Organizational behavior is the study of how employees act within an organization and how the employees and the organization interact. Educational institutions such as colleges and universities that specialize in business are most likely to offer organizational behavior programs. Such programs include undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, doctorates and certificates in organizational behavior. Each degree or certificate program might focus on specific subsets of organizational behavior theory, including globalization and diversity, motivational theory, performance management, group dynamics, leadership and change management.
Some organizational behavior programs involve the study of the impact of globalization on businesses and employees. The growth of companies that span international borders has led to multicultural workforces. Diversity studies teach students how to work within a multicultural workforce. Classes in the behavior of global organizations help students understand how companies function in the international business environment.
Motivational theory is another subject that is explored by students in organizational behavior programs. Students of motivational theory learn about the different ways that organizations can motivate employees. Elements of motivational theory include job satisfaction, employee performance, organizational support, intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. Several distinct motivational theory ideologies exist, so students of this program might learn about scientific management, job enrichment, the job characteristics model and social information processing.
Performance management centers on goal setting and employee evaluation. These activities are a vital part of business theory and are a core element of most organizational behavior programs. In these programs, students might learn how to set goals for employees based on a combination of the employees' abilities and the organization’s objectives. Employee evaluation programs focus on teaching students the different systems that are used to evaluate employees and how to administer objective performance appraisals.
By definition, groups are collections of two or more people who work together to achieve common objectives, so all organizational behavior programs are actually studies in group dynamics. Some programs, however, focus specifically on how employees interact within work teams and how work teams interact with other organizational elements. Group dynamic programs might focus on how groups form, choose leaders and progress to become effective teams.
Some organizational behavior programs are designed to prepare students to become organizational leaders. Leadership programs teach students leadership skills, how organizations and leaders interact and theories about leadership traits. General organizational leadership traits include energy, ambition, caring, trustworthiness and the ability to empower others. Organizational leadership programs might emphasize historical business leaders and difficult leadership situations such as change management, mergers and new business launches.