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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Levels of Analysis - Foundations of Organizational Behaviour

Individual level of analysis
The level of analysis at individual level is more related to the study of aspects like learning, perception, creativity, motivation, personality, turnover, task performance, cooperative behavior, deviant behavior, ethics, and cognition.

Group level of analysis
The group level of analysis involves the study of group dynamics, intra- and intergroup conflict and cohesion, leadership, power, norms, interpersonal communication, networks, and roles.

Organization level of analysis
The organization level of analysis covers the topics such as organizational culture, organizational structure, cultural diversity, inter-organizational cooperation and conflict, change, technology, and external environmental forces.

Wood (1997) provides a useful model for exploring behavioral events. He suggests that different levels of analysis can be applied when examining the significance of an organizational issue. He proposes eight, namely:

1. Individual
2. Team
3. Inter-group
4. Organizational
5. Inter-organizational
6. Societal
7. International
8. Global.

The basic issue is that the level of explanation that one chooses, determines the view of the causes of an event or problem. It also affects the actions that one takes, and the solutions that one seeks. In an organization, inappropriate intervention at the wrong level can make a problem worse rather than better.

Three points are important in this regard:

·      People tend to pick their favorite level of analysis to explain events, and then behave accordingly. This is often particularly true of external consultants brought in to perform a “quick fix”.
·      People are most familiar with, and often prefer, explanations at the individual level of behavior. Trying to change people by sending them on a training course is simpler than changing structures or upgrading technology. However, such explanations are often too simplistic, inaccurate, or incomplete. It may not solve organizational problems, nor provide the base for creating self sufficiency and sustenance, particularly in a competitive and volatile market.
·      As a general principle, any organizational problem can be usefully analyzed at an increasingly higher level of abstraction. By considering a problem progressively at the individual, group, inter-group, and organizational levels, a deeper understanding of its causes can be gained.

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