Organisational Psychology

Next, problems are discussed. The official and unofficial problems that people face in organisations and life in general, and the ways in which they are and could be dealt with, are also addressed. As problem solving is a large role of members with organisations, it would seem that this chapters bears importance. The different approaches can help the reader to appreciate the issues concerning problems, and that problems may not always be a bad thing.

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‘Learning the ropes’, is a chapter which highlights the way in which people learn within organisations, and the importance of learning through theory and practice as a balance. The advantages of the individual members ‘learning’ within the organisation are described. This lays down a description of different methods of learning, nature of learning and the effects of learning, which gives a broad overview of the subject.

There is a chapter about technology and machines, and their importance and influences within organisations. The ways in which they are used, and the advantages they can give an organisation are also described. However, it is not always advantageous, as it is established in this chapter. The notion of explaining both sides of the argument provides the reader with the option of drawing their own conclusions.

‘Leading and following’ discusses the role and diversity of leaders, and the characteristics and processes that are involved in leadership. Ironically, it is not always as simple as someone leads and the other s follow, it may be the case that there are different leaders for different aspects of the jobs, or groups of people who make decisions together. Anyone who assumes that in all organisations there is a direct leader, and the rest of the members are followers, will certainly have their eyes opened on reading this chapter.

The next chapter is involved with the effects of judging people, whether it is through stereotyping, or just reaching a quick but incorrect judgement about someone. The importance of labelling people is examined. People judge others on a regular basis, and hold preconceptions about certain types of people, which may not be entirely correct. However, this type of judging is also present in organisations, and leads to issues concerning incorrect labelling and conformity amongst groups. Although the type of judging that occurs might differ from those described in the chapter, it provides a good insight into the outcomes associated with judging.

Feelings are discussed, and differentiated from emotions, in that they are the private, ‘internal’ experiences. Feelings are not something that are characteristic only of people within organisations, but they do play an important role within this setting. This chapter highlights the essential aim of the book, which proposes that peoples external / private lives influence their working lives, and it is important that this is taken into consideration by organisations. It is the person rather than their function that is the focus of this chapter. The way that emotions can affect the organising of processes, and the way that certain organisations practically tell their employees how to feel, shows what an important yet overlooked area this is.

The role of sex, sexuality, sexual harassment and further issues are considered in chapter 13. This is an area of organisations that people would like to believe does not exist. However, like feelings, sex is a part of human life, and is more often than not brought into the work place. This is not discussed in a completely negative light, as light-hearted teasing, or flirting, is said to make the job more fun or pass the time. However, it is when flirting stops and harassment begins that the problems start. Also, sexuality of people within an organisation can give rise to prejudices. This chapter highlights why, although initially an activity that can have positive effects on the process of organising, sex can cause problems within an organisation.

The authors suggest that ‘under the veneer of seriousness, jokes, irony, and humour play an important part in most organisations’. The ways in which jokes are used, and their effects are among other topics within this chapter. Joking is something that has rarely -if ever- been discussed in organisation textbooks, however, on reading this chapter, the importance and effects of such a seemingly trivial issue, can be observed. The psychological issues raised appear to explain, why something as basic as a joke, can bring unity and co-operation within an organisation. However, the negative side can be seen when jokes turn cruel. In hindsight, when looking back at personal experiences within organisations, it can be seen the roles that joking plays, even though primarily it is a sub-conscious act.

Next, the divisions amongst management and their staff are discussed. The ‘cultural dimensions’ within organisations, and the extent to which they influence identity within the organisation are also examined. The types of division range from gender, to level of pay, to duties, to whether people smoke or not. Although it is difficult to make organisations (especially large ones) work as ‘one big team’, an effort has to be made to minimise the ‘us and them’ routine.

The divisions which can generally be harmless, can occasionally give rise to prejudices and stereotyping, which would lead to further problems. This is something that is not a ‘spoken’ or ‘written’ aspect of organisations, but is evident in all organisations in some form. Therefore, it is important for someone going into work to realise, that although ‘team-work’ may be the main slogan for the organisation, there are still going to be smaller ‘sub-teams’ within it.

There is a chapter that addresses the management of diversity and differences, and the effects of dealing with these issues are incorporated into this chapter. The differences that are described, range from cultural, to generation differences, to just differences from the norm. Although this does not imply that differences are always negative. Instead the chapter highlights the possible contributions such differences could make to an organisation if managed correctly.

Career-ing is the title of the next chapter, and this is a more sociological and psychological chapter, as it proposes that careers are an assumed part of life for even the youngest of people. The nature and difficulties within career building, as well as the types of career, are discussed. This is a novel chapter, in the sense that it does not try to imply that careers are easy to gain, and that all people of all genders ages, and social groups will have the same opportunities. It is a realistic chapter, which deals with an issue that has been around for many years, this honesty makes a refreshing change, and gives information about the practical issues regarding organisations that are so rarely discussed.

It is not only factors within the organisation that effects it’s running. A large external factor is the consumer, and this is the focus of the chapter titled ‘producing and consuming’. The ways in which the consumer can affect the processes within an organisation, are central to this chapter. This issue appears to be one that is not always addressed in traditional text books, and allows the reader to appreciate just how much the external environment, and primarily the consumer can affect the day-to-day and long term running of an organisation.

As previously mentioned, members of an organisation are also affected by their external lives, which the authors focus on in chapter 19. The interaction of home and work life, in various situations is described. It is important for the reader to establish that when within an organisation, it is allowed and even expected that their home lives may occasionally overlap. Which is a more realistic attitude, than making a divide between the two, which is often done in organisational textbooks.

The final chapter is called ‘learning and organising in uncertain times’. This chapter highlights that ‘learning about organisations can never end’, due to the fact that they are always changing. The ways in which to deal with changes are examined. This chapter is one that would not regularly be found in traditional textbooks, which suggest that the theories which have been used for past years still apply today, and will continue to do so for years to come.

It is felt that this chapter reminds the reader that although all that has been discussed may be true for some organisations, at the present moment, that could all change in one year, one month, or even one week. At the end of the book suggestions are made for new, improved or more detailed research into the areas discussed, and even those left out. This provides a good base for those interested in promoting their learning, and knowledge, and for those thinking beyond the covers of the book.

The content and structure of the book is somewhat interesting, but confusing. This is because although the chapters consist of explanations, examples of real-life situations and occasional theory, there does not appear to be a clear link between the chapter as divided by this book, and traditional chapters. However, this may be a result of being unadjusted to the ‘way of thinking’ proposed by the authors. The theories and further detail is explained in the ‘reading on’ section of each chapter, and the section in the thesaurus that is related to the concepts in discussion. As this book is not divided in similar ways to those of other more conventional textbooks, a table is given at the beginning so it is possible to cross reference which chapters in this book correspond to topics in other textbooks.