May 11, 2022

OB System

A system is a group of interrelated parts acting together to accomplish a goal. An organization today is described as a system. It is viewed as a group of interrelated parts within a unified purpose. All systems are composed of five basic elements input, process, and output (plus internal and external environment). 

Similarly, OB can also be viewed from a systems perspective (approach). It is a social system. Organizations achieve their goals by creating, operating, and communicating an OB system. We present here the OB system (model) developed by S.P. Robbins. OB system is composed of inputs, processes (throughputs), outputs, and feedback mechanisms. It also interacts with the external environmental forces. 

ob system

a. Inputs: 

Inputs are called the independent variables. They are also the determinants of productivity, absenteeism, turnover, citizenship, and job satisfaction. There are three categories of input variables to the OB system. They are individual-level variables, group-level variables, and organizational-level variables. Individuals working in organizations are the building blocks (elements) for group formation. When groups are combined, they constitute (form) an organization. Each of them is interdependent (for details also see ‘levels of OB analysis’ after in this topic). 

b. Processes: 

The inputs received by the individuals, groups, and organization as a whole are processed together to bring the output (the dependent variables). Inputs received by an OB system are processed by: 

  • individual process variables (e.g. motivation, perception, learning decision making, etc.) 
  • group process variables (e.g. group dynamics communication, leadership, power and politics, conflict process, etc.) 
  • organizational process variables (e.g. HR policies and practices, interaction with the external environment, formal organizational designs, etc. for details also see ‘contributing disciplines to the field of OB.) 

c. Outputs: 

Outputs are also called the dependent variables. They are the key factors that OB wants to explain and predict. Here, we explain briefly each of these dependent variables: 

  • productivity: 

One of the major concerns of OB is productivity. Since it is an indicator of how much an organization is creating relative to its inputs. In other words, it is a measurement of performance that includes efficiency and effectiveness. It is a kind of ratio between input and output.                                

  • Absenteeism:

 The second major output variable of the OB system is absenteeism. It is defined as the intentional failure to go to work. The high degree of workers absenteeism may result in poor organizational productivity and vice versa.              

  • Turnover:

 it is the third output or dependent variable of the OB system. It is something that occurs when people quit their jobs. It covers both voluntary and involuntary permanent withdrawal from an organization. A high level of employee turnover brings a low level of productivity and vice-versa. 

  • Organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB): 

it is the extent to which an individual’s behavior makes a positive overall contribution to the organization. According to one expert “OCB is discretionary (Voluntary) behavior that is not part of an employee’s formal job requirements, but that nevertheless promotes the effective functioning of the organization.”

  • Job satisfaction: 

it is the final dependent variable in an OB system. Job satisfaction is the amount of overall positive effect (or feelings) that individuals have towards their jobs. It represents an attitude rather than behavior. This variable is also important from the organizational point of view because: 

Satisfaction is negatively related to absenteeism and turnover (i.e. high level of job satisfaction produces a low level of employee absenteeism and turnover and vice versa.) 

d. Feedback: 

The feedback system measures outputs of the OB process and feeds them into the system (i.e. inputs and processing) to correct deviations and to achieve the desired behavioral results. 


Based on the above discussion it can be safely concluded that if OB system is designed and implemented properly by managers in organizations, it brings a higher level of employee productivity, lower level of employee absenteeism and turnover; employees feel proud to be a part of that organization (OCB), and a high degree of job satisfaction and vice versa. Again, the system of OB is influenced by an external environment where it operates.

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