The understanding and effective application of organizational behaviour depends on a rigorous research methodology. The search for the truth of why people behave the way they do is a very delicate and complex process. In fact, the problems are so great that many scholars, chiefly from the physical and engineering sciences, argue that there can be no precise science of behaviour. They maintain that humans cannot be treated like chemical or physical elements; they cannot be effectively controlled or manipulated. For example, the critics state that, under easily controllable conditions, 2 parts hydrogen to 1 part oxygen will always result in water and that no similar situation exists in human behaviour. Human variables such as motives, learning, perception, and values effect on the part of both subject and investigator confound the controls that are attempted. For these reasons, behavioural scientists in general and organizational behaviour researchers in a particular are often on the defensive and must be very careful to comply with accepted methods of science.
Behavioural scientists in general and organizational behaviour researchers in particular strive to attain the following hallmarks of any science:
- The overall purposes are understanding /explanation prediction and control.
- The definitions are precise and operational.
- The measures are reliable and valid
- The methods are systematic
- The results are cumulative
The relationships between the practical behavioural problems and unanswered questions facing today’s managers, research methodology and the existing body of knowledge. When a question arises or a problem evolves, the first place to turn for an answer is the existing body of knowledge. It is possible that the questions can be answered immediately or the problem solved without going any further. Unfortunately the answer is not always found in the body of knowledge and must be discovered through appropriate research methodology.
Although behavioural science in general compared to the physical and biological sciences is relatively young, and the field of organizational behaviour is even younger
There is enough accumulated knowledge that organizational behaviour principles can be provided for the effective management of human behaviour in organizations. As explained in the preface this is only text that presents research based principles of organizational behaviour. Interestingly it is the research technique of meta-analysis providing the quantitative synthesis and testing of all available studies.
Meta-analysis shows what work and the conditions under which management techniques may work better or worse in the real world. Mate–analysis is based on the simple idea that if one study shows that a management technique doesn’t work and another study shows it does, an average of those results is probably the best estimate of how well that management practice works.
There are now enough research studies in some areas of organizational behaviour to be quantitatively synthesized through meta-analysis into guiding principles, it is also recognized that many questions and problems in organizational behaviour cannot be answered or solved directly by existing knowledge or, as the accompanying OB in Action: Forget Going with Your Points out, just common sense. A working knowledge of research methodology becomes especially important to future mangers, both as knowledgeable and critical consumers of the rapidly expanding literature reporting the results of organizational behaviour research and as sophisticated practitioners who are capable of applying appropriate research methods to solve difficult problems in the workplace.
It has often been said that there is nothing as practical as a good theory. As the editors of the Journal of Applied Psychology recently declared, not simply what occurs. Yet students of organizational behaviour or usually turned off by all theories that pervade the field. The reason for all the theories of course is the still relative newness of the field and the complexity and multi-dimensionality of the variables involved. The purpose of any theory, including those found in OB, is to explain and predict the phenomenon in question; theories allow the researcher to deduce logical propositions or hypotheses that can be tested by acceptable research designs.
When we develop or test theories we inevitably exclude an array of factors that might potentially affect the phenomena under examination. Thus, theories are ever changing on the basis of the empirical. In other words, theory and research go hand in hand.
Theory is the answer to queries of why. Theory is about the connections among phenomena, as story about why acts, events, structure, and thoughts occur. Theory emphasizes the nature of casual relationships identifying what comes as well as the timing of such events. Strong theory in our view, delves into the underlying processes so as to understand the systematic reasons for a particular occurrence or non-occurrence.