Organizational Behaviour

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Course description

Prerequisite: None
This course – Organizational Behaviour – is concerned with the theory and practice of how individuals perform within organizations. It attempts to determine why people do things (or do not do things) that they are supposed to do as part of their job. Among the people who work for municipal, provincial and federal governments there is a vast diversity of educational levels, gender, cultural, ethnic, racial, social, political and religious attitudes and backgrounds which cause individuals to perceive the same things differently. How can this diversity become an organizational strength rather than a weakness?

Anyone wishing to occupy a position as a manager or supervisor in any of the three levels of government must learn how to coordinate and effectively supervise the work of his/her subordinates. Organizational behaviour studies the particular properties of behaviour which can result in improved supervision and improved leadership. There are properties such as worker personality, job satisfaction, motivation, work group dynamics, intra- and inter-group conflict and organizational politics. These will all be the subjects of the next four units.

Virtually all textbooks written on organizational behaviour are written from the perspective of business administration rather than public administration. Probably this is because business administration incorporates the content of industrial psychology and sociology of organizations. There is a strong need for a textbook which concentrates on organizational behaviour in public administration in Canada.

The material in this course is designed to help you think about human behaviour as something that can actually be studied and observed. If you do this you will become more sensitive to the needs of the individuals who work with you. By being more sensitive to the needs of others and to your own needs, you can help your employees or co-workers satisfy their own needs as well as those of the organization.

Please try to evaluate your behaviour (inherited and learned) as you proceed through this course, and to experiment with ideas and practices that may help to increase your effectiveness, both as a manager and as a human being working with other human beings.

Learning objectives

Unit One

After completing the unit and the readings you should be able to:

  • provide a definition of motivation;
  • distinguish between the various theories of motivation presented;
  • apply some of these theories to the case study presented;
  • determine how learning theory may be useful to an organization; and
  • explain why goal setting has been used in many organizations.

Unit Two

After completing the unit and the readings you should be able to:

  • define the concept of group;
  • apply the theories of group creation and development in you own workplace;
  • discuss the differences between functional and dysfunctional conflict;
  • test techniques of intergroup conflict in your workplace;
  • identify the different bases of power; and
  • discuss how individuals and groups use power.

Unit Three

After completing the unit and the readings, you should be able to:

  • define the concept of leadership;
  • distinguish between a number of different theories about leadership;
  • identify your own leadership style; and
  • Experiment with other leadership styles you do not usually use in the workplace or at home.

Unit Four

The main objective is to appreciate how organizational culture affects organizational behaviour. Moreover, since the organizational culture within the fire service is destructive, so the organizational behaviour of and within the fire department must be distinct from other types of organizations.

Unit Five

After completing the unit and readings you should be able to:

  • define the concept and practice of organizational development;
  • identify some of the key steps in its successful implementation;
  • discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different organizational development approaches;
  • analyse which interventions are appropriate in differing circumstances.