Unifying Principles of

10026 Words41 Pages

ABSTRACT Theories and models of organizational behavior and management continue to increase in number and complexity. While much of the recent research has not made its way into standard business textbooks, these textbooks nonetheless offer a broad array of topics and concepts that can easily overwhelm both student and practitioner. No common thread appears to link these disparate topics, despite the fact that variations on the same theory often can be found across topics. This paper describes four underlying principles of organizational behavior and management that distill and synthesize essential features of many of the established theories and models. Each principle
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The concepts related to each principle can be viewed, alternatively, as dichotomous (a choice among opposites), continuous (a point along a continuum), or paradoxical (a contradiction or dialectic to be resolved), and applied in combination to interpret and circumscribe specific theories. Finally, the implications of these underlying principles for teaching management and organizational behavior as well as for conducting organizational and case analyses are discussed.
THE UNIFYING PRINCIPLES There are four unifying principles presented in this paper, each principle represented by two contrasting concepts. The principles are briefly described below, and the application of each principle to organizational behavior and management is illustrated through several examples. The intent of these examples is to demonstrate the range of applications for each principle, rather than to provide an exhaustive analysis. (A more complete set of applications is available from the author.)

Description of the Principle

Perhaps no concepts are more central to our understanding of organizations and management than those of the individual versus the collective. In a generic sense, the term “individual” means singular, solitary, one, alone, separate, while the term “collective” means many, multiple, together, gathered, joint. In human terms, these two words represent the
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