Understanding and Managing People

Understanding and Managing People
Understanding and Managing People

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Understanding and Managing People

Understanding and managing people can be a daunting task. The process involves numerous concerns brought about by the complexity of handling multiple individuals with the balance of following strict regulations. This paper breaks down a section of such complexity by addressing a number of contemporary issues facing organisational behaviour. In addition, the paper seeks to point out the impact of such issues on the human resource practices within the company.

Contemporary issues facing the field of organisational behaviour

Given the breadth of content and research in the field of organisational behaviour, many of the issues and topics are widely researched. However, the field is rather flex, with issues changing every now and then. As such despite the numerous research in the field, there are always new and incoming issues that require attention and research. This section discusses a number of contemporary issues facing the field of organisational behaviour as outlined below.

Diversity in the workplace

For the longest time, workplace diversity has been an issue under the radar of a lot of companies and their management. Over the years, the management and definition of diversity in the workplace have titled and shifted with changing global concerns. Workplace diversity refers to the inclusion of the various characteristics, similarities, and differences between the members of staff in a given organisation. Such differences include race, age, cultural background, handicaps, education levels, religion, and sexual orientation among others (Saxena, 2014, pp. 77 – 78).

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While the issue of diversity has its impact on organisational behaviour, it is not among the most crucial. However, mismanagement of diversity can have potentially disastrous outcomes (Davidson & Burke, 2016, pp. 254 – 257). To counter such, modern management practice calls for inclusion to cater for such differences. While the concept is theoretically simple, the implementation calls for much more focus and can be quite resource-incentive as discussed in the next section.

A recent contentious issue in organizational behaviour tied to diversity and inclusion is the inclusion of women in management. In the recent years, research has indicated that firms have had a direct increase in various metrics of business success from improved gender equality, inclusion, and diversity within the company (Davidson & Burke, 2016, pp. 29 – 30). Such inclusion fosters better relationships and promotion of women as integral parts of the organization rather than unwelcome players.


Positivity as an independent field of psychological knowledge has widespread research and coverage. However, the case is not the same for its impact in the workplace, and on the organisational behaviour. New studies indicate the impact of positivity in an individual to an increase in their work effort and ethic (Warr, Bindl, Parker, & Inceoglu, 2013). In addition, such positivity has a high potential to spread across the firm and create a phenomenon known as positive organisational behaviour.

With an increase in positive organisational behaviour, there is an increase in firm qualities such as hope, optimism, resilience, the development of psychological capital, and self-efficiency (Luthans & Youssef, 2007, pp. 327- 336). Luthans and Youssef (2007, pp. 339 – 340) also indicate the presence of strong links between the positivity of the individual, better firm performance, and positive organisational behaviour.

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Reciprocity and Social Exchange Theory

As with the other terms, the history of reciprocity and theories of social exchange has been an issue under research for a long time. However, only recently did scholars gain interest in its relationship with organisational behaviour. The concept of reciprocity at the workplace may result either from transactional needs, folk belief or as a moral and cultural norm. In an organisational setting, transactional reciprocity is most common.

In such a setting, most of the interactions are interdependent on the exchange of various resources. Such engagements form the basis of social exchange relationships in the workplace. Here, reciprocity begins upon signing a work contract, and negotiations kick in almost immediately, where the exchange is between the hours of work and a form of agreed compensation, that is usually monetary (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2015).

The concepts of reciprocity and social exchange influence organisational behaviour in a number of ways. Among the most common is the fostering of cordial interactions between employees (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2015). A second is the enhancement of personal, behavioural and team commitment to various tasks and the company as a whole (Shiu, Jiang, & Zaefarian, 2014), and a third is the increase of equity and inclusion of historically marginalized groups within the organisation (Singh & Vinnicombe, 2004).

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Trade Unions

The impact of trade unions and their influence on work productivity is not as widespread a topic as their relationship with worker remuneration. However, trade unions have an impact on employment, career growth and the behaviour of firms, employees, and employers (Blanchflower, Millward, & Oswald, 1991; Bryson, 2005). Unionisation has a largely positive effect on the work relationships between employees, and between employees and the employer. The change in behaviour emanates from the changes in pay levels, employment levels, and security of tenure (Millward, Forth, & Bryson, 2001).

The influence of these issues on Human Resource practices

Diversity in the workplace

Inclusion and improving on increased diversity in the workplace is a key goal for the human resources department in a firm. Therefore, the increase in scholarly discourse and willingness of firms to increase inclusion and foster equality is a big boost to HR practices, especially the inclusion of women in managerial and decision-making positions. 


The concept of individualistic positivity, as well as positive organisational behaviour, increase the wellness of the individual as well as overall increase in work output and efficiency of the firm. According to the CIPD, this increases the ability to meet work targets and set quotas of work (CIPD, 2015). Therefore, the issue of positivity helps further human resource practices within the organisation.

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Reciprocity and Social Exchange Theory

Successful implementation of reciprocity and SET within the workplace is vital towards better overall relations. SET calls for better relationships between colleagues, and between workers and employers. This is in line with the goals of HRM practices. Therefore, reciprocity and social exchange within the organisation help to improve HR practices.

Trade Unions

In spite of the common goals of both human resource practice and trade unions at improving welfare and providing better working conditions, the two sometimes find fault with each other. For example, while unionisation uses a collectivist approach, HRM prefers an individualistic approach to managing situations. In addition, human resource models are based on high trust levels, while adversarial relations pushed by unionisation call for decreased trust.


Improving diversity in the workplace, enhancing a sense of positivity, implementing the concept of reciprocity and social exchange theory, and unionisation stand out as examples of contemporary issues facing the organisation and with an impact on the organisational behaviour. Each has its distinctive influence on organisational behaviour, as well as its effect on the human resource practices, where some foster such operations, and others provide challenges to the HR department. However, they all serve to increase the understanding and management of people within an organisation.


Blanchflower, D. G., Millward, N., & Oswald, A. J. (1991). Unionism and employee behaviour. The Economic Journal, 815 – 834.

Bryson, A. (2005, September 1). Union effects on employee relations in Britain. Journal of Human Relations, 58(9), 1111 – 1139. doi:10.1177/0018726705058912

CIPD. (2015). Quotas and targets: How do they affect diversity progress? London: CIPD.

Cropanzano, R., & Mitchell, M. S. (2015). Social Exchange Theory: An Interdisciplinary Review. Journal of Management, 31(6), 874 – 900. doi:10.1177/0149206305279602

Davidson, M. J., & Burke, R. J. (2016). Women in Management Worldwide: Progress and Prospects (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge Publishing.

Luthans, F., & Youssef, C. M. (2007). Emerging Positive Organizational Behavior. Journal of Management, 33(3), 321 – 349. doi:10.1177/0149206307300814

Millward, N., Forth, J., & Bryson, A. (2001). Who calls the tune at work? The impact of trade unions on jobs and pay. Layerthorpe: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Saxena, A. (2014). Workforce Diversity: A Key to Improve Productivity. Procedia Economics and Finance, 11(1), 76 – 85. doi:10.1016/S2212-5671(14)00178-6

Shiu, E., Jiang, Z., & Zaefarian, G. (2014). Antecedents of behavioural commitment in inter-organizational relationships: a field study of the UK construction industry. Journal of Construction Management and Economics, 32(9), 888 – 903. doi:10.1080/01446193.2014.915335

Singh, V., & Vinnicombe, S. (2004). Why So Few Women Directors in Top UK Boardrooms? Evidence and Theoretical Explanations. Corporate Governance: An international review (pp. 479 – 488). Blackwell Publishers.

Warr, P., Bindl, U. K., Parker, S. K., & Inceoglu, I. (2013). Four-Quadrant Investigation of Job-related Affects and Behaviours. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(3), 342 – 363. doi:10.1080/1359432X.2012.744449

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