Organisational boundaries and determinants of behaviour in organisations : a situational analysis : a conceptual and empirical inquiry into the determinants of behaviour of organisational members having direct contact with an organisation's exterior, emphasising the perception of situations which occur in work routines
This study is concerned with furthering an understanding of the behaviour of organisational boundary personnel, or more exactly, with how boundaries act as psychological environments. The study has two complementary aims: to describe the psychological environment encountered by boundary personnel and to offer a theoretical model of the organisation as a psychological environment, the latter being a prerequisite of the former. It is held that a social psychological perspective is needed which can deal adequately with organisations as antecedent conditions of behaviour, and that situational analysis offers a useful social psychological framework for this purpose. The empirical investigation is an initial descriptive study of the psychological environment encountered by boundary personnel. It is argued that initial descriptive studies are necessary when dealing with largely unstudied phenomena, and that this stage in the scientific process has often been undervalued by social psychologists. A diary analysis followed by interviews were used to elicit a range of situations encountered by boundary personnel having direct and frequent contact with customers and clients. Four organisations were studied, each having a different primary task. A self-completion questionnaire was administered to elicit judgemental data, using the situations as stimuli. Multidimensional scaling was applied to analyse the data, treated as four sub-sets. This yielded the dimensions underlying each data set and the representation of situations according to these dimensions in each case. The results suggest that three common dimensions (formality, anxiety and socio-emotionality) underlie the cognitive representations of boundary personnel, and that the psychological environment encountered is complex. A taxonomy of situations is constructed and several important hypotheses relating to the psychological environment of boundary personnel formulated. Implications for future research are discussed.