Organizational Behavior

02 Sep



Ask Suraj bhai about the dot-com burst and he may grin at you as if to say, “What burst?’’ Suraj bhai, a 38-year-old entrepreneur, owns an Internet business that sells loose diamonds to various buyers. Business is becoming for Suraj bhai. In 2004, he had sales of INR 3,500 million. Needless to say, Suraj bhai is optimistic about his business venture.

The future wasn’t always to bright for Suraj bhai, however. In 1985, Suraj bhai moved from his native town Suraj, to New Delhi, with little ability to speak English. There, he attended language courses and worked at the local mall to support himself. After graduation, his roommate’s girlfriend suggested that he work at a local jeweler. “I thought she was crazy. I didn’t know anything about jewelry,’’ says Suraj bhai, who took her advice. Though he worked hard and received his Diamonds and Diamonds Grading certification from the Gemological Institute, he wasn’t satisfied with his progress. `I quickly realized that working there, I was just going to get a salary with a raise here and there. I would never become anything. That drove me to explore other business ventures. I also came to really known diamonds – their pricing and their quality.’’

In 1997, tired of working for someone else, Suraj bhai decided to open his own jewelry store. However, business didn’t boom. `Some of my customers were telling me they could find diamonds for less on the Interest. It blew my mind’’ Surajy bhai recognized an opportunity and began contacting well-known diamond dealers to see if they would be interested in selling their gems online. Suraj bhai recalls one conversation with a prominent dealer who told him, `You cannot sell diamonds on the Internet. You will not survive.’’ Discouraged, Suraj bhai then says that he made a mistake. “I stopped working on it. If you have a dream, you have to keep working harder at it.’’

A year later, Suraj bhai did work harder at his dream and found a dealer who agreed to provide him with some diamonds. Says Suray bhai, “Once I had one. I could approach others. Business started to build. The first 3 months I sold INR 20 million worth of diamonds right off the bat. And that was just me. I started to add employees and eventually closed the jewelry store and got out of retail.’’ Although Suraj bhai does have some diamonds in inventory, he primarily acts as a connection point between buyers and suppliers, giving his customers an extraordinary selection from which to choose.

Suraj bhai is now a savvy entrepreneur, and his company,, went public in October 2003.

Why is Suraj bhai successful? Just ask two people who have known Suraj bhai over the years. Yogesh bhai, a realtor who helped build Suraj bhai building, says, “Suraj bhai is a very ambitious young man. I am not surprised at all how successful he is. He is an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the world.’’ One of Suraj bhai former real-estate instructors, Arun Jain, concurs. `I am not surprised at all at his success,’’ says Arun. “Suraj bhai has always been an extremely motivated individual with a lot of resources. He has a wonderful personality and pays close attention to detail. He also has an ability to stick to things. You could tell from the beginning that he was going to persevere, and I am proud of him.’’

Suraj bhai is keeping his success in perspective, but he also realizes his business’ potential: “I take a very small salary, and our overhead in INR 25 million a year. I am not in debt, and the business is breaking ever. I care about the company. I want to keep everything even until we take off, and then it may be another ball game.’’


1. What factors do you think attributed to Suraj bhai’s success? Was he merely “in the right place at the right time’’, or are there characteristics about him that contribute to his success?

2. How do you believe Suraj bhai would score on the Big Five dimensions of personality (extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness to experience)? Which ones would he score high on? Which ones might he score low on?

3. Do you believe that Suraj bhai is high or low on core self-evaluations? On what information did you base your decision?

4. What information about Suraj bhai suggests that he has a proactive personality?




It got to where I was twitching, literally, on the way into work,’’ states Carrie Clark, a 52-year-old retired teacher and administrator. After enduring 10 months of repeated insults and mistreatment from her supervisor, she finally quit her job. “I had to take care of my health.’’

Though many individuals recall bullies from their elementary school days, some are realizing that bullies can exist in the workplace as well. And these bullies do not just pick on the weakest in the group, rather, any subordinate in their path may fall prey to their torment, according to Dr. Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute. Dr. Namie further says workplace bullies are not limited to men-women are at least as likely to be bullies. However, gender discrepancies are found in victims of bullying, as women are more likely to be targets.

What motivates a boss to be a bully? Dr. Harvey Hornstein, a retired professor from Teachers College at Columbia University, suggests that supervisors may use bullying as a means to subdue a subordinate that poses a threat to the supervisor’s status. Additionally, supervisors may bully individuals to vent frustrations. Many times however, the sheer desire to wield power may be the primary reason for bullying.

What is the impact of bullying on employee motivation and behavior? Surprisingly, even though victims of workplace bullies may feel less motivated to go to work every day, it does not appear that they discontinue performing their required job duties. However, it does appear that victims of bullies are less motivated to perform extra-role or citizenship behaviors. Helping others, speaking positively about the organization, and going beyond the call of duty are behaviors that are reduced as a result of bullying. According to Dr. Bennett Tepper of the University of North Carolina, fear may be the reason that many workers continue to perform their job duties. And not all individuals reduce their citizenship behaviors. Some continue to engage in extra-role behaviors to make themselves look better than their colleagues.

What should you do if your boss is bullying you? Don’t necessarily expect help from coworkers. As Emelise Aleandri, an actress and producer from New York who left her job after being bullied, stated, “Some people were afraid to do anything. But others didn’t mind what was happening at all, because they wanted my job.’’ Moreover, according to Dr. Michelle Duffy of the University of Kentucky, coworkers often blame victims of bullying in order to resolve their guilt. “they do this by wondering whether maybe the person deserved the treatment, that he or she has been annoying, or lazy, they did something to earn it,’’ states Dr. Duffy. One example of an employee who observed this phenomenon firsthand is Sherry Hamby, who was frequently verbally abused by her boss and then eventually fired. She stated, “This was a man who insulted me, who insulted by family, who would lay into me while everyone else in the office just sat there and let it happen. The people in my office eventually started blaming me.’’

What can a bullied employee do? Dr. Hornstein suggests that employees try to ignore the insults and respond only to the substance of the bully’s grip. `stick with the substance, not the process, and often it won’t escalate,’’ he states. Of course, that is easier said than done.


1) Of the three types of organizational justice, which one does workplace bullying most closely resemble?

2) What aspects of motivation might workplace bullying reduce? For example, are there likely to be effects on an employee’s self-efficacy? If so, what might those effects be?

3) If you were a victim of workplace bullying, what steps would you take to try to reduce its occurrence? What strategies would be most effective? What strategies might be ineffective? What would you do if one of your colleagues was a victim of an abusive supervisor?

4) What factors do you believe contribute to workplace bullying? Are bullies a product of the situation, or are they flawed personalities? What situations and what personality factors might contribute to the presence of bullies?




Thought it may seem fairly obvious that receiving praise and recognition from one’s company is a motivating experience, sadly many companies are failing miserably when it comes to saying “thanks’’ to their employees. According to curt Coffman global practice leader at Gallup, 71 percent of U.S. workers are “disengaged’’, essentially meaning that they could care less about their organization. Coffman states. “We’re operating at one-quarter of the capacity in terms of managing human capital. It’s alarming.’’ Employee recognition programs, which became more popular as the U.S. economy shifted from industrial to knowledge-based, can be an effective way to motivate employees and make them feel valued. In many cases, however, recognition programs are doing “more harm than good’’ according to Coffman.

Take Ko, a 50-year-old former employee of a dot-com in California. Her company proudly instituted a rewards program designed to motivate employees. What were the rewards for a job well-done? Employees would receive a badge which read “U Done Good’’ and, each year, would receive a T-shirt as a means of annual recognition. Once an employee received 10 “U Done Good’’ badges, he or she could trade them in for something bigger and better—a paperweight. Ko states that she would have preferred a raise. “It was patronizing. There wasn’t any deep thought involved in any of this.’’ To make matters worse, she says the badges were handed out arbitrarily and were not tied to performance. And what about those T-shirts? Ko states that the company instilled a strict dress code, so employees couldn’t even wear the shirts if they wanted to. Needless to say, the employee recognition program seemed like an empty gesture rather than a motivation.

Even programs that provide employees with more expensive rewards can backfire, especially if the rewards are given insincerely. Eric Lange, an employee of a trucking company, recalls the time when one of the company’s vice presidents achieved a major financial goal for the company. The vice president, who worked in an office best of Lange, received a Cadillac Seville as his company car and a new Rolex wristwatch that cost the company $10,000. Both were lavish gifts, but the way they were distributed left a sour taste in the vice president’s mouth. He entered his office to find the Rolex in a cheap cardboard box sitting on his desk, along with a brief letter explaining that he would be receiving a 1099 tax form in order to pay taxes on the watch. Lange state of the vice president, “He came into my office, which was right next door, and said, `can you believe this?’’ A mere 2 months later, the vice president pawned the watch. Lange explains. “It had absolutely no meaning for him.

Such experiences resonate with employees who may find more value in a sincere pat on the back than gifts from management that either are meaningless or aren’t conveyed with respect or sincerity. However, sincere pats on the back may be hard to come by. Gallup’s poll found that 61 percent of employees stated that they haven’t received a sincere, “thank you’’ from management in the past year. Finding such as these are troubling, as verbal rewards are not only inexpensive for companies to hand out but also are quick and easy to distribute. Of course, verbal rewards do need to be paired sometimes with tangible benefits that employees value – after all, money talks. In addition, when praising employees for a job well-done, managers need to ensure that the praise is given in conjunction with the specific accomplishment. In this way, employees may not only feel valued by their organization but will also know what actions to take to be rewarded in the future.


1) If praising employees for doing a good job seems to be a fairly easy and obvious motivational tools, why do you think companies and managers don’t often do it?

2) As a manager, what steps would you take to motivate your employees after observing them perform well?

3) Are there any downsides to giving employees too much verbal praise? What might these downsides be and how could you alleviate them as a manager?

4) As a manager, how would you ensure that recognition given to employees is distributed fairly and justly?




What does it take to be a great U.S. president? A survey of 78 history, political science, and law scholars rated the U.S. presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Here are the presidents who were rated “Great’’ and “Near Great.’’


George Washington

Abraham Lincoln

Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR)

Near Great

Thomas Jefferson

Andrew Jackson

James Polk

Theodore Roosevelt

Harry Truman

Dwight Eisenhower

Ronald Reagan

Among recent presidents, Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter were ranked “Below Average’’ and Presidents G. H. W. Bush (the first President Bush) and Clinton were ranked “Average’’.

So what explains these ratings? The following are some qualities of presidents who have stood the test of time.

  1. Great presidents are transformational leaders who engender strong emotions – that is, you either love them or you hate them (it’s hard to hate someone who made little difference). And great presidents enact a vision that may not respond to popular opinion. Lincoln and FDR were beloved, and hated, by millions.
  2. Great presidents are bold and take risks, and almost all great presidents emerge successfully from a crisis. A great president is perceived as “being there’’ when a crisis emerges and taking bold action to lead the nation out of the crisis – for example, Lincoln in the Civil War and Roosevelt in WWII.
  3. Great presidents are associated with a vision. Most people, for example, are able to associate the great presidents with defining moment where a clear set of principles was articulated – for example, FDR’s speech to Congress after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  4. Great presidents are charismatic. They are engaging, articulate, and expressive, which helps capture the public’s attention and rallies people around a president’s cause. One leadership expert argues that the best presidents create colorful personas with their language by using words with basic emotions – for example, good versus evil or love versus hate.

So what about President George W. Bush (the second President Bush)? Shortly after his second inauguration, President Bush embarked on an ambitious agenda of legal reform, transforming the Social Security system, tax reform, and revising immigration laws. One writer commented, “Bush has always thought big, and always believed you earn political capital by expending it.’’ However, the closeness of the 2004 election (Bush received 51 percent of the vote and Kerry received 48 percent) suggests that Bush may not have overwhelming support.


1. How would you rate President George W. Bush on the four characteristics outlined at the beginning of the case? How would you contrast his reaction to Hurricane Katrina with his reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? What do you think his handling of these two events says about his leadership?

2. Do you think leaders in other contexts (business’, sports, religious) exhibit the same qualities of great or near-great U.S. presidents?

3. Do you think being in the right place at the right time could influence presidential greatness?


Case V


Mark Colvard, a United Parcel manager in San Ramon, California, recently faced a difficult decision. One of his drivers asked for 2 weeks off  to help an ailing family member. But company rules said this driver wasn’t eligible. If Colvard went by the book, the driver would probably take the days off anyway and be fired. On the other hand, Colvard was likely to be criticized by other drivers if he bent the rules. Colvard chose to give the driver the time off. Although he took some heat for the decision, he also kept a valuable employee.

Had Colvard been faced with this decision 6 months earlier, he says he would have gone the other way. What changed his thinking was a month he spent living in McAllen, Texas. It was part of a UPS management training experience called the Community Internship Program (CIP). During his month in McAllen, Colvard built housing for the poor, collected clothing for the Salvation Army, and worked in a drug rehab center. Colvard gives the program credit for helping him empathize with employees facing cries back home. And he says that CIP has made him a better manager. “My goal was to make the numbers, and in some cases that meant not looking at the individual but looking the bottom line. After that 1-month stay, I immediately started reaching out to people in a different way.’’

CIP was established by UPS in the late 1960s to help open the eyes of the company’s predominantly white managers to the poverty and inequality in many cities. Today, the program takes 50 of the company’s most promising executives each summer and brings them to cities around the country. There they deal with a variety of problems- from transportation to housing, education, and health care. The company’s goal is to awaken these managers to the challenges that many of their employees face, bridging the cultural divide that separates a white manager from an African American driver or an upper-income suburbanite from a worker raised in the rural South.


1. Do you think individuals can learn empathy from something like a 1-month CIP experience? Explain why or why not.

2. How could UPS’s CIP help the organization better manage work-life conflicts?

3. How could UPS’s CIP help the organization improve its response to diversity?

4. What negatives, if any, can you envision resulting from CIP?

5. UPS has 2,400 managers. CIP includes only 50 each year. How can the program make a difference if it includes only 2 percent of all managers? Does this suggest that the program is more public relations than management training?

6. How can UPS justify the cost of a program like CIP if competitors like FedEx, DHL, and the U.S. Postal Service don’t offer such programs? Does the program increase costs or reduce UPS profits?

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