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Organizational Behavior: Challenges and Development Opportunities for Managers in OB

Updated on September 18, 2012

Overview: Management From Input to Output

Globalization and shifts in the American culture have changed the way organizations must approach setup and management. In the modern world, human capital is an important part of every open system organization – organizations that use external resources as inputs and convert/transform these into goods or services outputs.

Inputs include raw materials, capital, and employees. The conversion process involves information systems, machines, and human skill. The outputs are useful goods or services purchased by customers. Revenue generated by these purchases is utilized to pay expenses and facilitate the turning of the input-to-output cycle.

The rules governing each stage will obviously vary between specific companies and industries. However, they all have one thing in common: they follow a set organizational procedure, or a set of rules that employees follow to complete specific tasks.

Social Shifts Signal Changes (and Challenges) in Organizational Behavior

America and the world have undoubtedly changed over the past few decades. These changes in national culture – the set of values, beliefs, and behaviors held to be acceptable by a society – significantly impact the way organizations must function. Through the latter part of the 20th century, integration of women and minorities into the workplace was one important concern accelerated by changing social views in the national culture.

While the primary goal of any business is (and should be) to make a profit, there is increasing social pressure on businesses to also remember to “do the right thing.” The definition of “doing the right thing” is one of the concepts explored by organizational ethics. Ethics is defined as the values, beliefs, and moral rules held by an organization, specifically by the managers. Often, managers are presented with ethical dilemmas. If a cost (for example, of environmental cleanup) can be externalized and passed along to the government or public citizens at large, the business can obviously achieve profit targets more easily. But is it morally and ethically acceptable to push problems onto others? Probably not. Managers should generally try to resolve ethical dilemmas in a manner that maximizes net benefits to both company and society over the long term.

Ethics is, in fact, a critical concept in modern business. Besides the obvious moral and personal benefits, ethical conduct ensures that a company will be above reproach in case of governmental investigations (environmental, financial, regulatory, or otherwise), which could otherwise destroy a business and cripple the prospects of long term growth. Following a company code of ethics helps managers establish which goals their organization should pursue – and how.

Globalization and Cultural Differences: Perspective on OB

Another challenge facing managers is the increasing globalization of business. Most “brand name” companies the average American knows about – like Apple, Sony, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Exxon – are in reality global organizations with supply chains and operations spanning numerous countries and continents across the globe. This can cause significant complexity for managers trying to understand organizational behavior, because the culture in countries like Japan, Mexico, and Germany differs dramatically from the American culture that most managers are used to dealing with. This means that different strategies must be used to meet each individual culture’s requirements.

Globalization provides many opportunities, of course. Besides providing companies with new markets in which to conduct business, globalization allows for global learning – the process of learning processes and organizational behaviors from companies in other countries. This allows American companies to become even more productive by absorbing and incorporating tricks from German engineering or Japanese quality management.

Information Technology: Relationship to Organizational Behavior

Information technology (IT) has enabled this globalization to occur. IT is broadly defined as the “hardware, software, and skills of people” relating to the communication of information. Information is any set of useful data that conveys knowledge. IT can help improve an organization’s learning capacity and enable virtual team collaboration.

This article is written by Skyler Greene, all rights reserved. It's hosted on HubPages, an online community where everyday experts like you and me can publish high-quality articles like this one and earn a share of the ad revenue they generate. Sign up for HubPages.


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    • skylergreene profile image

      skylergreene 5 years ago

      Thanks! Kristin, there are definitely challenges when operating in foreign countries -- for example, in Europe, 2-4 weeks paid vacation is standard (compared to the American 1-2) and in Latin America, work schedules can be completely difficult. So it definitely requires a shift in thinking.

    • Yourglobalgirl profile image

      Yourglobalgirl 5 years ago from UK

      This is a great hub and very interesting to read.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      This is very informative. My husband works in IT for the international division of a large pharmaceutical company and has often told me stories about how cultural differences as they are related to the organization, including offices closing for very extended holidays in Europe. I cannot imagine how upper management deals with the dilemmas this creates.