4. SOCIAL SYSTEMS & ORGANIZATIONAL
Understanding Social System
Social System – is a complex set of business
relationships interacting in many ways.
When people join a work group they become part
of that organization’s social system. It is the medium by
which they relate to the world of work. The variables in
an organizational system operate in a degree of working
balance called social equilibrium.
A system is said to be in social equilibrium when there is a
dynamic working balance among the interdependent parts.
Equilibrium is the dynamic concept not a static. There is constant
movement in every organization, but it occurs in such a way that the
system’s working balanced is retain. The system is like a sea in
which there is a continuous motion, but the seas’ basic character
changes very little.
When minor changes occur in a social system, they are
absorbed by adjustments within the system and equilibrium is
retained. But when major changes or a series of rapid change may
throw an organization out of balance, seriously reducing its vigor
until it can reach a new equilibrium. When it is in disequilibrium,
its parts are working against one another instead of harmony.
Functional and Dysfunctional Actions
We can say that a change in the organization is considered
functional when it is favorable for the system. When every body
agrees on the changes made. When a change is unfavorable for a
system, it is said to be dysfunctional. A major management task is to
appraise changes in the social system to determine their possible
functional or dysfunctional effects, so that appropriate responses can
Psychological and Economic Contract
When employees join an organization they make an unwritten
psychological contract with it. Psychological contract – define the
conditions of each employees’ psychological involvement with the
system. Employees agree to give a certain amount of work and loyalty
but in return they demand more than economic reward from the
system. They seek security, treatment as human beings, rewarding
relationship with people, and support in fulfilling expectations.
a) If expectations are met:
High job satisfaction
b) If expectations are not met
● Low job satisfaction
a) If expectations are met:
b) If expectations are not met
● Corrective action
If the organization honors only the economic contract and
not the psychological contract, employees tend to have low job
satisfaction and performance because their expectations are not
met. If both their psychological and economic expectations are
met, they tend to be satisfied, stay with the organization and
become high performer.
Management responds in a similar way to the economic and
psychological contracts that it sees. It expects responses such as
high performance continuum quality improvement, commitment to
the organization, and friendly services to the customers. When
these results occur, an employee is retained and may earn a
promotion. However, if cooperation and performance do not meet
expectations, our reactive action and even termination may occur.
Whenever people act in accordance with the expectation of
others, their behavior is social. Culture is the conventional
behavior of a society, and it influence all the actions even though it
seldom enter the conscious thought.
Social culture are often portrayed as consistent within a
nation, thereby producing a so-called national culture. At the
simplest level, national cultures can be compared on the bases on
how their members relate to each other accomplish work, and
respond to change. However, there can be distinctive social culture
within a nations, as well as, seen in the tragic dispute between
people of various ancestry within the former country of
People learn to depend on their culture. It gives them stability
and security, because they can understand what is happening in their
cultural community and know how to respond while in it. However, the
one culture dependency may also place intellectual blinders on
employees, preventing them from gaining the benefits of exposure to
people from other cultural background. Cultural dependency is further
compounded under conditions involving the integration of two or more
culture into the workplace. Employees need to learn to adopt to other to
capitalize on the opportunities the present, while avoiding possible
Employees in almost organization are divided into subgroup of
various kinds. Formation of group is determine by two broad sets of
conditions. First, job related (organizationally created) differences and
similarities, such as type of work, rank in the organization, and physical
proximity to one another, sometimes,, cause people to align themselves
into group. However, a second set of non-job related conditions (those
related to culture, ethnicity, socioeconomics, sex, and race) primarily
from and individual’s personal background; these conditions are highly
important for legal, moral and economic reasons.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) An early attempt to deal
with cultural diversity at work and fair treatment for employees are
through federal and states legislation. Equal Employment Opportunity
is the provision of equal opportunities to secure jobs and earn rewards in
them, regardless of conditions unrelated to job performance.
EEQ laws prohibit discrimination on factors other than job
performance. In response, many organizations voluntarily developed
affirmative action plans, in which they adopted nondiscrimination
policies, reviewed their personnel practices and monitored their programs.
Affirmative action programs, designed to
opportunities for qualified peo0le, hae three major goals:
* To provide redress for past (societal) discrimination.
* To correct current discrimination.
* To pursue greater diversity as a valuable objectives.
Potential Benefits of EEQ
Equal citizens access to jobs
Reinforcement of social objectives
Better use of labor force
Higher family earnings
Higher national output
Better self-image for citizens
Most useful contributors to society
Social Culture Values
The Work Ethic. For many years the culture of much of the
western world has emphasized work as a desirable and fulfilling activity.
This attitude is also strong in parts of Asia, such as Japan. The result of
the cultural emphasis is a work ethic for many people, meaning that they
view work as the very important and as a desirable goal in life. They tend
to like work and derive satisfaction from it. They usually have a stronger
commitment to the organization and to its goal than do other employees.
This characteristics of the work ethic make it highly appealing to
The research indicates that two conditions can be safely reached.
First, the proportion of employees with a strong work ethic varies sharply
among sample groups. Differences depends on factors such as personal
background, type of work performed, and geographical location. The
range is quite broad, with the proportion of employees in different jobs
who report that work is a central life interest extending from 15 to 85
A second condition is that the general level of the work
ethic has declined gradually over many decades. Not only the
younger employees not as supportive of the work ethic, but the
level of support that young people once exhibited has dropped
This decline carriers serious application for
industrial productivity, specially international competition
Social Responsibility. Every action that organizations take
involves costs as well as benefits. In recent years, there has been a
strong social drive to improve the cost benefit relationship to make
it possible for society to gain benefits from organizations and for
the benefits to be fairly distributed. Social responsibility is the
recognition that organizations have significant influence on the
social system and tht this influence must be properly considered
and balanced in all organizational actions.
The present of strong social values such as social
responsibility has a powerful impact on organizations and their
actions. It leads them to use a socioeconomic model of decision
making, in which both social costs and benefits are considered
along with the traditional economic and technical values/
Organizations take a broader view of their role within a social
system, and accept their interdependence with it.
A role is a pattern of actions expected of a person in
activities involving others/ Role reflects a person’s position in the
social system, with its accompanying rights and obligations, power
and responsibility. In order to be able to interact with one
another, people need some way of anticipating others’ behavior.
Role performs this function in the social system.
A person has roles both on the job and away from it. One
person performs the occupational role of worker, the family role of
parent, the social role of club president, and many others. In those
various roles, a person is both buyer and seller, supervisor and
subordinate, and giver and seeker of advice. Each role calls for
different types of behavior. Within the work environment alone, a
worker may have more than one role.
Activities of managers and workers alike are guided by their
role perception, that is, how they think, they are supposed t act in
their own roles and how others should act in their roles. Since
managers perform many different roles, they must be highly
adoptive (exhibiting role flexibility) in order to change from one
role to another quickly. Supervisors especially need to change roles
rapidly as they work with subordinates and superiors and with
technical and non-technical activities.
When two people, such as a manager and an
employee, interact, each one needs to understand at least three role
perceptions. For a manager, the three roles are as follows: First, there
is the manager’s role perception as required by the job being perform
(A). Then there is the manager’s perception of the role of the
employee being contacted (B). Finally, there is the manager’s
perception of his or her role as likely to be seen by the employee (C).
Obviously, one cannot meet the needs of others unless one can
perceive what they expect. Three related role perceptions (D, E, and
F) exist from the employee’s perspective, with dramatic differences
(from the manager’s perception) possible – especially in the direct
comparisons such as A-D, B-E, and C-D. The key is for both parties
to gain accurate role perceptions for their own roles and for the roles
of the other. Reaching such ab understanding requires studying the
available job descriptions, as well as opening up lines of
communication to discover the other’s perceptions. Unless roles are
clarified and agreed upon by both parties, conflicts will inevitably
The Complex Web of Manager-Employee Role Perceptions
of own role
of manager’s role
of employee’s role
of own role
of the manager’s role
as seen by the employees
of the employee’s role
as seen by the manager
Where can employees get information regarding their work related roles
so that they will have accurate role perceptions? In addition to traditional sources
of information, such as job descriptions and orientation sessions, many
organizations have formal or informal mentorship program A mentor is a role
model who guides another employee (a protégé) by sharing valuable advice on
teach, advice, coach, support, encourage, act as sounding boards, and sponsor
their protégés so as to expedite their career progress. The advantages of
successful mentoring programs include stronger employee loyalty, faster
movement up the learning curve, better succession planning through
development of replacements, and increase level of goal accomplishment. Some
organization actually assign protégés tp various mentors, but this practice can
create problems of resentment, abuse of power, and unwillingness to serve.
Mentors are usually older, successful themselves, and respected by their
peers (influential). They also must be willing to commit time and energy to help
another person move up the corporation ladder, be able to communicate
effectively, and share ideas in a nonthreatening fashion, and enjoy one-on-one
development of others. Mentors are often not the employee’s career progress.
Their detachment from a supervisors role also allows them to be more objective
about its strength and weaknesses observed with a protégé.
When others have different perceptions or expectations of a
person’s role, that person tends to experience role conflict. Such conflict
makes it difficult to meet one set of expectations without rejecting
another. A company president faced role conflict, or example, when she
learned that bot the controller and the personnel director wanted her to
allocate the new organization planning function to their department.
When role are inadequately defined or are substantially unknown,
role ambiguity exists, because people are not sure how they should act in
situations of this type. When role conflict and role ambiguity exist, job
satisfaction and organizational commitment will likely decline. On the
other hand, employees tend to be more satisfied with their job when their
roles are clearly defined by job description and statements of performance
expectations. A better understanding of roles helps people know what
others expect of them and how they should act.
If any role
misunderstanding exists when person interact, then problem are likely to
Status is the social rank of a person in a group. It is a mark of the
amount of recognition, honor, and acceptance given to a person. Within
groups, differences in status apparently hve been recognized ever since
civilization began. Whenever people gather into groups, status distinction
are likely to arise, because they enable people to form the different
characteristics and abilities of group member.
Individuals are bound together in status system, or status
hierarchies, which define their rank relative to others n the group. If they
become seriously upset over their status, they are said to feel status anxiety.
Loss of status – sometimes called “losing face” or status deprivation
– is a serious event for most people, it is considered a much more
devastating condition, however, in certain societies. People therefore
become quite responsible in order protect and develop their status.
Since status is important to people, they will work hard to
earn it. If it can be tied to action that further he company’s
goals, then employees are strongly motivated to support their
1) Status Relationship
High-status people within a group usually have more
power and influence than those with low status. They also
receive more privileges from their group and tend to participate
more in group activities. They interact more with their peers
than with those f lower rank. Basically, high status gives people
an opportunity to play a more important role in an organization.
As a result, lower-status members tend to feel isolated from the
mainstream and to show more symptoms that higher ranked
The status system reaches its ultimate end with status
symbols. These are the visible, external things that attach to a
person or workplace and serve as evidence of social rank. They
exist in the office, shop, warehouse, refinery, or whenever work
groups congregate. They are most in evidence among different
levels of managers, because each successive level has the authority
to provide itself with such confidence just a little different from
those of people lower in the structure.
Sources of Status
The sources of status are numerous, but in a typical work
situation several sources are easily identified. Education and job
level are two important sources of higher status. A person’s ability,
job skills, and type of work also are sources of status.
pay, seniority, age, and stock options. Pay, economic recognition
and an opportunity to have more of the amenities in life, be able
to travel. Seniority and age often earn for their holder certain
privileges, such as first chance of vacation dates, or the respect of
co-workers for their longevity at work. Method of pay (hurly
versus salary) and working conditions also provides important
status distinctions, such as distinguishing blue collar and white
Significance of Status
Status is significant to organizational behavior in several
ways. When employees are consumed by the desire for status, it
often is the source of employees problem and conflicts that
management needs to solve. It influences the kinds of transfer that
employees will take, because they don’t want a low-status
location or job assignment.
It helps determine who will be an informal leader of a
group, and it definitely serves to motivate those seeking to
advanced in the organization. Some people are status
seekers, wanting a job of higher status regardless of other
working conditions. These people can be encouraged to
qualify themselves to high status job so that they will feel
Social (national) culture cerate the whole ranging
context in which organizations operate. It provides the
complex social system of laws, values, and customs in which
organizational behavior occurs.
Inside the organization lies another powerful force for
determining individual and group behavior. Organizational cultures
the set of assumptions, beliefs, values, norms that are shared by an
organization’s members. This culture may have been consciously
created by its key members, or it may have simply evolved across
time. It represents a key element of the work environment in
which employees perform their jobs. Tis idea of organizational
culture is somewhat intangible, for we cannot tell or touch ir , but it
present and pervasive.
Organizational culture are important to a firm’s success for
several reasons. They give an organization identity to employees –
a defining vision of what the organizations represents. They are
also an important source of stability and continuity to the
organization, which provides a sense of security to its members.
More than anything else, perhaps, culture helps stimulate
employee enthusiasm for their tasks. Cultures attract attention,
convey a vision, and specially honor high producing and creative
individuals as heroes. By recognizing and motivating these
people, organizational cultures are identifying them as role
Characteristics of Cultures
Organizations like fingertips and snowflakes, are unique.
Each has its own history, kinds of communication, systems and
procedures, mission statements and visions, story and myths
which, in their totality, constitute its distinctive culture. Cultures
are relatively stable in nature, usually changing only slowly
Most organizational cultures have historically been implicit
rather than explicit. More recently, though, organization have
begun their intended cultures, and many top leaders see one of their
major roles as speaking out about the kind of environment they
would like to create within their firms. A final defining
characteristic of most cultures is that they are seen as symbolic
representations of underlying beliefs and values.
Over time, an organization’s culture becomes perpetuated by
its tendency to attract and retain people who fit its values and
beliefs. Just as people may choose to move to a certain region
temperature, humidity, and rainfall, employees who will gravitate
toward the organizational culture they prefer as a work
environment. This results in a good fit of employer and employee.
Characteristics of Organizational Cultures
No one type is best
A reflection of top management
Of varying strengrh
Measuring Organizational Culture
Systematic measurement and comparison of cultures is
difficult at best. Others have used interviews and open-ended
questionnaires in an attempt to assess employee values and
beliefs. In other cases, examination of corporate philosophy
statements has provided insight into the espoused culture (the
beliefs and values that the organization states publicly).
Another approach is to survey employees directly and seek
their perceptions of the organization’s culture. One of the
most interesting methods is to become a member of the
organization and engage in participate observation. This
approach allows direct sensing from the perspective of a
member who is experiencing the culture.
Communicating and Changing Culture
If organizations are to consciously create and manage their
cultures, they must be able to communicate them to
employees, especially the newly hired ones. People are generally
more willing to adapt when they wan to please others, gain
approval, and learn about their new work environment.
Organizations anxious to have the new employee fit in, and
therefore an intentional approach that helps make this happen is
used by many firms.
Collectively, these cultural communication acts may be
lumped under the umbrella of organizational socialization, which
is the continuous process of transmitting key elements of an
organization’s culture to its employees. These approaches help
share the attitudes thoughts and behavior of employees. Viewed
from the organization’s perceptive organizational socialization is
like placing an organization’s fingerprints on people or stamping
its own genetic code on them.
Managers are encouraged to engage in storytelling as a
way to forge a culture and build organizational identity. Good
stories tap into emotions of an audience and have proven to be
powerful ways to create shared meaning and purpose. Stories
convey a sense of tradition, explain how past problems have
been solved, convey personal frailty through tales of mistakes
made and learned from, and enhance cohesion around key
A reciprocal process emerges when changes occur in
other other direction. Employee s can also have an active
impact on the nature of organization’s culture and operation.
Individualization occurs when employees successfully exert
influence on the social system around them at work by
challenging the culture or deviating from it.
When people joint a work group, they become part of that
organization’s social system. It is the medium by which hey relate
to the world of work. The variables in an organizational system
operate in a working balance called social equilibrium, individuals
make a psychological contract that defines their personal
relationship with the system. When they contribute to the
organization’s success, we call their behavior functional.
The broad environment that people live in is their social
culture. People need to accept and appreciate the value that a
diversity of cultural backgrounds can contribute to the success of
an organization. Other important cultural factors include the work
ethic and corporate attitudes toward social responsibility.
Role is the pattern of action expected of a person in
activities involving others. Related ideas are role perception,
mentors, role conflict, and role ambiguity. Status is the social rank
of a person in a group and it leads to status systems and possibly
status anxiety. Status symbols are sought as if they were magical
herbs, because they often provide external evidence of status for
Organizational cultures reflect the assumptions and value
that guide a firm . They are intangible but powerful influences on
employee behavior. Participants learn about their organization’s
culture through the process of socialization and influence through
individualization. Organizational culture can be change, but the
process is time consuming.
- End -