• Course Introduction

        • Time: 83 hours
        • Free Certificate
        There is no shortage of quotes in which inspirational business leaders describe the sources of their success. Their reasons are often diverse, but almost everyone comes back to the same thing: people. The people are the company; they create success. Even so, there is more to successful business leadership than managing human capital, since you must also have a suitable structure and culture at your firm. Imagine the U.S. military: it boasts some of the best-trained soldiers in the world, but that talent would be wasted without a structure designed to appropriately deploy forces. In other words, the military would not be as successful without streamlined organizational behavior. Organizational behavior (OB) is the study of how people interact in organizations. These interactions are governed by a number of factors, including your personal life, the personality of your boss or your boss' boss, a direct report, the team you have been assigned to, or the direction that the top of the organization has given to you. OB researchers carefully monitor these dynamics within an organization, because any time there is friction, money is lost. A certain level of friction is to be expected (and often even desired), but most of the friction that occurs within an organization is counterproductive and detrimental to the bottom line. In this course, you will study the factors that have the greatest impact on organizational behavior. From managing individuals and understanding group dynamics to managing conflict and initiating change, organizational behavior affects everyone in a firm.

        This course will cover five major OB areas including managing individuals, managing groups, power and politics, conflict management, and organizational change. Before delving into more rigorous materials, it is important to understand what an organization is and the history of organizational behavior as a discipline. In taking this into consideration, this course will begin with a look at the basics of an organization.

        First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me in this course". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

      • Unit 1: Organizations in Business

        Let's start with the basics in considering the following question: what is an organization? An organization is a collection of individuals arranged in a particular way and embedded in an ever-changing environment in order to achieve a common goal. In this introductory unit, you will learn about organizations in business, focusing on how the individual plays a role in the success of the organization. You will learn that you must understand what influences individual behavior before you can study how individuals interact with organizations. As in psychology and sociology, the individual person is the focus of organizational behavior. Because sciences like psychology and sociology are older, more established fields of study than organizational behavior, we will take a look at them in order to better understand the purpose and applications of OB. This unit will provide you with an introduction to OB, including the history and emerging trends of OB. In addition, we will identify the micro-level factors that contribute to our understanding of the OB field. You will also learn about how OB is connected with other sciences. Finally, you will be provided with information on how to properly evaluate research in OB.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.

      • Unit 2: Managing Individuals

        Organizational behavior focuses on how individuals interact within a firm. As you know, different incentives motivate and influence individuals; some people strive for success or social status, others just like to keep busy, and still others are focused on simply making money. These are important differences to consider if you are at the helm of a business, as it may influence the ways in which you motivate your workforce.

        In this unit, you will explore individual personalities and learn what inspires people to want to succeed in the workplace. You will learn the tools used to identify these traits and recognize that certain traits, such as the ability to handle stress, are more desirable than others in a work setting. Note that different organizations will value traits differently. For example, perhaps your organization values a sense of humor more! Knowing these traits and how to identify them in people will greatly enhance the success of a business.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 23 hours.

      • Unit 3: Managing Groups

        Is there a difference between a group and team? Certainly! For example, groups can exist without having a specific goal in mind, or they can have a goal that fluctuates or changes to adapt to the needs of the group. A book club is a group. However, the people you discuss that month's reading with are not part of your team.

        To have a team, you must have a clear and elevating goal that supersedes all individual goals. Usually, this goal does not change or get adjusted; instead, it guides all aspects of the team's performance. This does not mean there is no place for groups within a company; many groups exist to serve other needs within the organization. You might, for example, have a committee for enhancing diversity, or a group of executives that are searching for a new CEO. In both of these examples, there is a goal (to increase diversity or find a CEO), but the way this goal is attained can change throughout the process. Perhaps your group decided halfway through the process to only consider internal hires for a promotion instead of conducting an external search.

        Whether you are working with a group or a team, there are several characteristics that successful groups and teams share, including proper group development, the establishment of guidelines and boundaries, leadership, and strong communication channels. In this unit, you will learn about these topics and more. Because so much of business success relies on teams and groups, learning how to properly manage them may be the most important takeaway from this course.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 14 hours.

      • Unit 4: Leveraging Power

        Power is a popular topic, because it is so easily misused. We all have some kind of power over others, whether it is earned through a promotion in the organization or just a reflection of knowledge and experience. This unit may alter your understanding of power and teach you that there is nothing wrong with using power (appropriately). In fact, as an employee, you are expected to use the power you have within an organization as you were likely employed for just that reason. Power comes in many forms, but it is almost always used to influence.

        This unit will discuss how influence differs from manipulation and explain how individuals use influence within the workforce. This unit will conclude with a look at the politics within organizations and how ethics apply to power. As you are likely aware, there are too many examples in which power is used improperly in business. Responsible business schools today place extra emphasis upon ethics, especially when talking about subjects such as power.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.

      • Unit 5: Conflict Management and Negotiations

        Conflict is a good thing, as long as it is productive. Insulting someone is not productive, but a healthy debate is the foundation of democracy and is valuable in business as well. Successful organizations encourage healthy conflict; it forces people to defend opinions and allows for a free flow of ideas. Of course, managers must prevent these conflicts from getting out of hand.

        The same ideas apply to negotiation, or conflict with an individual outside of the organization. The key to successful negotiation is preparation. Whereas conflict within a firm can be less formal, negotiations require much more due diligence. Whether it is a $10,000 contract or a $10 billion merger, the principles of negotiation remain the same.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

      • Unit 6: Managing Change

        Change is a surprisingly difficult process for firms. When two large companies merge, it can take a couple of years to reorganize and many more years before the two respective cultures truly merge. This transition process can be especially challenging if the cultures are very different. For example, if a southern bank purchases a bank based in the northeast, the two different banking styles could wreak havoc within the organization, as the southern company may rely on customer service and slow growth, whereas the northern bank prefers an aggressive strategy. Such mergers happen regularly, and OB specialists are involved in the process from the start.

        In cases like this one, the structure of a firm's management is just as important as its culture. Will the two banks continue to operate with a decentralized format, or will they have all of senior management in one location? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing it one way or another? And of course, the most difficult aspect of managing change is implementing it in the first place. Humans are naturally resistant to change; making changes in an organization is no exception.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 14 hours.

      • Study Guide

        This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

      • Course Feedback Survey

        Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

        If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org or post in our discussion forum.

      • Certificate Final Exam

        Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

        To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

      • Saylor Direct Credit

        This credit exam is currently unavailable. The most recent credit recommendation for this exam ended April 30th. We expect to have this exam available again very soon. Please email records@saylor.org with your questions.

        Take this exam if you want to earn college credit for this course. This course is eligible for college credit through Saylor Academy's Saylor Direct Credit Program.

        The Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam requires a proctoring fee of $5. To pass this course and earn a Proctor-Verified Course Certificate and official transcript, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on the Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam. Your grade for this exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again a maximum of 3 times, with a 14-day waiting period between each attempt.

        We are partnering with SmarterProctoring to help make the proctoring fee more affordable. We will be recording you, your screen, and the audio in your room during the exam. This is an automated proctoring service, but no decisions are automated; recordings are only viewed by our staff with the purpose of making sure it is you taking the exam and verifying any questions about exam integrity. We understand that there are challenges with learning at home - we won't invalidate your exam just because your child ran into the room!


        1. Desktop Computer
        2. Chrome (v74+)
        3. Webcam + Microphone
        4. 1mbps+ Internet Connection

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a Credit-Recommended Course Completion Certificate and can request an official transcript.