Book Reviews: Organizational Psychology and Behavior

Action Research in Organisations, by Jean McNiff. Routledge.
One of the few available texts that show how action research (an effort to promote personal and professional awareness and development within organizational contexts) can lead to management learning for organizational and professional improvement. This work makes three points: 1) managers can generate their own transformative theories of practice for sustainable organizational development; 2) action research is integrated within organizational contexts; and 3) people are able to claim that they have improved their workplace by presenting research-based evidence to show how they developed their own practice using action research. A very thoughtful, scholarly, and highly in-depth work. Strongly recommended for those studying management and organization and seeking an intensive discussion of action research. 331 pp. 2001.

The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business, by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck. Harvard Business School Press.
The authors provide a new, important perspective: with so much information, activities, and people vying for attention, the management of attention has become critical to business. Attention involves understanding how to work within an overabundance of information competition. Attention is defined as focused mental engagement on a particular item. The authors employ a model that leads from awareness through a narrowing phase to attention and through a decision phase to action. To maximize effective attention is the goal. Chapters concern the relationship of attention with: strategy (strategy can be understood as a pattern of organizational attention), leadership, organizational structure; and managing information and knowledge. Beyond organization, the book broadens its scope and concerns attention and technology, markets and the economy. This is a really thought-provoking work, filled with insights on a subject long neglected and of increasing importance. Very highly recommended. 259 pp. 2001.

Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox, by Gigerenzer Gerd and Reinhard Selten, MIT Press.
Applicable to people in business faced with limited time, facts and resources, this is a collection of insightful, in-depth essays that promote an approach to decision-making. It offers a set of fast and frugal rules for decision making for people in real-world contexts. The book shows how smart heuristics„rules of thumb„can exploit situations. It gives a framework in terms of the metaphor of the adaptive toolbox, provides an understanding about how and when simple heuristics work, extends the idea of bounded rationality from cognitive tools to emotions, and extends the notion to include social norms, imitation, and cultural tools. A scholarly work with considerable complexity, but very rich in content. Recommended. 377 pp. 2001.

Companies are People, Too: Discover, Develop & Grow Your Organization's True Personality, by Sandra Fekete and LeeAnna Keith, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The aim is to understanding the core personality of the organization. The core of the book is an 84-item questionnaire with a score sheet; the instrument has been validated. The authors discuss four types of companies and a diversity of styles, and cover a range of organizational profiles and related issues plus numerous applications. Informative, absorbing, applied and well written. 254 pp. 2003.

Creating the Congruent Workplace: Challenges for People and Their Organizations, by Lloyd C. Williams. Quorum Books.
The author, an organizational psychologist, consultant, and professor, states that the challenge in this book is to explore a concept of congruence relating to effective organizational and managerial performance. It is a book about organization, business options and strategies, and innovation, but the overarching theme is congruence. Williams points out that people spend 78% of their lives within organizations and this reality makes clear the need for a sound conceptual base for the integration of people and systems. This book focuses on a body of knowledge that balances and requires the bringing together of many disciplines to create a theory of congruence and transformation (of both organization and the individual). It is a treasure trove of knowledge and insights, bound to inform, stimulate, and delight anyone who seeks a multidimensional understand human organization. Open to any page and you are likely to become absorbed in the rich content that Williams presents. The book is deep and rich with substance. It is sure to appeal to those of who are always hunting for those hard-to-find books that go below the surface of facile bullet-points or 'how-to' steps, with little or no mention or concern for the 'why's' or context. This book is packed with first-rate thinking, cover-to-cover. Very highly recommended. 207 pp. 2002

Distributed Work, by Pamela J. Hinds and Sara Kiesler, Eds. MIT Press.
This book is a compendium of essays and research reports representing a variety of fields and methods intended for those who seek to understand the nature of distributed work groups and organizations, the challenges inherent in distributed work, and the ways of enabling and organizing more efficient distributed work. Chapters cover the history of distributed work and such topics as: communication, social contract, managing distances and differences, implications of technology to support remote collaborative work, conflict, computer-mediated groups, team with fuzzy boundaries, Intranet knowledge sharing, and more. This is an enormous and very rich collection of thinking and empirical research findings on the subject. Highly recommended. 475 pp. 2002.

Driven: How Human Nature Shapes our Chooices, by Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria. Jossey-Bass
Explores the biological drives that explain our choices and behavior. Bridging the gap between evolutionary biology and the social sciences, this extraordinary interdisciplinary work shows that our actions are a consequence of a continuous struggle between four innate, subconscious, brain-based drives. These are the drive to: acquire objects and experiences; bond with others in long-term relationships of mutual care and commitment; learn and make sense of the world and of ourselves; and to defend ourselves, our loved ones, beliefs and resources from harm. A very interesting chapter applies this concept to work and organization. The authors present a model to explain human behavior and reveal a common heritage of all humans. The authors suggest that if we attempt to balance our four drives, we will progress forward to the next stage of human evolution. This is a rich and insightful work. Very highly recommended. 315 pp. 2001.

Emotional Intelligence at Work: A Professional Guide, by Dalip Singh, Response Books (Sage Publications, Inc.
The book begins with a discussion of emotional intelligence (EI) or quotient (EQ) and emotional competencies and the relationship between EI and personality. It explores applying EI in organizations, including training. Singh discusses learning how to recognize and manage emotions. A chapter is devoted to dealing with anger. The book concludes with a self-administered emotional intelligence test, with a guide for scoring. Informative and useful. Recommended. 198 pp. 2001.

The Emotional Intelligent Workplace: How to Select for, Measure, and Improve Emotional Intelligence in Individuals, Groups, and Organizations, Cary Cherniss and Daniel Goleman, Daniel, eds., Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a set of social and emotional abilities that help individuals cope with daily demands of life. This book begins with a model of EI and organizational effectiveness. Its chapters discuss a broad range of topics that flesh out the different parts of the model. Contributions extend EI from the individual to the group and organizational levels. The three sections of the book cover: an examination of the concept, exploring issues related to its definition and measurement; discussion of human resource applications including how HR can use EI to improve hiring, training, development, and performance management; how training and development can be used to foster EI at all levels. The final chapter profiles how a company developed a training program in emotional competence, and provides guidelines for implementing EI programs. Highly recommended. 352 pp. 2001

Emotions in the Workplace: Understanding the Structure and Role of Emotions in Organizational Behavior, by Robert G. Lord, Richard J. Klimoski and Ruth Kanfer, Eds. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Contributors discuss: the theoretical and methodological bases necessary to understand how emotions have an impact on work; explore how people learn and exhibit norms for feeling and displaying emotions; and examine processes that regulate affect in groups and organization. Chapters also consider several applied problems in which emotions are often pivotal in understanding behavior regarding such topics as: violence, customer service, courageous work behavior, work-family interactions, recruitment and socialization practices, and cross-cultural issues. The book concludes with two chapters that develop models that integrate emotions, cognitions, and motivation. The book, one of a series of publications by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, is filled with in-depth thinking of many distinguished contributors. 516 pp. 2002.

The End of Office Politics as Usual: A Complete Strategy for Creating a More Productive and Profitable Organization, by Lawrence B. MacGregor Serven. AMACOM.
Based on extensive research, the author presents a book that covers both the soft side (values) and the hard side (operations) of what he terms "the enemy within." The book provides an approach to minimizing and rising above dysfunctional politics, describing how Intel, Sprint and Microsoft have achieved this end. The book's second half describes how to revise systems and processes that govern workplace dynamics and mitigate politics, such as goal-setting, performance reviews and resource allocation. The closing chapter offers eight fast fixes (teach all employees the basics of how the business works, use open book management, conflict resolution, do spot audits of compliance with HR polices, etc.). Provides practical ideas. Recommended. 215 pp. 2002.

Enlightened Office Politics: Understanding, Coping with, and Winning the Game--Without Losing Your Soul, by Michael S. Dobson and Deborah S. Dobson, AMACOM.
In contrast to Machiavallian tactics, this book focuses on ethical and positive reasons. The aim is achieving one's personal goals on the job and getting credit for achievements. Shows how to plan and execute an effective political campaign to achieve objectives, and choose tactics that coincide with personal values. The book is detailed and provides many ideas and insights. It includes a number of self-assessment inventories including Assessment of Your Political IQ (p. 41). This is a comprehensive how-to volume with case studies, models, and diagrams. Recommended. 316 pp. 2001.

Evolve!: Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow, by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Harvard Business School Press.
Using extensive research, Kanter explores the e-culture created by the Internet; a way of working which defines the human side of the New Economy. E-culture features are: constant change; mistakes are visible and magnified; the focus is on what's next; communications are fast, cryptic and lack subtleties; cooperation is primary despite competition; strategies reflect improvisation; decentralization and integration are blended; fun and unique rewards are used to lure talent. The book is loaded with case studies showing that people are the key to success. Lessons about effectiveness are drawn from firms at all stages of Net change. The book describes best practices, role models, and how life is lived and work gets done in leading companies, as well as cautionary tales. It also shows that leadership and organizational challenges are not different in the e-world. Fascinating journey into the E-world. E-xcellent! 352 pp. 2001.

From Conflict to Creativity: How Resolving Workplace Disagreements Can Inspire Innovation and Productivity, by Sy Landau, Sy, Barbara Landau, and Daryl Landau, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Part one of this book examines conflict and presents a model for resolving disputes creatively. Part two shows how organizations can use a similar approach to foster creativity, even when no overt conflict exists. Recommended. Discusses factors that thwart creativity and explores the linkage between creativity and conflict, revealing how to overcome this predicament. Provides some unique insights. Recommended. 185 pp. 2001.

Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Company and Your Life, by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Examines the value and power of vision in both organization and at the individual level. A key theme is that it is not enough to create a shared vision-it must be made viable and guide day-to-day life. The book is about how to make visioning a journey. Through an inspirational story, the authors' present a clear and compelling case for the central role of vision; how it's created, communicated and lived. 171 pp. 2003.

How Professionals Make Decisions, by Henry Montgomery, Raanan Lipshitz, and Berndt Brehmer. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
A collection of theoretical and empirically-based essays on decision making at the individual and social levels, and essays on advances in naturalistic decision-making. 423 pp. 2005.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Research and Practice, by Paul E. Spector. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Discusses the different research-based methods practicing I / O psychologists use to help organizations address issues concerning employees, as well as major research findings and theories. Covers: current trends shaping I/O psychology; research methods; job analysis; performance appraisal; assessment methods for selection and placement; selecting employees; training; theories of motivation; job satisfaction and organizational commitment; productive and counterproductive employee behavior; occupational health psychology; work groups and teams; leadership and power; and organizational development and theory. Emphasis is placed on the role of technology, internationalization, skilled labor shortages, and occupational health psychology. There is also a textbook Internet support site which includes Internet exercises, links, and practice exams for each chapter. Numerous cases and references. An instructors manual and testbank is available at the website. This is a comprehensive, well organized, and up-to-date text. Highly recommended. 400 pp. 2003.

The Infinite Organization: Celebrating the Positive Use of Power in Organizations, by Michael F. Broom. Davies-Black Publishing.
Broom starts with an examination of personal and organizational powerÑthen lays the groundwork for the transition from personal to organizational power by presenting the basic techniques to build personal power and interpersonal influence. The author presents six key principles of infinite power (focus energy on our goals; think systematically; learn from differences; operate only on sound, current data; empower ourselves and others to resolve problems and release potential; and develop and use a diverse support system) and six channels of interpersonal influence (position, coercion, reward, expertise, attraction, group affiliation) to synergize personal and organizational power. Topics covered include: creating powerful teams, conflict management, leadership, structures and policies, and much more. A very useful, insightful, and important book. 161 pp. 2002.

In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work, by Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak, Harvard Business School Press.
According to the authors, social capital consists of the totality of connections among people involving trust, mutual understanding, and shared values and behaviors. These bind the human networks and communities of an organization, enabling cooperation and teamwork. The book examines what social capital is, how it works in organizations, how investments are made in it, the returns from such investments to organizations and individuals. A penetrating investigation into an engrossing phenomenon! 214 pp. 2001.

Managing Behavior in Organizations (3rd Edition), by Ronald R. Sims. Quorum Books / Praeger Publishers.
Provides a comprehensive, in-depth exploration of organization. Topics covered include: the foundations of individual behavior; motivation; performance appraisal; communication; groups and teams; individual and group decision making; leadership; conflict and negotiation; and organization design; organizational culture. Sims also discusses various organization change issues and techniques and concludes the books with a look at the changing roles and responsibilities for career development and management. This book is a terrific introduction to organizational behavior, that delves into a very broad range of subjects. Very highly recommended. 390 pp. 2002.

Managing Emotions in the Workplace, by Neal M. Ashkanasy, Wilfred J. Zerbe and Charmine E. J. Hartel, Eds. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., Publisher.
In-depth essays covering such topics as: employees' responses to downsizing; understanding the emotional aspects of organizational change; the role of emotions in conflict situations in culturally mixed groups; a model of emotional and motivational components of interpersonal interactions in organization; managing emotions in the workplace; the role of emotions in intuitive decision making; and emotional labor (when employees are required to display particular emotional states as a part of their job). This is a thoughtful, scholarly collection. 358 pp. 2002.

No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and Its Hidden Costs, by Andrew Ross. BasicBooks (HarperCollins).
The New Economy brought with it a new type of knowledge workplace, particularly in high-technology. The people-oriented culture and policies of these entrepreneurial firms hide an underside that Ross chronicles, as the dot-com bubble of the 90's burst. This book provides insights into a world that is unique but also carries forward many fundamental themes and issues from the first mass workplacesÐwhite-collar corporations. The author's laboratory is Razorfish, a bleeding-edge Web design shop which sprung from a start-up in 1995 to a global consulting firm, with offices around the world. The book is a fascinating tour de force of world only some have experienced first hand. For anyone trying to understanding the today's world of work and what the future may be like, this is one terrific book. 296 pp. 2002.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Its Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences, by Dennis W. Organ, Philip M. Podsakoff, and Scott B. Mackenzie. Sage Publications, Inc.
Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is discretionary and promotes efficient and effective functioning of the organization. This prosocial behavior is usually directed at an individual (usually a stranger) with no apparent extrinsic reward. The book explores OCB, connects it with organization theory, considers what managers can do to encourage and sustain it, examines how it is recognized and assessed by the organization, and how it relates to overall organizational performance. The book's content places emphasis on research findings. This is a highly informative work about a subject of great importance to organizational leadership and human resource management (HRM). It deserves the attention of people who manage people, HRM and organization development practitioners, as well as all who are interested in organizational psychology. 330 pp. 2005.

Organizational DNA: Diagnosing Your Organization for Increased Effectiveness, by Linda Honold and Robert J. Silverman. Davies-Black Publishing.
Profiles four organizational types (fact-based, idea-grounded, context-related, and individual-oriented) and shows how each type leads to variations in the same organizational practices. The authors go on to examine the consequences of appropriate and inappropriate alignments of organizational practices. The discussion covers methods for attaining alignment, leadership and management issues, plus a diagnostic tool to help categorize an organization's type. Four cases are discussed in some detail. A novel and intriguing approach to the study of organization and approach to change. 148 pp. 2003.

Organizational Influence Processes, by Lyman W. Porter, Harold L Angle and Robert W. Allen. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., Publisher.
This book is a rich, scholarly collection of contributions about the many varieties of social influence attempts that take place when individuals and groups come together in organization. The thrust of the book is to probe the dynamics of formal and informal influence directed downward, laterally and upward. Topics encompass: use of power, influence with and without authority, self-management, impression management, leadership, alliances, politics, and many more. An outstanding book for anyone with a deep interest in interpersonal dynamics in organization. 554 pp. 2003.

Organizational Psychology: A Scientist Practitioner Approach., by Steve M. Jex. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Key topics covered in this graduate-level text are: historical influences in organizational psychology; context; research methods and statistics; attraction (recruitment) and socialization; productive behavior in organizations; job satisfaction and commitment; counterproductive behavior; occupational stress; theories of motivation; organizational applications of motivational theory; leadership and influence processes; group behavior and effectiveness; intergroup behavior; organizational theory and design; organizational culture; and organizational change and development. Throughout the book are the author's comments boxes that explore chapter material in depth, relate it to current event, connect it to other topics, and in general, enrich content. The writing is lucid and very accessible. An excellent introduction to the field. Extensive references. No glossary. Highly recommended. 540 pp. 2002.

Organisations in Action: Competition Between Contexts, by Peter A. Clark. Routledge.
An examination of organizations from both a postmodern and new organizational economics perspective. Combining strategy, international business and organizational theory, the book critiques prevailing mainstream modernist theories of organization.The subtitle means that organizations succeed or fail in large part due to the configuration of market features and other aspects of the environment; e.g., Henry Ford's Model T would have failed in England. The book is concerned with understanding, describing, explaining, designing and critically viewing organizations. Some core issues covered are: knowledge and reality; intra-organizational and Americanized background; national characteristics and markets; comparative studies between nationals; creative destruction; and time-space compression. Extremely rich in theoretical and research content. Highest intellectual quality. 354 pp. 2001.

Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes, by James L Gibson.John M. Ivancevich and James H. Donnelly.Jr.
An outstanding text covering: individual behavior; motivation; rewards; culture; globalization; group and team behavior; intergroup behavior, negotiation, and team-building; power and politics; leadership; organization structure; job design; designing organizations; communication; decision making; organizational change; and organizational development. An appendix addresses procedures and techniques for studying organizations. Includes a glossary; experiential exercises; discussion and review questions; and sidebar discussions of topics of special interest, linking the text to real-world cases. Numerous examples are given. Provides a wealth of websites and other sources of knowledge for further learning. Excellent graphics, use of tables, and figures. Supplements: instructor's manual; lecture resource manual; test bank; and visual presentation software. Overall, a top-notch text. 521 pp. 2002.

The People Measurement Manual: Measuring Attitudes, Behaviours and Beliefs in Your Organization, by David Wealleans, Ashgate Publishing Company (Gower).
Based on the assertion that it is as important to people as business processes and financial performance, this book examines the process of measurement, how to select the best methodology (surveys, interviews, continuous measurement technique), and specific tools and techniques that can be used. It is an enormously informative and in-depth work, filled with rigorous presentation of ideas, specifics, figures, tables and tips. Very highly recommended. 147 pp. 2003.

Personality and Work: Reconsidering the Role of Personality in Organizations, by Murray R. Barrick and Ann Marie Ryan, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
This is a collection of research-based and conceptual essays relating to personality and: personality attributes, motivation, job performance, person-organization fit, counterproductive workplace behaviors, teams, social networks, and learning. Excellent. 365 pp. 2003.

Positive Organizational Scholarship, by Kim S. Cameron, Jane E. Dutton and Robert E. Quinn, eds., Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Positive organizational scholarship (POS) is a new perspective on organizational phenomena such as networking, social capital, motivation, resilience, learning, and problem solving. POS advocates that the desire to improve the human condition is universal and the capacity to do so exists within most organizations. POS puts special emphasis on life-giving, ennobling, generative conditions such as compassion, in addition to typical positives e.g., efficiency and effectiveness, team-work, goal-achievement, and profitability. The book is a collection of scholarly essays that include a summary of research and ideas and collectively provide a framework for understanding POS as a new field of study in the organizational sciences. Wonderfully mind-expanding, rich with thoughtful, intriguing ideas and insights. 510 pp. 2003.

Psychology of Practice: Organisations, by Hugh Coolican, Oxford University Press, Inc. (Hodder & Stoughton).
This introduction to the application of psychology covers: selection of people; human resource practices; group behavior; interpersonal communications systems; leadership and management; motivation to work; quality of working life; and organizational work conditions. The quality of the writing, organization, and treatment of each subject is first-rate. Each chapter ends with key terms, exercises, essay questions, recommended reading, and a few helpful websites. 143 pp. 2003.

Researching Organizational Values and Beliefs: The Echo Approach, by J. Barton Cunningham. Quorum Books (Greenwod Publishing Group).
This book presents a method for understanding group and organizational culture issues. It is a way of observing, quantifying, and describing what people value and believe, and the patterns of value and influence that characterize and shape organizational behavior. Understanding these patterns enables better communication with people and effective organizational change. The Echo approach encourages the use of open- and closed-ended questions about values. It includes asking organizational members what they do and do not approve of, like, or agree with. This exploratory questioning is used for developing instruments to describe events, issues, and problems, using the language of the organization. The underlying assumption is that understanding the values and beliefs of people is key to solving organizational problems. Highly recommended. 230 pp. 2001

A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership For the Long-Term Success of Your Business, by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham.
A Currency Book, Doubleday, Division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
Jack Stack is CEO of an employee-owned company and this book draws heavily from his experiences in leading his, and other companies with a similar culture, through thick and thin. In a prior book, The Great Game of Business, Stack and Burlingham introduced the idea of open book management. Now they provide insights and specific ideas about how to foster a sense of ownership at every level. They cover a variety of methods, including stock ownership, learning, diversity, inclusiveness, and participation. They show how companies can create mechanisms that give people the tools they need to realize the rewards and responsibilities that ownership provides, and that keep them focused on building the business. The book includes 14 rules of ownership. Enlightening and interesting. 288 pp. 2002.

Transforming Work: The Five Keys to Achieving Trust, Commitment, and Passion in the Workplace, by Patricia E. Boverie and Michael Kroth. Perseus Books.
Describes the authors' research and links they have found between motivation, work, and learning. The purpose of the book is to give individuals and organizations specific processes to create passionate work environments. In-depth discussion examines the nature of a passionate work environment and how to achieve it. Includes numerous exercises. Good insights. Recommended. 221 pp. 2001.

Weaving Complexity & Business, by Roger Lewin and Birute Rigine, Texere.
Shows how business leaders who embrace the principals of complexity science, with its focus on a complex adaptive system view of organization, are developing highly innovative and adaptable organizations that are more likely to be successful and examines the implications for the behavior of people in these organizations. The authors show that to engage the soul at work, leaders must pay as much attention to how people are treated as they do to strategy and operations; people must be seen as individuals„not employees. The importance of nonlinear thinking and the quality of interpersonal relationships are key themes. A broad range of other topics is discussed, such as organizational change and emergent teams. Absorbing and insightful; Highly recommended. 340 pp. 2001.

Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Success , by Art Kleiner. A Currency Book, Doubleday, Division of Random House.
For anyone who wants to understand organizational behavior, this book is essential reading. Kleiner claims that organizations seek to fulfill the aims of their Core Group (the people who really matter; the heart of the organization) and that all else is secondary to satisfying the Core Group (CG). According to Kleiner, every organization has a CG and, to understand the organization's actions, one must understand its CG.. The book delves into the nature of the CG, how the CG drives decisions and actions, and the dos and don'ts of achieving organizational change in light of the CG. Closing chapters cover noble purpose, what makes a great CG great, and the governance structure of democracies at all levels. A powerful, insightful work. Must reading! 277 pp. 2003.