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Culture and Organizational Behaviour.

CULTURE AND ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR by Jai B.P. Sinha, Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 2008, pp.xix+427, price Rs. 395.

This book highlights the effect of culture on organizational behaviour. The fourteen chapters in the book are organized into four parts, the backdrop, individuals, groups and organizations. A glossary of terms has been provided, and each chapter is followed by a summary and exercises. A comprehensive list of references is also given.

The backdrop contains three chapters. Organizational behaviour is the social science of how individuals, groups and organizations function. This part suggests ways of improving organizational effectiveness and employees' performance and well being. The field of organizational behaviour has been transformed from the machine model to human relations and socio-technical approaches. Sinha emphasizes that Indian organizational behaviour is a joint function of the diversity in the components of Indian mindset and the high context sensitivity of the Indians. It is stressed that culture is not the sole determinant of organizational behaviour. The nature of technology, products and resources affect organization structure and processes that are proximate factors that impact on organizational behaviour overtly, while cultural influences, although pervasive, are implicit and have to be inferred from organizational structure and processes. Work organizations in India are embedded in Indian culture that influences and is influenced by the economic, political and social factors, and is also subjected to global business influences. These contextual forces affect the way the Indian workforce thinks, feels and acts. As Indian organizations are emulating the global mindset of functioning, ethical aspects such as dubious business practices, downsizing, out sourcing and different standards of products and services are posing problems that organizational behaviour scientists have to address.

Two chapters are included in part 2. Behaviour is determined jointly by one's personality and situational demands, culture impacts the job-personality fit by hitting a balance in favour of either personality or job demands. Collectivist culture confirms to job and organi-zational demands. Jai B.P. Sinha and A. Pandey in a study have identified four facets of personality that are typically of Indians, dependent prone, collectivist, materialistic and holistic. Dependent proneness has a negative impact on organizational behaviour. A collectivist personality will be a good fit in organi-zations that value relationship more than sheer performance. Materialistically oriented employees are likely to fit well in organizations that are globally oriented and competitive. Holistic is an ideal that strives for excellence by blending people and task requirements. Next, well being at the most basic level determines the absence of any physical, social or psychological malfunctioning. At the highest level, it means self actualization and self realization. The Indian conceptualization of well being visualizes it as a growth process starting with the mundane, but proceeding towards being spiritual and finally aiming to approximate an ideal state that transcends human limitations. To minimize stress, it is suggested that organizations that create conducive conditions to work relate positively to each other and realize personal growth along with organizational viability. The Indian approach focuses on individual's efforts to grow in mind and body, realize spiritual self, and thereby remain immune to stress.

Six chapters are covered in Part 3, groups. Collectivism and individualism affect the extent to which individuals get integrated into their groups by yielding to group goals and confirming to group norms etc. Individuals in a group either prioritize their personal interest, group interest or attempt to strike a balance between the two. Cooperation aims to pool individual resources to realize group goals, competition may lead to conflicts. The negotiating process can aim in arriving at an agreement regarding the shared goals and interests of the members of the group. Teams are special groups that are focused on task accomplishment. The essence of forming teams is to integrate diverse resources for optional results. The success of the teams depends on the cultural and organizational support, selection of right people and adequate programme for team building. Effective teams in Indian organizations need to have vertical structures where the team leader plays an active role, maintains a nurturing climate, encourages members to interact freely and consults them while making decisions.

The concept of power is closely related to concepts such as influence, control, authority and politics. Power manifests itself in influence. There are four ways of expressing power: need-dependency, self control, assertion and duty. The four modes present a range of expressing power. Organizational politics is a joint product of the intensity of individuals and groups personal needs and goals and the organizational arrangement/ or failure to provide legitimate means to serve them along with organizational interests and goals. Effective leadership involves the process of consulting, motivating and empower-ing subordinates to function more effectively and to contribute organi-zational effectiveness. It is a joint function of the characteristics of the leader and the subordinates and the nature of organizational context which includes the nature of task charac-teristics of an organization and the surroundings. There are three broad categories of theories of leadership: leader centred theories, theories of leader subordinate interactive relationships, and contingency theories. Both the leader-centred and the interactive theories eventually gravitate towards the contingency approach. In the Indian context, Sinha has developed the nurturing task -participate (NT-P) model of leadership. A leader's nurturance (N) is expressed through care and consideration for his subordinates. It is contingent on subordinates' preference for dependency, personalized relation-ship and their willingness to accept superior status of the leader. The NT leader directs and guides his sub-ordinates to perform well, and as they grow and mature, he shifts towards participative style. Recently T.T Srinath emphasized that a leader should inspire, not motivate. He points out that contemporary leadership theory is that controlling of behaviour of others is acceptable. But this is leadership based on fear and motivation. Inspiring leaders, however, appeal to hearts and souls by engaging with people at this level, by honoring, exciting and nursing their souls, and give people more than one reason to work; we give them a passion for work (The Hindu Business Line July 6, 2009).

Three chapters are included in part 4, organizations. An organizational culture is the product of many factors, some of which are located within the organization, while others in the external milieu and still others in the history of its formation. In the Indian context, Sinha has identified four types of organizational cultures, soft, techno-cratic, work-centre nutrient and an oral work centre out of which work-centre nutrient work culture holds promise. It shares with the technocratic culture the centrality of work. Employees believe that the management rewards hard work, recognizes merit, establishes clear norms of performance and gives the employees adequate work load. Supervisors expect their subordinates to work hard, provide close supervision and direction and differentially reward those who work harder. Formal systems are established to enable organizations to realize its goals. All work hard irrespective of their personal grievances. The management promotes a nutrienttask oriented leadership. Tata Steel used to be a model of work centre nurturing culture till the end of 1980s (p.311). Next, organi-zations vary in emphasizing the process of creating knowledge, using knowledge for strategic decision making, faci-litating the innovation of products and services and turning them into marketable forms. The management perspective draws heavily on inform-ation technology. Another aspect is organizational learning. It helps people in the organization adjust, adapt, innovate and transform themselves for gaining and retaining their competitive advantage over their rivals. Lastly, the author emphasizes that the most crucial way organizations develop is by building human capital consisting of individual and group level and global capabilities. Although, HRM strives to take measures and improve organizational perform-ance, they face a dilemma of optimizing employees performance and their well being.

In sum, the book presents the basic knowledge of organizational behaviour as developed in the West, and stimulates the research in the Indian cultural perspective. The book will be of imme-nse use to students and teachers of organizational behaviour in the faculty of management and social sciences.

P.C. Bansal

Former Scientist Defence Research and Development Organization Government of India

New Delhi
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Author:Bansal, P.C.
Publication:Indian Journal of Industrial Relations
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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