Organisational behaviour is a blended discipline that has grown out of contributions from numerous earlier fields of study. These inter disciplinary influences are the root for what is increasingly recognized as the independent discipline of organisational behaviour.

Organisational behaviour is an applied behavioural science that is built on contributions from a number of behavioural disciplines. The sciences of psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, engineering, management and medicine are the primary fields of study outof which organisational behaviour has grown. Each of these sciences has had its own importance and unique influence on the discipline of organisational behaviour.


Psychology is the science of human behaviour and dates back to the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Psychology traces its origins to philosophy and the science of physiology. Psychology is the science that seeks to measure, explain and sometimes change the behaviour of humans. Psychologists concern themselves with studying and attempting to understand individual behaviour.

Since its origin, psychology has itself become differentiated into a number of specialized fields, such as clinical, experimental, military, organisational and Psychology. The topics in organisational psychology, which include work teams, work motivation, training and development, power and leadership, human resource planning and workplace wellness, are very similar to the topics covered by organisational behaviour.

Those who have contributed and continue to add to the knowledge of OB are learning theorist, personality theorists, counseling psychologists and most important, industrial and organisational psychologists. Industrial and organisational psychologists concern themselves with problems of fatigue, boredom, perception, learning motivation, job satisfaction, personality, performance appraisals, employee selection, job designing, work stress etc.


It is the applied science of healing or treatment of diseases to enhance an individual's health and well-being. Medicine embraces concern for both physical and psychological health with the concern for the concern mental health dating back at least sixty years.

More recently, as the war against acute diseases is being won, medical attention has shifted from the acute diseases such as influenza to the more chronic, such as hypertension. Individual behaviour and lifestyle patterns play a more important role intreating chronic diseases than in treating acute diseases. These trends have contributed to the growth of wellness programmes in the context of corporate medicine. These programmes have led to the increasing attention to medicine in organisational behaviour.


Sociology, the science of society, has made important contributions to knowledge about group and inter group dynamics in the study of organisational behaviour. Because sociology takes the society rather than the individual as a point of departure, the sociologist is concerned with the variety of roles within a society or culture, the norms and standards of behaviour that emerge within societies and groups, and the examination of the consequences of compliant and deviant behaviour within social group.

Sociologists have made their greatest contributions to organisational behaviour through their study of group behaviour in organisations, particularly formal and complex organisations. Some of the areas within organisational behaviour that have received inputs from sociologist are group dynamics, design of work teams, organisational culture, formal organisations theory and structure, organisational culture, formal organization theory and structure, organisational technology, bureaucracy, communications, power, conflict and inter group behaviour.

Social Psychology

Social psychology is a branch of psychology which borrows concepts from psychology and sociology. Social psychology focuses on the influence of people on one another.

Social psychologists have made significant contributions in the area of measuring, understanding and changing attitudes; communication patterns; the way in which group activities can satisfy individual needs, and group decision-making processes.


Engineering has made important contributions to our understanding of the design of work. By taking basic engineering ideas and applying them to human behaviour in work organisations, Fredrick Taylor had a profound influence on the early years of the study of organisational behaviour. Taylor's engineering background led him to place special emphasis of human productivity and efficiency in work behaviour. His notions of performance standards and differential piece- rate system have contributed to the growth of organisational behaviour.


Originally called administrative science, is a discipline concerned with the study of overseeing activities and supervising people in organisations. It emphasizes the design, implementation, and management of various administrative and organisational systems.

Management is the first discipline to take the modern corporation as the unit of analysis, and this view point distinguishes the discipline's contribution to the study of organizational behaviour.


It is the science of human learned behaviour and is especially important to understand organisational culture. Anthropologists study societies to learn about human beings and their activities. Their work on cultures and environments has helped us understand differences in fundamental values, attitudes, and behaviour between people in different countries and within different organisations.

Cultural anthropology focuses on the origins of culture and the patterns of behaviour as culture is communicated symbolically. Current research in this tradition has examined the effects of efficient cultures on organisation performance and how pathological personalities may lead to dis functional organisational cultures. Much of our current understanding of organisational culture, organisational environments, and differences between national cultures is the result of anthropologists.

Political Science

Political scientists study the behaviour of individual and groups within a political environment. Political scientists have become increasingly aware that organisations are political entities and if we are able to accurately explain and predict the behaviour of people in organisations, we need to bring a political perspective to our analysis. The contributions of political scientists are significant to the understanding of behaviour in organisations.

The Organisational context

A complete understanding of organisational behaviour requires both an understanding of human behaviour and an understanding of the organisational context within which human behaviour is acted out. The organisational context is the specific setting within which organisational behaviour is enacted. The organisational context includes:

  1. Organisations as systems: Organisations are systems of interacting components, which are people, tasks, technology and structure. These internal components also interact with components in the organisation's task environment. Organisations as open systems have people, technology, structure and purpose, which interact with elements in the organisation's environment.
  2. The Formal and Informal Organisation: The formal organisation is the part of the system that has legitimacy and of ficial recognition. The informal organisation is the unofficial part of the organisation. The informal organisation was first fully appreciated as a result of the Hawthorne studies conducted during the 1920's and 1930's. It was during the interview study, the third of the four Hawthorne studies, that the researchers began to develop a fuller appreciation for the informal elements of the Hawthorne works as an organisation.

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