Book Review:
Organisational Behaviour, (3rd Ed.)
Authors: Robbins, S., Millet, B., Cacioppe, R., & Waters-Marsh, T.

Robbins, S., Millet, B., Cacioppe, R., & Waters-Marsh, T. (2001). Organisational Behaviour, (3rd Ed.). Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Reviewed by: Steven Lee

The book, Organisational Behaviour is interesting and is easy to read and understand, especially for its intended market of students and beginners interested in organisational behaviour. Illustrations and graphs throughout the text are clear and easy to interpret. These help the readers grasp the dynamics of the topics much faster. Each chapter outlines what it sets out to achieve - why, how, what of theories, examples to illustrate the theories followed by explanations. Case studies and exercises help to reinforce the knowledge learnt.

Chapter 1 provides an explanation of the importance of organisational behaviour and its impact on individuals and groups. The following 5 chapters enable the reader to understand individual behaviour through issues associated with work attitudes, employee satisfaction, job involvement and empowerment, all of which help make jobs more meaningful. Other issues covered in these chapters include employee commitment, personality and learning, concepts of motivation and related matters. The role of the individual within the organisation is strongly emphasised. This, however, does not diminish the importance of group dynamics.

Chapter 7 provides the reader with a good foundation of the concept of Group Behaviour, the different types of groups, their roles and how these affect behaviour. With background knowledge, organisations will be able to capitalise on the effectiveness of teams and teamwork to make their organisations better and more efficient. Chapter 8 outlines the various types of teams and how teamwork can help to build a cohesive and well-oiled workforce. The authors take the trouble to explain the very basics of team effectiveness through the understanding of work design and the composition of team members. This is then discussed in the context of how resources, effective leadership and team contributions resulting from sound performance evaluation and reward system and process variables affect teamwork. This chapter concludes with an example of the importance of self-managed teams in a bank. Chapter 9 discusses communication, its functions, processes and fundamentals. The attention of the readers is drawn to the problems or barriers of effective communication as well as potential problems arising from cultural differences. The issue between leaders and leadership is then discussed. An interesting aspect of this chapter is the pros and cons of leadership training. Leadership training can cost an organisation billions of dollars yet there is no clear evidence that leadership training has led managers to make fewer mistakes. In fact, it was highlighted that they had failed miserably to make significant changes to improve their organisations. The various ‘fads’ which they tried to implement such as quality management, ‘principle-centred leadership’, business re-engineering, investment in excellence, empowerment, and self-managing teams, came to nought simply because they did not fully understand what was right for their organisations, or that the wrong people were sent to do the training. Chapters 13 to 18 focus on the perspectives and future trends of organisations. A number of case studies are provided to illustrate the concepts raised. A simple illustration of organisations viewed as a machine, as organisms, as brains, as political systems and as virtual organisations provides a different perspective to the readers and helps to simplify the explanation.

By providing readers with the understanding of organisations as a whole, of their past and present, companies would be able to plan for the future by skilfully managing change. Another interesting feature is the creation of a learning organisation which is fundamental for survival in today’s environment. The areas of organisational culture, organisational structure, work design and technology, HR policies and practices and organisational change and development conclude the text. Issues that are discussed within the text offer the reader immensely useful information that is applicable in the everyday working environment. It should assist managers and supervisors to become effective in their jobs through the understanding of how human behaviour works. A number of aids assist the student to better understand the topic areas discussed.

To conclude, this book is very comprehensive and educational for both students and working people, especially those in managerial positions. It provides readers with a basic understanding of organisational behaviour and how management can benefit from this understanding. I would recommend this book as a ‘must read’ book for students in Human Resource Management, and for working people who are already managers or aspire to be managers.

Steven Lee
Singapore Human Resources Institute