Organizational Behaviour vs Organizational Theory

Organizational Behaviour (OB) is a study of people. While this could be likened to the famous Pavlov and his experiments with dogs, in this case, the study is specifically around the attitudes and performance of people in organizations.


OB tries to analyze how the work performed contributes to the effectiveness of a business and it specifically looks at it in three different ways. From the point of view of the individual, the group or team and then the larger organization itself. At the individual level, OB focuses on what makes an employee tick and looks at things like motivation, leadership and employee attitudes to work. This analysis is very specific and focused on the employee level. From the point of view of the larger organization, organizational theory (OT) becomes the tool of choice and its focus is targeted more towards structure and design at the organizational level.

Both disciplines are heavily guided by psychology (how people interact and work together), anthropology (the culture of different people) and economics (why and how people are incentivized with respect to motivation). 

Management & OB

Management is generally defined as the process of planning, organizing and leading the people and processes within an organization. Traditionally managers were responsible for supervising and motivating subordinates, but newer styles of management focus more on allowing a manager to be someone that enables and coaches an employee to succeed. The old-fashioned style of repetitive, activity-based management is changing to a more proactive method. Management and its definition is something that changes from organization to organization - there is no "one guiding principle" that all managers follow as it evolves naturally from the environment.

There is a strong relationship between OB and management where OB tries to explain how and why people act in certain ways due to current prevailing theories. These theories are often focused on many of the day-to-day responsibilities that managers face. OB in this context is the theory that managers use to put practical applications into effect to benefit the organization that they work for.