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Penny Hannah

Nottinghamshire County Council

Community Support Services Administrator

Read more about Penny Hannah

Book Review: Organisational behaviour for dummies


This book by Cary Cooper, Lynn Holdsworth and Sheena Johnson is a comprehensive exploration of everything related to individual and group behaviour as well as the impact of such dynamics on the wider business/organisation.

As a result, it would be beneficial to start with a definition of what the term ‘organisational behaviour’ actually means:
“Organisational behaviour is a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structure have on behaviour within organisations for the purpose of applying such knowledge toward improving an organisation’s effectiveness.” 
The book itself, meanwhile, is split into six main parts:
1. Getting to grips with organisational behaviour
This section acquaints the reader with the concept of OB and helps to clarify the role of psychology in the workplace. It provides a strong introduction that captures the interest without overwhelming you with a subject that can be mind-boggling at times.
2. All about the employee
This chunk explores the needs of individual employees as well as how people work together in teams. It also looks at the negative effects (including generating stress) that work can have on individuals and how they can combat such issues.
The aim is to help the reader understand what makes us ‘tick’ as employees, how we work together and what we need in order to function effectively. The discussion centres on how our attitudes and beliefs affect our behaviour in the workplace and there is a very informative chapter on health and wellbeing and how to avoid stress.
3. All about the employer
Here the book evaluates leadership issues and explores different theories about motivation. It also navigates readers through the subjects of fairness, equality and diversity in the workplace. But even if you aren’t employer, be careful not to skip this part as it sheds light on a lot of things that influence your working life.
4. All about the organisation
This segment focuses on organisational culture and how it influences workers, but it also deals with the nature of change, explaining how organisations and individuals tend to deal with it and suggesting options for how to navigate through it.
How jobs can be redesigned in order to boost staff motivation is likewise discussed and there is an interesting chapter on working virtually.
5. All about hiring and developing people
The content on recruitment, selection and hiring the right people for your team/organisation is robust. But this section also explores staff retention issues, which include assessments and appraisals, and provides a very good chapter on training and development.
6. The part of tens
This portion of the book is devoted to ‘top 10s’ and provides an at-a-glance guide to hot OB topics, offering 10 tips or facts on a variety of subjects. In my opinion, the chapter on ‘10 tips for managing your manager’ shouldn’t be missed – it investigates the ‘boss-subordinate’ relationship and why it’s important to work on it.
Reviewer’s rating
As with many of the ‘Dummies’ series, the title of this book doesn’t do justice to the quality of its content. In my opinion, you could just pick up it and read the bit that you are interested in (although I would challenge you to put it down once you’ve started), making it an excellent reference book to have on the shelf. 
I would consider it an all-encompassing guide to the subject and a must for aspiring and new managers – even some established managers could probably learn a thing or two.
An array of different theories from prominent psychologists are examined and explained by describing them and providing working examples, breaking them down in such a way as to make the subject matter easy for people to understand.
You could be forgiven for assuming that you are likely to get ‘bogged down’ in jargon and long-winded explanations, but the authors keep things very succinct.
Some readers may also be pleased to see that the UK version of the book is written very much from a British perspective and is, thankfully, missing some of the complicated jargon used in other books of its genre.
On a practical note, the book is well laid out, with a clear, easy-to-read font and a key table for icons, which provides examples, tips, warnings and things to remember. There are also tables of information that list the advantages and disadvantages of different methods.
  • Clear layout, easy to read, appeals to visual learners
  • Written in easy-to-understand English and gives readers a good selection of theories in order to give them a broad view of the subject.
  • I think I can fairly say that there wasn’t anything I disliked about this book.
I would unreservedly give this work a 10 out of 10 and consider it a must-have for anyone experiencing or leading change – or for anyone remotely interested in their own and other’s behaviour in the workplace. I will definitely be keeping it on my bookshelf.
  • This book was reviewed for us by Penny Hannah, admin support for Nottinghamshire County Council‘s community support services.
  • If you’d like to see a film, TV or book review of your own in print, please either send it to the editor at [email protected] or post it directly to our blogs section at based on the format above.
  • We also have a book club area, which provides a list of possible works for review too – all you have to do is email the editor as above, have the book of your choice sent out to you and we’ll publish the review for the rest of the community to read when you’re done.
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Penny Hannah

Community Support Services Administrator

Read more from Penny Hannah

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