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Research Methods of Micro Organizational Behavior


Micro organizational behavior (micro OB) and social psychology have shared a strong and fruitful relationship that has been gaining in strength for many years. There are many reasons for social psychologists and micro OB researchers to better understand this blossoming bond between the two fields. First, micro OB is a close theoretical and empirical cousin to social psychology. Micro OB methods rely on many principles of social psychology while exhibiting some important differences. Second, micro OB research has been dramatically on the rise. The behavioral side of management has taken center stage as businesses look beyond the numbers to issues such as leadership and motivation to understand successful organizations. Finally, social psychologists and micro OB researchers inform one another's research. There is ample room for fruitful collaboration between social psychologists and micro OB researchers, and a better understanding of micro OB helps make this collaboration easier. The purpose of this chapter is to provide the reader with a top-down tour of the key theoretical, empirical, and methodological questions in micro OB research and how they are addressed from a design standpoint. We begin by conceptualizing where micro OB falls within the general field of organizational behavior (OB). We follow with a brief comparison of micro OB to social psychology. Next, we trace the development of a micro OB research project employing an experimental methodology. We then discuss the three most common types of methodologies in micro OB research focusing on two primary considerations: the research site (classroom, field, or laboratory) and the nature of the research design (correlational, experimental, or qualitative). In this section, we also identify some of the most important methodological challenges faced by researchers in the field. Finally, we conclude by attempting to dispel some of the more common myths held about micro OB research.


Book Chapter


Leigh Thompson, Mary C. Kern, Denise Loyd

Date Published



Thompson, Leigh, Mary C. Kern, and Denise Loyd. 2003. Research Methods of Micro Organizational Behavior.


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