecedents and outcomes.

Article

Generative emergence is one of many theories for how new entities are created; how a new order comes into being. Emergence itself is one perspective on change and transformation. However, whereas change is an alteration of existing structures, emergence refers to the creation of a new (social) entity. Explaining the phenomenon of creation, at all levels, is the goal of an emergence science. Generative emergence takes a step in that direction, which explains how emergence can be enacted in practice. Generative emergence derives from dissipative structures in thermodynamics, a theory of new order creation. In the experiment that produced the theory, heat energy is dissipated through a closed container (from a source to a sink), and the heat is continuously increased. At a threshold point, an entirely new level of order emerges across the molecular substrate, in the form of large whirlpools (visible to the naked eye). These macrostructures confer “orders of magnitude” more capacity to dissipate the incoming energy flux. This unique order-creation process has led to a strong multidisciplinary literature, carefully analogizing this order creation process to social systems. Specifically, in empirical research across multiple levels of analysis (from leadership to teams to ventures to strategies to new markets), the same four phases of activity have been identified. These four phases have been integrated into the theory of generative emergence, which reveals the sequential conditions through which a new system emerges. The phases are (a) disequilibrium organizing and stress, (b) experiments and amplifications to a critical threshold, (c) emergence of a new entity, and (d) stabilizing the new system into a dynamic state. Generative emergence also shows how each phase can be supported and enacted through the actions of leaders. Specifically, a close reading of empirical research on dissipative structures in social systems reveals a set of leadership interventions that have improved the likelihood that these phases would build in sequence, leading to the creation of an emergent—a new entity. As one example, consider phase 1: disequilibrium organizing and stress. Entrepreneurial leaders initiate this through opportunity recognition for the creation of new value. As they pursue this aspiration, the dramatic increase in organizing—with its concomitant upsurge in work hours and uncertainty—leads to growing stress and conflict. Here, generative leadership shows how to “manage” this stress, for example by providing space for internal innovations and “experiments” by employees, which might spark the new level of the organization. In like manner, each of the phases has leadership correlates, which together coalesce into the emergence of a new system—a new initiative, venture, organization, or macrolevel market. The power of the generative emergence theory is that the new order that results can dramatically increase the capacity of the system, and for all of its members. As such, the leadership actions which generate this outcome are worthy of careful exploration and enactment.

Article

Kimberly Rios and Cameron D. Mackey

The definition of group cohesion has been debated since the formal introduction of the concept in social psychology. Group cohesion has undergone a variety of conceptualizations over the years stemming from several theoretical perspectives. Many models of group cohesion have been introduced; however, research with these models is largely confined to the field (e.g., psychology) or subfield (e.g., sports psychology) in which it originated. Initially, unidimensional models of group cohesion were popular, with proponents of these models arguing that cohesion would have the same consequences regardless of its operationalization. However, later research found that group cohesion may be multidimensional in nature. Several two-dimensional models have been proposed, the most popular of which distinguishes between group members working together to attain common goals (task cohesion) and group members interacting with one another on a more personal level (social cohesion). Another multidimensional model of group cohesion builds on the social-task cohesion distinction but further divides social and task cohesion into Group Integration and Individual Attractiveness to Group sub-components, thus creating a four-factor model. Group cohesion has been applied to a variety of group contexts, including sports teams, military squads, and work groups. The amount of cohesion in each group is dependent upon the properties of the group being investigated. Groups that have naturally formed (i.e., “real” groups) have higher rates of group cohesion than groups created for the purpose of a study (i.e., “artificial” groups). Other factors that affect group cohesion include type of group (e.g., interdependent vs. co-acting) and level of analysis (i.e., individual or group). Research on group cohesion has focused on the consequences of group cohesion in lieu of what causes group cohesion in the first place. Furthermore, although much research has detailed the relationship between cohesion and performance, many other positive consequences of group cohesion have not been assessed in depth. Finally, group cohesion is also associated with potential negative consequences, such as groupthink.

Article

Regine Bendl, Astrid Hainzl, and Heike Mensi-Klarbach

Diversity in the workplace, with a central focus on gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, (dis)ability, and religious belief, has become a major issue in organizations worldwide since the 1990s. How these different diversity dimensions are defined and constructed, as well as by whom and in what context, determines organizational practices. In turn, this determines the transformation of organizations from exclusive to inclusive ones. The workplace is one context of social interaction, in which dimensions of diversity become highly relevant and visible. Depending on the organization’s perspective toward diversity in a managerial context, individual differences between employees can create value and foster innovation and creativity, or can lead to conflict. How diversity is constructed and reproduced within diversity management and inclusion determines how employees feel accepted and included and, thus, how they are able to realize their potential and to contribute to the organization’s vision and aims. However, legitimizing initiatives that foster diversity in the workplace only with potential profits it might generate – called the business case for diversity – and forgetting its roots in the moral case, has shortcomings and potential drawbacks on the aims of diversity management and inclusion. Research on diversity in the workplace can be found in different forms. Generally, there are two main groups. Mainstream diversity literature works within the positivist research tradition and focuses mostly on the performance aspects of diverse workforces by conducting quantitative empirical studies. Critical diversity literature aims at promoting social justice by deeply understanding, criticizing and developing possible solutions. Both research streams have contributed to comprehend diversity in the workplace, realize its potentials and support marginalized groups.

Article

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an important topic for both academics and practitioners because it potentially influences all aspects of an organization—from relationships with stakeholders to strategy to daily routines and practices. Thus, scholars have explored CSR for close to one hundred years. Prior research has been primarily conducted at the organizational and institutional levels, but has largely overlooked the individual-level of analysis, which is a major gap considering that CSR is enacted by and influences people. Recently, this gap has been addressed by an increased focus on the individual level of analysis—also known as “micro-CSR.” However, CSR is a multilevel construct, so even when focusing on the individual level, all levels need to be taken into consideration at the same time. Moreover, CSR is cross-disciplinary. Prior research has often focused on disciplines such as strategy, but fields such as psychology have much to offer—especially because CSR is conducted through and affects individuals. Moreover, due to the historical focus of CSR on the organizational level of analysis, most studies have aggregated CSR to the firm level. These studies have shown mixed results of the effects of CSR. One reason is that when CSR is aggregated, the variance at the individual level of analysis is lost. Employees might react both positively and negatively to CSR. For example, CSR is often extra-role (e.g., volunteering, being part of committees) and can have a negative effect of role strain and stress. For other employees, they might find tension with the way that CSR is carried out. Future research could dive more deeply into the psychology of CSR and how, when, and why employees might react to CSR differently.

Article

Employment generally entails a deal or a contract describing the exchange of work tasks, remuneration, and other obligations and entitlements. In addition to the formal agreement between the parties, the employment relationship also implicitly consists of perceptions and beliefs about what the deal really involves. This part of the relationship has been labeled the psychological contract (PC) and has been the focus of research for more than 50 years. Underlying principles for the employment relationship have been theories about social exchange and reciprocity. In line with these theories, the two parties aim to reciprocate what has been offered by the other party and achieve a balanced exchange. Clearly, the psychological contract is a useful theory for understanding the employment relationship, and how agreement or disagreement, very often based on unwritten and even unspoken perceptions, affect attitudes and behavior at work. Research confirming this notion has been abundant throughout the last decades. One conclusion, however, is that this research has been narrow, focusing heavily on employees’ perceptions of breach or violation of promises from employers. Results have shown negative effects on both attitudes and behavior toward the organization. Over the last decades, there has been an increasing interest in the interaction and processes involved in developing and maintaining psychological contracts and repairing them after perceptions of breach. There has been a debate about the definition of psychological contracts, and recent research shows a growing interest in the dynamics and interactions between employees and employers and the effect on that relationship. Still, there are many unanswered questions for research concerning the exchange, balance, and processes involved in maintaining and changing the employee-employer relationship. The changing labor market, as well as new forms of employment relationships developing as part of the gig economy (where workers get paid for the "gigs" they do, such as e.g., food delivery), also needs further investigation within this theoretical framework. Focus on the exchange and interaction between employees and employers has the potential to add new insight to previous organizational research, perhaps also expanding ideas about the very nature of that relationship. A definite advantage of the theory and concept of psychological contracts is their close connection to and applicability for management.

Article

Based on current earth science findings, survival of our species will rely on better management of our relationships with the environmental system in which we reside. Accomplishing this requires the enlistment of a scientific understanding and management of our internal natural systems. Specifically, human urges that are oriented toward individual and small group well-being must be successfully managed to ensure species-level adaptation and survival. An essential first step for accomplishing this is to define a set of psychological criteria presumed to mediate the relationship between these individual urges and behavior at broader levels of analysis, and particularly organizational and community behaviors. Once criteria have been elaborated by key stakeholders, assessment and feedback processes common to major areas of applied psychology provide many options for intervention. This approach is at the heart of the applied psychology of sustainability that will be elaborated in this article. After defining the core problem and laying some foundational assumptions, an overview of this approach will be presented as a means to addressing the problem of using our psychological systems to manage our psychological systems’ effects on the environment.