Biafra Nigeria World Weblogs


BNW: Biafra Nigeria World Magazine



BNW: Insight, Features, and Analysis

BNW Writer's Block 

BNW News and Archives

 BNW News Archive

BNW: Biafra Nigeria World


BNW Forums and Message Board


Biafra Net

 Igbo Net: The Igbo Network

BNW Africa and AfricaWorld 

BNW: Icon

BNW: Icon


Flag of Biafra Nigeria

BNW News Archives

BNW News Archive 2002-January 2005

BNW News Archive 2005

BNW News Archive 2005 and Later

« Ozodi Osuji Lectures #27: Introduction to Management and Supervision | Main | Ozodi Osuji Lectures #29: Introduction to Labor Relations »

November 09, 2005

Ozodi Osuji Lectures #28: Introduction to Organizational Behavior

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji (Seatle, Washington) --- The field of organizational behavior is also called organizational psychology. Psychology studies how people think and behave. In this case, how people in organizations think and behave.

Let me ask you: how do you behave in groups, be it in informal groups, such as your friends, and formal groups, such as work groups? Do you behave differently when you are alone and when you in crowds? For most people the answer is yes.

As individuals, human beings tend to think about their behaviors and think about what they are going to do. They tend to think about the consequences of their behaviors. They choose carefully what they are going to do. On the other hand, when they are among their friends, in groups, they tend to, more or less, suspend their personal judgments and do what they think that other group members would approve. In fact, in some group instances, if the leader of the group says that a twelve inches long ruler is ten inches long, many of the members of the group would agree with him. Some will know that he is wrong and still feel influenced by the crowd to go along with the leader’s lies; others, in fact, will automatically go with the leader and unreflectively go where he wants them to go, they will agree with his perception.

And we are talking about human behavior in informal groups. In more formal groups, such as work groups, where individual’s livelihood are earned, the pull to go along with the crowd and its leader is even more intense. If you disagree with the opinion leaders of the work group, you could be ostracized and isolated. You could become a marked man, a pariah who is not rewarded with organizational rewards.

Most people know the fact that he who stands apart from the work group is not positively reinforced. To avoid such punishment, people either keep quiet or go along with the group’s direction. (Those with conscience, feel guilty, then go home and try to put their guilty conscience to sleep by getting drunk.)

Group behavior has been studied extensively by social psychologists. Shortly after the Second World War, Adorno et al wrote a book called the Authoritarian Personality. They showed how the authoritarian personality is motivated to please the group and particularly the leaders of groups. To these psychoanalysts, the authoritarian character feels inferior and wants to seem superior and strong and admires the seeming powerful group leader and seeks his approval. He conforms to the group’s norms, even if they are irrational, so that the group members would see him as strong and acceptable.

Other observers were interested in finding out why ordinary Germans, particularly church going ones, obeyed Hitler’s orders and killed those who did nothing offensive to them. These seeming nice Germans killed Six million Jews, twenty five million Russians and altogether were responsible for the death of fifty million human beings. Why did they do it? Are they different from the rest of us? So go find out.

You may sit there and fancy yourself a morally developed human being who would not kill others if told to do so, but is that so?

Stanley Milligram and his group at Stanford University performed social psychological experiments where they had two groups of students do two different jobs. Some were made prisoners and others guards. The guards were encouraged to give electric shocks to the prisoners. You know what? Most of the guards (students) did as they were told to do. In other words, they inflicted pain to those who may, in fact, have been their friends just because authority figures told them to do so.

The implication of this research is that if told to do something by leaders, particularly in group setting, that the average human being is most likely going to do it. Perhaps, a few persons have the courage of their convictions and will resist evil even unto death. Over ninety percent of humanity will do what they were told to do, good or bad, particularly if their peer groups are cheering them on.

In the Southern USA, white kids would jump on an innocent black person and beat him up or even kill him. They usually do so in groups but never as alone individuals. Indeed, they usually do it to alone black persons, but seldom to a group of black persons.

When I was in college, in the 1970s, at night I would be walking down the streets of Eugene, Oregon and a bunch of white boys, usually semi drunk, would drive by and yell at me: Nigger and sped off. But they never did that when I was with other black kids of my age. Nor did individual white kids do that to me. It was always when they were in large enough groups and apparently believed that they could beat a lone black person that these people acted out.

What does this mean to you? It means that human beings tend to act evilly in groups and that they are cowardly and tend to need the company of other persons before they engage in certain evil behaviors. To a black person, it means that if you want to survive in a racist society that you have to walk in the group of other black persons because you would not be attacked by a pack of wild white predators. In a pack you and other black persons would be able to defend yourself.

In this light, on my college campus, a 99% white campus, if a black student sees another black student he gravitates towards him and tries to become his temporary pal. He wants to feel safe in numbers. If he is in the cafeteria and buys his food, he looks around for another black face and brings his tray to that brother’s seat and sits with him. If he walks into one of those large classes, those held in auditoriums of over two hundred students, he looks for a black face and comes to sit with him. Around other blacks, he feels safe. Alone he could be abused by the wild animals he lives with.

Lesson number one is: you should always have friends when you are in enemy territory. When you are surrounded by enemies, you had better watch out for threats to your life, be paranoid, be suspicious, imagine yourself being attacked, real or not, and seek ways to defend yourself. Be tense and uptight and guarded and be ready to defend yourself when you are attacked.

This is the life of the young black American; he is always feeling attacked by white society and defending himself, thus exhibiting social or what is called functional paranoia.

Paranoia saps a lot of the individual’s energy. In paranoia, one is in a state of fear and anxiety and is guarded and defensive. In this state of mind, one is not relaxed and cannot concentrate on abstract thinking. The so-called differences in the races IQ scores is probably explained by the fear, anxiety and paranoia that the predatory white race makes blacks live in.

I have gone off the mark a bit, but I did so rather deliberately. Let me return to the subject at hand, group psychology.

People tend to behave differently in groups than they do when alone. This point has to be known by you. Your co-worker is more likely to side with an unjust boss and agree with him that you did what you did not do and what he knows that you did not do. This is crowd psychology. You are likely to do the same, too.

Organizational behavior studies many aspects of human behavior in groups. In groups, some persons avoid others (shy person do this a lot), others approach others (out going persons do so).

Those who tend to avoid other persons (approach avoidant behavior) tend to be anxious persons. They tend to want other people to like them and fear social rejection. When they anticipate that other people would reject them, they withdraw from them. In social isolation, they avert, or think that they avert social rejection. In social isolation, they think that they retain their positive self concept and its positive self image. Thus, social withdrawal is a maneuver with which the avoidant personality, the shy person, employs to retain his exaggerated big self concept and its big self image. He is trying to maintain a neurotic superior self. In avoiding other people he has separated from them. In separating from other people he retains his separated, ego self. In doing so, he maintains separation from the whole, often called God. In doing so, he keeps himself in this world. In union, on the other hand, one escapes from this world of separated existence.

As George Kelly teaches us, the self concept and its self image are conceptual. It is the individual that uses his biological and social building blocks to construct his self concept and self image and then defends them with the various ego defense mechanisms as if they are real.

Karen Horney tells us that neurotics invent ideal self concepts/self images and defend them with the various ego defense mechanisms, trying to make those false big selves seem real, a losing battle, since the false cannot be real, no matter what one does. Defense makes the ego self-concept seem real. What seems real is not real. The real does not need defense to make it real.

Alfred Adler tells us that the neurotic feels inferior and rejects the inferior self and compensates with a fictional superior self and tries to live “As if” he is the false, superior self. He feels fear and anxiety because he is trying to accomplish the impossible, make a false big self seem real. As Adler sees it, and my experience teaches me, the normal person accepts himself as the same and equal with all people, no matter their rank and status in life. The president of the country is not more important that the beggar on the street. The healthy person simultaneously works for his and for social interests.

There is another self in us that does the conceptualization. There is a conceptualizer in us who conceptualizes the self concept, self image and personality and attempts to become them. As Buddha noted, the conceptualizer is not his self concept.

You are not your self concept; you are not your self image. You are not your thoughts; you are not the ideas, good or bad, that you have about you.

Who then are you? You are the thinker of thoughts, the idealizer of ideas, the conceptualizer of concepts and the observer of the empirical world.

Who is that thinking self? From a scientific perspective, none of us knows who our real self is. Henry Bergson, the French philosopher, said that there is a life force in each of us. In that light, the life force in us is the thinker of our thoughts? Good.

How about if we say that there is a spirit in us who enters our bodies, or seems to have done so, any way, and thinks through the auspices of our physical bodies, particularly our brains?

I know that it is difficult to prove the reality of spirit; nevertheless, there are those who believe that the real self in us is spirit, unified spirit that manifests as separated spirit in the word of illusions. Enough of metaphysics; let us return to ego organizational psychology

There are those who consistently approach other people rather than avoid them. Those who avoid other persons, shy persons, seldom make good candidates for leadership. It is those who approach other people for friendship and are not afraid of social rejection that tends to make good materials for leadership.

In group settings, the leader is most likely to be extroverted and out going, while the led tends to, in different degrees not be as socially outgoing as the leader.

Of course, occasionally, some introspective, reflective introvert overcomes his seeming natural tendency to social withdrawal and becomes out going and competes for leadership positions. But ordinarily, it is the outgoing, self-confident person that tends to compete for leadership on the job: be a supervisor, manager and president of the work organization.

So what is your self assessment: socially withdrawing or socially outgoing? Do you see how your basic lifestyle contribute or hinder your leadership abilities?

It is not all who talk about leadership that can become leaders. In fact, if you make the shy kid a leader, a supervisor on the job, he may panic with anxiety and start drinking to reduce his anxiety. Many a shy person actually turns down promotions to managerial levels, for he does not want to displease other people.

To be a leader one must be assertive and tell other people the truth and not be bothered whether they accept or reject one. If one is preoccupied with others acceptance and fear social rejection, one is not going to be assertive hence is not going to make good managerial material.

(The passive person generally allows other persons to push him or her around. He tends to be a door mat. At some point, however, he gets tired of being pushed around and being taken advantage of, for people tend to take advantage of the seeming weak and explodes in anger. He engages in either passive aggressive behavior or out rightly becomes aggressive. In passive aggression response, he does a thing that would defeat the purpose of the boss he thinks is pushing him around. In pure aggression he acts destructively. He literally goes berserk and amuck and destroys things, even harms people, to show that he is a man and that no person has a right to push him around. The quiet, seemingly harmless man can turn around and kill someone in a fit of rage. The alternative to passive dependency, passive aggressive and aggressive behavior is assertiveness. In assertiveness one simply states the facts as one sees them and does what serves ones and other people’s interests, not in an either/or manner but both. One isn’t afraid of social rejection. In assertiveness, one is fully alive, for one protects ones interests and does not permit others to walk all over one. One is not a pleaser like passive persons. Pleasers seldom serve their interests, beside other people take advantage of pleasers.)

Abraham Maslow, as we noted earlier, talked about the correlation between self acceptance, self actualization and high productivity. Persons who have met their lower order needs tend to be highly productive.

What motivates people to work hard? Is it money, is it the desire for social belonging, and is it desire to do what interests one?

Many organizational psychologists have had their heart’s fill speculating on this subject. I think that real people have mixed motives, certainly, that is the case with me. I work for money. I work to get social belonging. I work to do what I like doing. I work to actualize my real self (and what is that?).

Simply stated, people do what they do for multitude of reasons. It is never only one reason why people do what they do. But just so you know, organizational psychology looks at people’s motivations for working and wants to know what makes them work very hard.

What this means to the manager is that he must understand how to motivate his employees. He must know whether it is money (high salary) that would make them work harder, group belonging, self actualization or other putative motivations?

People are different and what motivates one individual may not be what motivates another. I wake up at 4.30AM to type this lecture. I spend three hours doing so. Then I go to my real work and work for ten hours. So why did I deprive myself of sleep to give this lecture and give it for free? Do I have desire for other people’s attention, desire to seem intelligent and knowledgeable, desire for social recognition, desire for money (what money?), desire to help improve my fellow country men’s knowledge?

What do you think? I think that the answer is all the above. As a typical human being, I think that I am motivated by all that motivates human beings, some noble some base. Eco human, all too human, Nietzsche said.

The average worker is motivated by a complex system of motivations and the manager must learn how to relate to those motivations. If he is Machiavellian, the manager might even manipulate his employees’ motivations.

Suppose that I know that you like recognition and attention. I give it to you. I praise you no end. Your little ego swells up. You feel important and do exactly what I ask you to do. I have exploited your psychopathology. Leaders do exploit the masses psychopathology.

Let us see how this works. Go read Adolf Hitler’s Mien Kampf and Table Talks (edited by that English racist, Oxford scholar, Trevor Roper). Hitler learned from Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology that the average human being feels inferior. The exigencies of living on earth makes human beings feel inadequate and inferior. (Hitler is, of course, talking about himself. He was a neurotic and felt inordinately inferior. He then projected what he saw in him to other people. We all do this; it is called projective identification.)

Hitler reasoned that people feel inferior and compensate with superiority. People want to feel superior. But, in fact, they are not superior to any one. In reality, we are all the same and equal. Nevertheless, we still want to feel superior to our neighbors. So Hitler decided to manipulate that human psychopathology. He said: I am going to tell my people, Germans, that they are superior to their neighbors, Slavs, Jews. Even though they are not superior to any one, because they secretly desire to seem superior to others, they will agree with me and do what I ask them to do because I made them feel superior. I told them a big lie and said it with seeming confidence as if it is true, said it authoritatively they believe it. So Hitler told his people the big lie and they did as he asked them to do, conquer their supposed inferior neighbors.

I was in Biafra during the war. Though a boy, an observant boy, I observed the leaders of Biafra try telling Igbos that they are superior to other Nigerians.

I was born at Lagos and grew up with kids from all over Nigeria. I know that the Igbo kid is exactly like the Yoruba, Edo, Hausa and other Nigerian kids. I know so because I played with them on the streets of Lagos. No one is better than other people. Ojukwu and his inner circle were telling Igbos lies when they tried to make them feel better than other Nigerians.

In the meantime, those lies were bought by many Igbos. They went to war to kill those they thought were inferior Hausa soldiers. To their surprise, the Hausas proved better soldiers than them. That fact ought to teach them not to believe lies. But, alas, human beings are prone to lies.

I still see Igbos wanting to feel better than other Nigerians. I shake my head and wonder when we would all learn that we are all the children of one God, hence one family and learn to love one another. We are all the same and equal and whoever tells you that you are superior or inferior to other people is telling you lies; run from him. Only listen to the person who tells you the truth, who tells you that Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, all people are the same and equal. Love all people if you will feel happy and peaceful.

The point though is that leaders can manipulate the human tendency to believe lies. We all feel inadequate and listen to political demagogues who tell us that our tribe or race is superior to other tribes and or races. Their lies give us the illusion of superiority and power. In reality, no individual person and no tribe or race is better than others. But truth is not sexy, lies are sexy.

Organizations and societies in general deliberately tell their members lie. Consider wars. Before nations go to war they prepare their people to kill their enemies. Suddenly the Chinese becomes China man, gook; the Italian becomes wog, the German becomes Jerry, the black man becomes nigger and the white person becomes honky.

The idea is to put your enemy down, to dehumanize and demonize him, and in doing so you make it easier for your soldiers to kill them and not feel guilty and remorseful.

If you permit your troops to see the enemy soldiers as real human beings and they kill them they are going to have lots of emotional problems. American troops, at some point knew that the Vietnamese were human beings, and innocent too, yet they killed them. They came home to suffer lots of emotional problems (these days we call it PTSD post traumatic stress disorder, a cute psychiatric name; methinks that they are suffering from qualms of conscience).

For our present purposes, human beings have both individual and group psychology. Leaders must have some working knowledge of individual and group psychology. Supervisors and managers, on the job, and politicians must all have some working understanding of human psychology and decide to manipulate it or use it positively to increase productivity.

If I know that you have low self esteem and need some one to give you attention, to accept you, before you feel good about yourself, I will accept you and give you attention. The chances are that you would work hard for me. But in my mind, I am not manipulating your psychoneurosis?

It all has to do with intention, is it not so? Just have good and loving intentions towards all your employees and those you lead and never mind if you are exploiting any one. Who knows what is ultimately good or bad? If in my conscious mind, I believe that I am doing what I am doing out of love, if it turns out that I have unconscious motives that I do not know, so be it.

In the end, the goal of organizational behavior is to understand human and social psychology and use it effectively to generate an efficient and productive workforce.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

November 9, 2005

Posted by Administrator at November 9, 2005 01:51 PM


BNW Writers A-M

BNW Writers N-Z



BiafraNigeria Banner

BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer

BiafraNigeria Spacer


BNW Forums


The Voice of a New Generation