Individual Behaviour in Organization: What, Factors Affecting, Biographical Attributes

What is Individual Behaviour?

Individual behaviour is the response of an individual towards an action, environment, person or stimulus. It not only affects the way an individual behaves at the workplace, but also impacts his/her work.

For example, an individual who does not take things seriously also takes deadlines at the workplace casually and does not put the required amount of effort to meet them.

Thus, it is important for the manager of an organization to understand the individual behavior of the employees working with him/her to delegate job responsibilities so as to obtain the best outcome. In addition, it also helps managers develop a positive and result-oriented work attitude among individuals/employees.

This can be done by providing training, rewards, and recognition, and involving employees in decision-making.

To understand individual behavior, organizations need to first identify the factors that affect and build individual behavior.

Factors Affecting Individual Behaviour

The different factors affecting individual behaviour are discussed as follows:

Personal Factors

These factors are either inherited in an individual or acquired during his/her life. Thus, these factors include biographical attributes and learned attributes.

Environmental Factors

The environment around an individual also plays a major role in building his/her behavior. Some of the environmental factors affecting individual behavior are as follows:

Economic Factors

These include the economic conditions prevalent in a state or a country, which may positively or negatively affect the behavior of an individual. Some of these conditions are

Employment Level

A situation where employment opportunities are less in a state or a country can lead to negative thoughts in the minds of individuals. Such negative thoughts further reflect in the behavior of individuals at the workplace.

This can lead to a reduction in their confidence, their ability to take risks, and their innovation capabilities because their main focus remains on the security of jobs

Wage Rates

If wage rates are low in a state or a country, individuals either start migrating from the place or do not perform their best (if they work at the same place)

Technological Development

It is observed that ambitious people always try to work at a place where they can gain new knowledge. The technology automates business processes and thus, helps organizations to work smoothly.

If an organization does not have the required technology, its employees find it difficult to work effectively. This further reduces the confidence level of employees and increases irritation and frustration among them.

Socio-cultural Factors

The sociocultural environment includes the family or society in which an individual resides, and the culture followed in that society. The sociocultural environment has a direct impact on the behavior of an individual.

For example, an individual belonging to an educated family and a high society is likely to behave formally with command over his/her words and activities, at the workplace. On the other hand, an individual from an uneducated background is likely to behave in a different manner.

Political Factors

The political conditions of a country affect individual behavior because they impact the employment level, wage rates, and investment options in the country.

Organizational Behaviour

Individual behavior is also impacted by the internal environment of an organization. This environment includes the policies, physical facilities (such as ventilation, noise level, furnishing, light, and the number of people), the flow of communication, the reporting system, and the reward system of an organization.

All these aspects have a considerable impact on individual behavior. If these aspects are not favorable to individuals, they may become irritated and unsatisfied, which in turn affects the performance of the individuals negatively.

Biographical Attributes of Individual

Physical Characteristics

These characteristics include the height, weight, skin, shape, vision, and complexion of an individual. These characteristics also impact individual behavior in the workplace. If an individual has an inferiority or a superiority complex about his/her characteristics, the individual’s behavior at the workplace is impacted.

For example, an individual having excess weight is not able to perform a field job as effectively as an individual with less weight and a fitter body. This affects the performance of the individual having more weight, thereby impacting his/her behavior at the workplace.


The age and performance of an individual are closely related to each other. It is assumed that young people are energetic, innovative, ambitious, and risk-taking; while older people are assumed to be more conservative, prone to work on a defined principle, and less adaptive in nature.

However, these characteristics cannot be generalized because some people’s energy levels and enthusiasm do not decrease with age.


In today’s times, it is not appropriate to assume differences between men and women with respect to work and performance. Women are employed in every field and are performing every job that men perform.

However, the frequency of women performing the jobs considered specific to men, such as the military and other field jobs, is less. In such types of jobs, women are still not considered appropriate.

Thus, women in such professions face discrimination, which not only affects their behavior towards work, colleagues, and seniors but also impacts their performance.


Religion-based bias exists in some professions, especially in India, which further affects the behavior of individuals in the workplace.

For example, in India, people at higher positions in organizations build good relationships with individuals of their own caste or religion and favor them in professional issues without analyzing the situation. This further affects the behavior of other individuals in the workplace.

Marital Status

Although there are no studies that show a direct relationship between marital status and the performance of an individual at the workplace, the behavior of individuals can be impacted by their marriage. It is found that married people are more responsible and have a long-term perspective on any decision or topic. This has a positive impact on their performance.


An individual’s experience affects his/her performance as well as behavior at the workplace. An experienced person performs his/her work more effectively as compared to an inexperienced person.

This is because the experienced person is aware of the cause and effect of every activity and every step that was taken while performing a job, as he/she has repeated it several times.

Thus, experienced people are more confident and have a positive attitude toward work, while inexperienced people tend to be nervous and might avoid taking risks at work.


Intelligence is the capability of an individual with respect to his/her emotional knowledge, memory, logic, problem-solving ability, learning, and abstract thought. It directly affects the performance of an individual.

An intelligent individual can easily learn and can identify new and creative ways to perform a task. Thus, the performance of such individuals is often high, and they persist in positive, problem-solving, and creative behavior.

Let us discuss the last factor affecting individual behavior, that is, ability (as shown in Figure 2.2), in the next section.

Types of Ability in OB

Ability is the capacity of a person to perform a job, handle a situation, or innovate. It can be broadly categorized into the following types:

Intellectual Ability

It is the ability of an individual to perform jobs involving mental capabilities. It includes:

  • Number Aptitude: It is the ability of an individual to perform arithmetic problems quickly and with accuracy.

  • Verbal Comprehension: It is the ability of an individual to understand the meaning of what is read or heard by him/her.

  • Perceptual Speed: It is the ability of an individual to determine the similarities and differences between different events accurately and rapidly.

  • Inductive Reasoning: It is the ability to determine a logical sequence in a problem and then solve it accordingly.

  • Deductive Reasoning: It is the ability of an individual to apply and measure the outcome of an argument.

  • Spatial Visualization: It is the ability of an individual to imagine the appearance of an object if its position is changed in space.

  • Memory: It is the ability of an individual to retain and recall his/her past experiences and events.

Physical Ability

It is the ability of an individual to perform jobs involving physical capabilities. It includes:

  • Dynamic Strength: It is the ability of an individual to exert muscular force repeatedly and rapidly.

  • Trunk Strength: It is the ability of an individual to exert muscular force repeatedly and rapidly using the trunk muscles.

  • Static Strength: It is the ability of an individual to exert force against external objects.

  • Explosive Strength: It is the ability of an individual to exert and expand force in one or a series of explosive acts.

  • Extent Flexibility: It is the ability of an individual to bend the trunk and back muscles as much as possible.

  • Dynamic Flexibility: It is the ability of an individual to perform flexible movements repeatedly and rapidly.

  • Body Coordination: It is the ability of an individual to coordinate the simultaneous movements of different body parts.

  • Stamina: It is the ability of an individual to continue putting in maximum effort over long periods of time.

  • Balance: It is the ability of an individual to maintain equilibrium against external forces.

The ability of an individual directly impacts his/her behavior at the workplace. For example, if an individual is involved in mental work and has better intellectual abilities as compared to other people working at the same profile, then he/she might try to dominate others.

However, it can also positively affect the behavior of the individual because he/she might not only perform his/her job with perfection but also help others to perform it.

Ability-job Fit

The abilities of an employee should match the job requirements to perform the job effectively. For example, if an individual, hired as an accountant, has a low number aptitude ability, then he/she cannot perform his/her job effectively.

There should be a proper balance between the abilities of an employee and the job requirements. If the abilities are less than what is required for performing the job effectively, the employee performance will be low.

On the other hand, if the abilities of an employee are more than the job requirements, the employee may feel dissatisfied, leading to organizational inefficiency.

JobsAbilities Required
AccountantNumber aptitude
InvestigatorPerceptual speed
Market researcherInductive reasoning
SupervisorDeductive reasoning
Interior DesignerSpatial visualisation
Sales ExecutiveMemory
High-rise construction workerBalance
Beach lifeguardSpatial-visualization abilities
and body coordination
Dancer and gymnastExtent and dynamic flexibility
SoldierReasoning and body coordination
Examples of Different Jobs and the Abilities Required for Performing These Jobs

What is Values?

Values refer to an individual’s inherent principles, which pre-determine his/her reaction in a particular situation. Thus, in the scenario, Amar Joshi’s values lean towards immorality, which prompts him to lie in the given professional situation.

The values of an individual are built on the basis of his/her family background, culture, past experiences, and ethical standards. They form the base of an individual’s attitude, perception, and behavior.

According to the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS), values can be broadly classified into two types, namely, terminal values and instrumental values. Each of these two types of values includes 18 more values.

Types of Values

The different types of values as per the RVS are as follows:

Terminal Values

These values represent the end-state of an individual’s efforts. Such values consist of goals that individuals set for themselves in their lives. For example, being a top performer can be an individual’s terminal value.

The 18 values included in terminal values are:

  • True friendship (close companionship)
  • Mature love (sexual and spiritual intimacy)
  • Self-respect (self-esteem)
  • Happiness (contentedness)
  • Inner harmony (freedom from inner conflict)
  • Equality (brotherhood, equal opportunity for all)
  • Freedom (independence, free choice)
  • Pleasure (an enjoyable, leisurely life)
  • Social recognition (respect, admiration)
  • Wisdom (a mature understanding of life)
  • Salvation (saved, eternal life)
  • Family security (taking care of loved ones)
  • National security (protection from attack)
  • A sense of accomplishment (lasting contribution)
  • A world of beauty (beauty of nature and the arts)
  • A world at peace (free of war and conflict)
  • A comfortable life (a prosperous life)
  • An exciting life (a stimulated, active life)

Instrumental Values

These values work as a means to achieve terminal values. For example, to achieve the terminal value of being a top performer, a person requires instrumental values such as ambition, intellect, and capability.

The 18 instrumental values are:

  • Cheerfulness (light-hearted, joyful)
  • Ambition (hard-working, aspiring)
  • Love (affectionate, tender)
  • Cleanliness (neat, tidy)
  • Self-control (restrained, self-disciplined)
  • Capability (competent, effective)
  • Courage (standing up for your beliefs)
  • Politeness (courteous, well-mannered)
  • Honesty (sincere, truthful)
  • Imagination (daring, creative)
  • Independence (self-reliant, self-sufficient)
  • Intellect (intelligent, reflective)
  • Broad-mindedness (accepting, open-minded)
  • Logical (consistent, rational)
  • Obedience (dutiful, respectful)
  • Helpfulness (working for the welfare of others)
  • Responsibility (dependable, reliable)
  • Forgiveness (willing to pardon others)

Thus, terminal values represent the overall goals of an individual’s life that he/she wants to achieve through his/her behavior. On the other hand, instrumental values are the methods an individual adopts to achieve terminal values.

In addition, terminal values are changeable, while instrumental values are permanent in nature, because they are the personal characteristics of an individual.

Some examples of terminal and instrumental values are as follows:

  • If the terminal value of an individual’s life is a comfortable life’, the instrumental values used for achieving this terminal value are ‘ambition’, ‘intellect’, and ‘capability’.

  • The terminal value of ‘wisdom’ can be achieved using the ‘logical’, ‘honesty’, and ‘intellect’ instrumental values.

  • If the terminal value is a world at peace, it can be attained using the instrumental values of being ‘forgiving’, ‘helpful’, and ‘polite’.

Apart from the above classification, values can also be categorized on the basis of different types of generations. These values are also called generation values. In an organizational setting, it is necessary to comprehend how employees of different generations perceive the world, what motivates them, and how they learn.

Knowledge of generational values facilitates a better understanding of an individual’s behavior in an organization.

Types of Generations and Values

The different types of generations and the values followed by them are discussed as follows:


This generation includes people born before 1945. These people faced World War II, and thus valued financial security, togetherness (teamwork), close family ties, long marital commitments, hard work, conservatism, and loyalty to their respective organizations.

Baby Boomers

This generation includes people born between 1946 and 1964. This was the time period after World War II when people were starting their life again after the disaster. Thus, these people valued success and ambition in their lives.

X Generation

This generation includes people who were born between 1965 and 1980. These people faced difficult financial and social times, thus, they focused on materialism. They valued material success, meaningful relationships, team orientation, and work-life balance.

Y Generation

This generation includes people born during 1981-2000. These people were familiar with the Internet and had a huge reservoir of information. Thus, the dominant values of such people are self-reliance, financial success, and synergy.

Z Generation

This generation includes people born after 2000. These times experienced immense advancement in technology and science, and a different approach to socialization and life-style developed. Thus, the values of these people include technological skills, the ability to multitask, flexibility, confidence, and diversity.

Attitudes in Organisational Behaviour

Attitude refers to the tendency of an individual to respond in a specific set of situations. It plays an important role in framing individual behavior.

According to various social psychologists, the attitude of an individual includes three main components, which are:

Cognitive Component

It is an evaluative component that is developed in an individual on the basis of his/her past experiences and memories. This component plays an important role in developing a perception of an incident before it happens.

For example, a person who has been betrayed by his/her friends and relatives may not trust anyone easily in the future.

Affective Component

It is a component that is responsible for building up the emotional set-up of an individual. The affective component expresses an individual’s likes or dislikes. For example, individuals may like their superiors so much that it might be a motivating factor for them to work hard.

Behavioural Component

It is a component that changes the way a person behaves in a situation. For example, individuals having feelings of hatred and dislike for their organization may show irritation and frustration toward others.

The attitude of an individual depicted at his/her workplace is known as job attitude. There are three major types of job attitudes, which are shown in the Figure:

Types of Job Attitudes

The different types of job attitudes are discussed as follows:

Job Satisfaction

It is a positive feeling that employees acquire in their jobs. An employee with high levels of job satisfaction feels happy to work in an organization. The productivity of such an employee is also high.

Job Involvement

It is the degree to which an individual finds himself associated with a particular job. Individuals generally relate their self-worth with the degree to which they are involved with their jobs.

Organizational Commitment

It is a situation wherein employees become associated with a particular organization and accept its vision, mission, philosophy, and goals. In such an organization, employees want to fulfill their duties in a very dedicated way to maintain a healthy relationship with the organization.

Organizational commitment is of three types, which are explained as follows:

Affective Commitment

It indicates that an employee is emotionally very attached to an organization. For example, an employee may be highly attached to an employer or his/her colleagues, and thus wishes to serve the organization in a better way

Normative Commitment

This indicates that employees work in an organization due to their priority towards ethics and morals. For example, a philanthropic person joins an NGO and feels great serving it, because he/she loves to help the needy.

Continuance Commitment

This indicates that employees wish to work in an organization because they feel that it is better to stay in an organization rather than leave it. Employees may do it because of monetary satisfaction, job profile, or any other reason.

Job Satisfaction in Organisational Behaviour

Job satisfaction is the positive attitude of an individual towards the different aspects of his/her job. Job satisfaction directly affects the behavior of an individual at the workplace. A satisfied individual remains in a positive mood and improves in areas of brainstorming, decision-making, and problem-solving at the workplace.

This not only improves his/her performance but also reduces stress and conflicts among the individuals in the organization.

  • Robbins, S.P., Judge, T.A., Sanghi, S. (2010). Essentials Of Organizational Behavior. Panchsheel Park, New Delhi: Dorling Kinders- ley (India) Pvt. Ltd.

  • Luthans, F. (2008). Organizational Behavior. New York: Mc- Graw-Hill Education.

  • Aswathappa, K. (2010). Organizational Behaviour. Mumbai: Himalaya Publishing House.

  • Brooks, I. (2007). Organisational Behaviour. Panchsheel Park, New Delhi: Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd.

  • Singh, K. (2010). Organizational Behaviour: Text and Cases. Panchsheel Park, New Delhi: Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd.

  • Ahmad, S. F., Gilkar, N. A., Darzi, J. A. (2008). Organisational Behaviour. Rajouri Garden, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Dis- tributors (P) Ltd

  • Individual Behavior in Organization. Retrieved from

  • Understanding and Managing Individual Behaviour. Retrieved from two-lec-4-12.pdf

Leave a Reply