Organizational Behavior Course Notes – Miscellaneous


Class notes from my core MBA Organizational Behavior (OB) course. These focus on some miscellaneous topics.

External vs. Internal Control

  • External Control – Assumes people are unmotivated/lazy. Uses extrinsic rewards (or punishment) to motivate people. Relationships based on position and authority. Typical incentives are financial rewards and “fear tactics”.
  • Internal Control – Assumes people are self-motivated. Uses satisfaction from positive interpersonal relationships to motivate people. Relationships are Key in this “warm/touchy-feely” approach.


Additive Tasks – Tasks which require no interaction between members, but combine the efforts of the group to determine the outcome (ex. tug-of -war).

  • Benefits – Social Facilitation. People tend to perform better when they are competing with others, whether the competition is direct or not. (ex. Running a race on a track with someone, as opposed to running separately and using a clock to determine the winner.)
  • Drawbacks – Potential for ‘Social Loafing’. Additive tasks make it difficult to identify an individual’s contribution. This diffusion of responsibility can lead to lower effort levels from individuals.

Disjunctive Tasks – Tasks which require a group to develop or choose a single “best” answer. The group decision is as good as the best answer/best person.

  • Benefits – The larger the group, the better the odds that someone will suggest the optimal solution.
  • Drawbacks – the person with the best idea might not be able to express it properly, or might not be able to gain group consensus. Also, as with any group decision, there is potential for “group-think”.

Conjunctive Tasks – Tasks which require members to perform their respective roles properly in order for the group to be successful. (ex. An assembly line)

  • Benefits – efficiency
  • Drawbacks – The group is limited by its weakest/worst member of the group.

Compensatory Tasks – Tasks which do not have a single “best’ answer. Typically these are very complex problems.

  • Benefits – A heterogeneous group usually arrives at the right answer, but it takes them a while.
  • Drawbacks – A homogenous group is able to develop a solution quickly, but it is usually the wrong

Factors That Influence People’s Judgments of Others

“When people first meet others they cannot help noticing certain highly visible and distinctive characteristics: sex, race, physical appearance, and the like.”

Several buzzword theories illustrate this:

  1. Implicit Personality Theory
  2. A mental model that holds that various physical attributes, personality traits, attitudes, and behaviors are related. Example: good looks mean brains and friendliness.

  3. Halo Effect
  4. Based on one characteristic (ie: looks or brains) people attribute either all good or all bad traits. The example given was of the panhandling experiment where the “beggar” was dressed in ratty clothes, physically unappealing or was dressed up and looking good.

  5. Fundamental Attribution Error
  6. A tendency to attribute good/bad to a person rather than a situation.

  7. Framing Effect
  8. In the Asch Order test, a person was described as warm or cold and people (strangers) were asked to rank characteristics of that person from 1 to 7 with 7 being “very” and 1 “not at all”. The person described as warm was rated higher on generous, happy, popular, and sociable.

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