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A Look at Organizational Behavior in the School Environment

The study of organizational behavior is often focused on business and industry. However, the theories of organizational behavior apply to educational environments as well. One of the key differences is that in education, the organization is influencing the lives of children and the quality of their education, while in business, organizational behavior influences the productivity, profitability and job satisfaction of the individuals and the company.

Understanding Organizational Behavior

A recent study posits that the academic discipline of organizational behavior “applies the knowledge acquired about individuals, and the effect of structure on behaviour, to make organisations work more effectually. Organisational behaviour is an academic discipline concerned with defining, understanding, expecting and controlling human behaviour within an organisational environment.”

Individuals in an organization behave based on their personalities, perceptions, approaches, behaviors, values, norms, job satisfaction, learning and motivation. Studying how individuals learn, how they perform tasks, what their motivations are and the psychology behind their actions is key to understanding how they will respond in group settings.

Groups are defined as two or more individuals in the organization, and the behavior of a group is influenced by interpersonal relationships, communication, networks, and roles. Studying group dynamics, conflict and cohesion, leadership and communication is also important to understanding organizational behavior.

The structure of an organization is based on the relationship of the individuals and groups within it. People have different roles, qualifications, experiences and abilities. Studying organizational culture, diversity, cooperation and conflict, change, technology, and external environmental influences draws on anthropology and political science.

Organizational Behavior in Education

According to a recent article in WiseGeek, the definition of organizational behavior in education includes the “structure of the school, the process by which the school gauges performance, and how an educational institution responds to change.”

The Job of the Educational Leader

Creating a “culture” in an educational organization is an involved process — the result of principal leadership, teacher attitudes, student behavior, parental involvement, and the level of community activism. How an organization functions is also affected by the efficiency and capability of the individuals, the group and the structure. The organization exists to support the individuals within it, not the other way around.

A strong administrative leadership group, which includes principals, assistant principals, curriculum coordinators and others “is necessary to create and enforce the proper tone in the organization in order to meet its goals,” notes WiseGeek.

Creating a culture which is supportive of students and faculty and conducive to learning and student achievement is one of the main responsibilities of an education leader. Managing diversity in the workforce and in the student population is key to eliminating discrimination and achieving effective conflict resolution for students and staff alike.

Challenges for Educational Leaders

Major challenges that educational leaders face include fostering collaboration; managing the actual infrastructure, technology, and budget; dealing with human resource issues for teachers and staff; dealing with student learning disabilities and physical disabilities or impairments; improving curriculum and instruction; and managing innovation and change.

Organizational behavior contributes to the management of these challenges. When school leaders apply the knowledge acquired about the individuals, groups and the structure of their organization, they are able to work toward achievement of organizational goals. An effective leader understands the assets and liabilities of the individuals within the organization in order to form groups and structure in the organization that can best achieve its goals.

Becoming an Educational Leader

University of Southern Maine offers a fully online program for educators who want to pursue a Master of Science in Education degree in Educational Leadership. Whether your career goal is to become a school principal, a curriculum coordinator, or an administrator or assistant administrator of special education, the MSEd in Educational Leadership program from USM will prepare you for success.

This online program may be completed in as few as 14 months and consists of 36 credit hours. The University of Southern Maine is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). You can choose one of three certification strands: school principal, curriculum coordinator or special education director.

This program offers the flexibility of multiple start dates per year, and you can pay by the course. The online format makes it possible for working professionals to pursue this degree while continuing to work.

Learn more about the University of Southern Maine’s online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership program.


ResearchGate: Study of Organizational Behavior in EducationWiseGeek: What is the Role of Organizational Behavior in Education?

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