Why do people behave in the way they do?


Why do people behave the way they do? Okay, we want to limit ourselves here to behavior in organizations.
There is the reoccurring discussion of the ‘one bad apple’ that brings a good company to its knees: ‘The one rogue trader, the one fraudulent salesman, the one overly creative CFO.’
Folks, this is propaganda.
It’s not that one bad apple that brings the organization down, it’s the organization’s culture that let that one bad apple develop, occur, tolerate, even flourish.
It is our conviction that people’s behavior is to 90% dictated by the surrounding culture and 10% by their upbringing.
Basic needs, traits, attitudes, etc., etc. may seemingly influence behavior but the surrounding culture dictates the way the behavior plays out and manifests itself in the social context.
So, if your people behave in ways that seem adverse to the organization’s performance or public image it’s high time to have a good look at the organization’s culture before wholesale layoffs.
It’s an old saying, that if you do not manage the organization’s culture you get the one (culture) you deserve, and in that people behave according to that culture.
This view is further supported by system dynamics’ underlying dictum ‘structure dictates behavior’ – culture is structure.
And we strongly believe all the other factors – basic needs, traits, etc. – are noise.
Upbringing/education may play an out-sized role in that noise as it has been shown that people with  critical thinking education/upbringing have been able to impact on a culture that started to violate norms of acceptable values.

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