Ways of US work

Organizational Behavior. Fifth edition - Organizational Behavior. Ninth edition
March 1, 2002

These textbooks are truly classic American texts for organisational behaviour students in business or management schools. They are both well-established volumes, having had at least five new editions. Being American in orientation, even though the Robert Kreitner and Angelo Kinicki volume specifically calls itself an "international edition", they also contain all the bells and whistles that go with United States texts. They have exercises, case studies, full-colour photos, simple diagrams, pictures of US business leaders and chapter objectives and so on. Neither contains much reference to European or other international research material or global conceptual frameworks, and where they do, they tend to have a US slant.

The two books cover the same topic areas, but are organised slightly differently. Stephen Robbins examines organisational behaviour from micro to macro, that is, from the individual (values, attitudes, emotions, motivations and so on), through the group level (group behaviour, work teams, leadership, conflict) and the organisational system (structures, technology, human resource policies and organisational culture), to organisational dynamics (change, stress management, historical evolution of organisational behaviour).

Kreitner and Kinicki, on the other hand, although they have sections on these areas, contain very different material within each section. In addition, they start with four chapters in their first section on "the world of organizational behavior", exploring issues such as developing people-centred organisations, research methods in organisational behaviour (OB), managing diversity and international OB or managing across cultures (from the US perspective, of course). Their sections on "organizational processes and evolving organizations" also explore different themes from Robbins's, highlighting instead "organizational communication in the internet age", "empowerment", "managing change in learning organisations" and "organizational effectiveness and design" and so on.

Both books are packed with research and practice, with Robbins following the more traditional subject areas and gaining a slightly more academic orientation. Kreitner and Kinicki similarly include useful theories and research but also more individualised exercises and practical material and good case studies from industry.

I would highly recommend both of these books, with the Kreitner and Kinicki text being more fun and involving. Seeing as the world of work is gradually being Americanised in the United Kingdom, this is a good starting point for understanding where we are likely to be going. If you want to know more about how Europe and the rest of the world differ from the US, you will have to consult other available texts. It would be nice if we could combine both perspectives (at least) in one volume, but that is for some other book, some other day.

Cary L. Cooper is professor of organisational psychology and health, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

Organizational Behavior. Fifth edition

Author - Robert Kreitner and Angelo Kinicki
ISBN - 0 07 118237 3
Publisher - McGraw-Hill
Price - £34.99
Pages - 774

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