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As an amateur linguist, I am fascinated by words. Their origins and meanings help me to better relate to my surroundings and specific concepts. Many would say that one can not begin to understand a word or concept until a meaning is agreed upon. John Locke wrote in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1977) that words signify ideas, and furthermore that if a person can not identify the idea behind the word then the words are lacking in meaning (Kemerling, 2001). This agreement in terminology regarding key concepts is a culmination of my research into word origins, and as defined by Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn in the text Organizational Behavior (2005). Once a concept is defined I can learn from its application in specific situations or experiences therefore; giving the word significance.
Organizational behavior is the study of human and group behavior in organizations using methods such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, and political science (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborn, 2005). This study includes the understanding of key concepts to help us to understand, predict, and possibly influence human behavior in order to achieve higher performance levels. The constant change in an organizations mission and its structure greatly affect the nature of its organizational behavior. To emphasize how as managers we are responsible for being current in our decisions in relation to the organization's culture, how we communicate, how we deal with diversity, and other core concepts of organizational behavior, is imperative. These decisions greatly affect our effectiveness and efficiency, so we must learn as much as we can from our education and experiences, to be the best managers we can be.
As I have stated, managers have the daunting task of encompassing many different concepts into their decision-making process. Understanding behavior is one thing but understanding how the culture of an organization influences the behavior of an organization is another. Organizational culture is a collective belief system of ethics, norms and values that influence its member's actions (Schermerhorn et al, 2005). Organizational culture is the rules that hold a company together by setting behavior standards either written or implied, and stem from experiences that allow us to decide what we deem important. The word culture is from the Latin root colere, meaning to inhabit, cultivate or honor (Wikipedia, 2005). Each of these meanings can be applied to the organizational sense of culture, because we exist, grow, and respect as members of a group. Many of our behaviors are built by the culture in which we exist. A culture can be a culmination of upbringing, personal performance standards, faith, and prejudices.
The existence of variation in an organization's workforce is commonly referred to as diversity. Diversity can include and range from different races, people from different cultures, people with physical limitations, and people with different skill levels, different sexual orientations, and unique experiences. Respect and knowledge of diversity lends to our understanding of how to relate to each other and how best to accomplish goals using appropriate communication and actions. If an organization exists in proximity with its customers then an understanding of how we relate to the diversity of our customers is closely tied to our success rate.
If communication is the exchange of information, then the how is as important as the what. Technology has brought us many new innovations the area of communication. Board rooms and memos are being replaced or supplemented by conference calling and e-mail. Regardless of the mode of communication, the message should be clear and concise to minimize confusion. The word communication indicates togetherness by its prefix com-' and is derived from the Latin word communicatio meaning to impart or share (Harper, 2001). Communication is not only relating information but sharing, receiving and giving feedback while respecting organizational culture, and structure. Communication is the backbone of a company because its existence allows us to set forth goals, checks on progress, and make changes to the goals. Formal, informal, upward, downward, horizontal, and non-verbal communication can all affect productivity and morale if used inappropriately. Our organization communicates horizontally, formally and informally. We joke, share e-mails and at the same time expect compliance with memos, written procedures and direct commands. Our non-verbal methods may be a roll of the eye or the extension of a finger, both of which fit the culture of our organization, and allow us to bond more as a family. Key to a manager's success is using these methods appropriately in an effective and efficient manner; therefore building a communication-rich organizational culture.
Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency
Everything we do or say should be effective and efficient, especially when these actions involve other peoples' time and money. Effectiveness comes from the Latin word effectus meaning accomplishment or performance, and the word efficiency comes from the Latin word efficientem, meaning productive or skilled (Harper, 2001). In the modern sense of the words, efficiency is completing a task without wasted time or energy, and effectiveness is the degree or extent to which that task is achieved. Tattooing involves both with an emphasis on effectiveness. Efficiency may earn us more money, but effectiveness will earn us more customers. Experiences and innovations can improve our effectiveness and efficiency.
Our use of the word learning comes from the Old English word leornian meaning "to get knowledge, be cultivated," (Harper, 2001). Schlermerhorn, et al. states that organizational learning is "the process of acquiring knowledge and utilizing information to adapt successfully to changing circumstances" (2005). The process of acquiring knowledge can be through continuing education, such as in my organization, and being cultivated is the knowledge we receive through experience and growing from both. If we were not constantly learning and adapting to changes in the tattoo industry then we would loose our customer base to someone who is.
An understanding of organizational behavior and its concepts goes beyond the entry in a dictionary. This understanding comes from examining the idea of the word, our organizations, and applying that information to become stronger and more competitive. Communicating, using diversity, learning, and building strong cultures are all part of organizational behavior and make us more efficient and effective when used.
Harper, D. (2001). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved November, 11, 2005 from,
Kemmerling, G. (2002). History of Philosophy. Retrieved November, 11, 2005, from
Locke, J. (1977). Essay III. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford and New
York: Oxford University Press.
Schermerhorn, J.R., Hunt, J.G., & Osborn, R.N. (2005). Organizational Behavior. New York:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Wikipedia. (2005). Retrieved November, 11, 2005 from, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture# Culture_as_values.2C_norms.2C_and_artifacts
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"Organizational Behavior Concepts And Terms." 123HelpMe.com. 08 Dec 2013