Organizational behavior is an extremely complex and multifaceted phenomenon that encompasses numerous aspects, factors, features, decisions, and acts. No wonder thousands of pages in textbooks and scholarly research have been written to advance professional knowledge of organizational behaviors and dynamics. It does not really matter whether one works in a multinational corporation or a small non-profit organization, people are always the main driver of organizational growth. Therefore, the success of all management and organizational decisions depends on the degree to which managers and employees “respect everyone’s needs, talents, and aspirations, as well as understand the dynamics of human behavior in organizational systems” (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn & Uhl-Bien, 2011, p.4). Certainly, the scientific basis of organizational behavior is crucial for the current understanding of organizations and organizational processes. However, theories alone can never suffice to bring managers and employees to the desired strategic outcomes. Much more important is the ability to translate theories into practice and to balance the calls for sustained profitability and competitiveness with the principles of diversity, culture, continuous learning, equity, and compliance.
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I have many questions regarding organizational dynamics and the factors affecting organizational behaviors and processes. Most questions are related to the concepts of diversity, equity, and culture. The main reason why these questions have reached my veins is because I am a 25-year-old Saudi Arabian girl studying at the California Lutheran University. This is the first time I find myself in such a diverse environment, and I have many questions regarding my professional and organizational future. The first and, probably, the most painful question is about individual difference and the meaning of diversity within organizations. How do we reconcile the cultural differences and how do we benefit from them? Culture is the shared way people do everyday things: from eating and dressing to working and solving problems (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). From my current position, I realize that culture plays a crucial role in the way people understand and deal with one another.
As of today, I face numerous cultural challenges. I recognize that my perceptions of power distance, individualism and collectivism, femininity and gender, uncertainty and long-term orientation differ greatly from those in other cultures. I see a great deal of misunderstanding between members of different cultures, and I often wonder how I will be able to reconcile those differences and turn them into an essential source of stability and profits for an organization. I have many concerns regarding the meaning of culture, as this construct cannot be directly accessed and observed (Hofstede, 1993). From my experience, culture can manifest through others’ verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Given that management by itself is an American invention (Hofstede, 1993), it is interesting to see how the most popular organizational dynamics models are adjusted to fit the conditions of increased workplace diversity. I agree with Schermerhorn et al. (2011) in that diversity offers numerous benefits and has far-reaching implications for the way organizations operate. Diversity helps to attract and retain the best talents, enhances organizations’ capacity-building strategies, improves their marketing and business communication outcomes, and results in huge economic, social, and ethical returns (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). In light of all these challenges, I have to learn the best diversity strategies and approaches to sustain positive pro-diversity organizational dynamics.
The second question grows from the first one: how does culture impact job satisfaction? The fact that culture is an essential component of job satisfaction cannot be denied. According to Schermerhorn et al. (2011), the five main components of job satisfaction include: the work itself, supervision quality, relationships among workers, promotion opportunities, and pay equity and adequacy. It is possible to assume that, depending on employees’ cultural backgrounds, they will also exhibit different perceptions and attitudes towards work, pay, co-worker relationships, and supervision. These perceptions, in turn, will shape individuals’ decisions to become and remain members of the target organization and their decisions to perform effectively and productively within the scope of their responsibilities (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). I am still quite young, and I understand that culture is not the only source of influence on organizational dynamics, but I know that it can greatly contribute to the development of effective relationships between job satisfaction and workplace/organizational performance.
Based on everything mentioned above, the third question is about learning: how to shape positive attitudes towards diversity and difference within organizations? I am convinced that positive attitudes towards difference and diversity exemplify one of the vital elements of positive cultural dynamics in any organization. As a person from a non-western culture, I have already realized that the development of positive diversity attitudes is the basis for achieving the strategic profitability goals in an organization. I have also learned that coercion and negative reinforcement cannot help individuals, working in one organization, develop positive relationships with one another. Diversity awareness and openness to cultural difference are the results of a long and labor-intensive process, which requires commitment and perseverance.
Therefore, I would probably support Schermerhorn et al. (2011) in their discussion of positive reinforcement and shaping. The latter can be described as “the creation of a new behavior by the positive reinforcement or successive approximations to it” (Schermerhorn et al., 2011, p.100). In other words, shaping diversity awareness requires managers to become a role model for their colleagues and subordinates. Moreover, it seems that organizations will hardly benefit from punishing their employees for non-compliance with the principles of diversity. I feel extremely concerned about the issue of individual attitudes, because individual attitudes and perceptions cannot be imposed. My experiences suggest that external rewards can hardly suffice to teach employees to be tolerant and patient with their diverse colleagues. The development of positive diversity attitudes is all about continuous learning. As a result, learning should become one of the foundational sources of positive changes in any organization’s dynamics.
Speaking about diversity awareness, cultural difference, and inclusion, we imply and confirm the importance of equity and fairness. The latter greatly impact the nature and patterns of organizational dynamics. Consequently, the fourth important question to be asked is: how to establish and maintain equity? Here, one of the central concepts is the concept of social comparison (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). More specifically, individual perceptions of equity and equity dynamics in organizations stem from the social comparisons made by individual workers against their colleagues, managers, and the organizational culture, in which they operate. In any given situation, individuals estimate their rewards against the amount of efforts they have made to achieve the desired outcome, as well as against the rewards received by other workers and their efforts/ contribution to organizational performance (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). Such comparisons are inevitable in any, even the most equitable, organization. In many situations, individual workers will also consider the potential impacts of culture on other employees’ rewards.
Schermerhorn et al. (2011) can be right stating that equity comparisons are an inevitable ingredient of organizations’ equity dynamics, and felt negative inequities should be anticipated and recognized. However, I still have many questions in terms of the ways in which organizations build and maintain equity. Is it possible at all to avoid these negative comparison perceptions and results? The assumption that the motivational value of tangible and intangible rewards is determined by the way each individual interprets these rewards suggests that equity is impossible without considering employees’ cultural backgrounds and its potential impacts on equity perceptions. At the same time, it is never possible to change the system of rewards simply on the basis of individuals’ cultural perceptions and backgrounds. Positive organizational dynamics is that, which presents a balanced picture of effective rewards and positive equity perceptions among workers.
Finally, if we speak about diversity, culture, equity, and performance, another important question is whether equity is enough to ensure excellent performance within organizations. Equity is a unique and extremely challenging type of intrinsic reward (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). However, equity alone cannot bring employees and the entire organization to the desired goal. As mentioned earlier, organizational dynamics is a multifaceted concept that encompasses numerous factors, meanings, and decisions. Apart from equity, diverse workers can and should be motivated by the richness of their jobs and extensive development and professional growth opportunities (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). The sense of achievement and challenging tasks can enhance the person-job fit in any organization and organizational environment (Schermerhorn et al., 2011). Yet, again, the nature of these challenging tasks and the professional growth opportunities available to workers should be based on their cultural perceptions and attitudes. Culture, diversity, and equity can moderate the relationship between task performance and the rewards, which result from individuals’ participation in organizational dynamics.
For a person, who belongs to a non-western culture and has rich cultural experiences, the questions of diversity, equity, fairness, and culture are, probably, the most important. In the conditions of globalization and changing demographics, the impacts of culture and diversity on organizational dynamics demand particular attention. The relationship between diversity and job satisfaction, methods to develop positive diversity attitudes and perceptions, models to establish and maintain equity, as well as other factors affecting individual performance within organizations require professional analysis. All questions discussed in this paper are directly or indirectly related to the concepts of diversity and cultural perceptions, and I hope that this course will help me to resolve the controversy surrounding the culture construct and its implications for organizational dynamics.