Fire and Rescue Services: Organizational Behaviour

Introduction

A fire tragedy and its corresponding rescue operations often provide an avenue where issues of human behavior originate. It is during such events that human character is made manifest about the organizational structure. Under normal circumstances, tragedies involving fire attract rescue and evacuation operations. During such a time the character of the organization is exposed by the way individuals and teams respond to the turn of events. Bearing in mind that such events have no warnings, the spontaneous response by the respective people or groups is subject to observation. However, the first reaction to such events usually involves panic and surprise. As the tragedy takes its toll on human life, health, and property a mixture of emotions emanate which ultimately form the first response of the event.

It is therefore evident that shock contributes to the initial human response to a crisis. Another challenging aspect worth noting is the urgent need for leadership to provide guidance and inspiration during times of confusion. During such times the essence and significance of leadership come to light. Leaders find themselves in trouble when they realize the magnitude of expectations suddenly bestowed upon them by the tragedy. This brings in the role played by the organizational structures. The design and operation of the organizational structure become more crucial in case of emergencies. The culture and soul of the organization reveal its effectiveness to handle a crisis. Crisis management is therefore a crucial component of day to day existence of the organization. A failure or poor response mechanism has a lot to say about the design and model of the organization and its operations.

In the long run, it boils down to communicational processes, motivational techniques, organizational culture, perception of employees, and relationships within groups. An organization is made up of employees and their leaders bound together by the established values of the organization. Any deviation from the norm inhibits the effectiveness of the organization. The prevailing environment in the organization determines its viability as well as its chances of success.

Historical perspective of organizational behavioral issues

Human behavior has been subject to divergent views since the days of yore. Organizational behavior is therefore not new in the field of human relations. Organizational behavior can be described as the analysis and use of knowledge of the group and individual activities in organizations. As a discipline, it aims at striking harmony between the individual and the organization’s success. Under this arrangement, the individuals in the organization achieve their dreams as they work towards the vision of the organization. Organizational behavior, therefore, covers a wide spectrum of fields. It involves several parameters which include: leadership, groups, and individuals. This makes it an umbrella concept within which many factors associated with organizations lie (Ohya, Utsumi & Yamato 116).

Human behavior in an organization has a long history. The concept is not new and enjoys a large background of theories and philosophies. Organizational behavior can be traced back to the publications of philosophers in the 16th century. Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher was among the first to explore the concept. Others who made meaningful contributions to the idea include Plato who mainly focused on leadership. Aristotle also made a credible impact on the evolution and development of the entire concept and his idea was mainly concentrated on communication.

Role of individuals and teams in the organization

People are the cornerstone of the organization. In fact, in every aspect, the organization remains directly dependant on its human resources and its clients and stakeholders. Whether at an individual level or in groups people are the most significant asset of an organization. It is therefore a fact that without people there will be no organization. However, the most significant aspect of people in the organization lies at the individual level. This is so because groups are made up of individuals. Therefore the individuals are the basic organizational unit. Individual performance; perception, conduct, and objectives affect the entire functioning of the organization. Organizational behavior, therefore, starts with individual behavior. To track and influence organizational behavior one has to focus on individuals and their respective perceptions. Individual perceptions and preferences have since the days of yore influenced organizational decisions as well as culture. It is no doubt that the individual approach is the traditional concept of organizational human behavior. As far as response to events of emergency is concerned an individual responds faster than a group. It takes no time to decide to move something or do something by an individual unlike in groups. Things work faster in a scenario where events are handled at an individual level. Groups take a long to make decisions thus delaying action. Furthermore, groups experience several hiccups like communication, motivation, unity among other factors and all these make them less effective (Manent & Elshtain 64-97).

Teams have in the recent past emerged and have increasingly become popular in organizations. Modern organizations have emphasized the significance of teams and not individuals in approaching the various tasks in the organizations. With the increasing trends of decentralization and reduction of unnecessary procedures, teams are becoming more effective in organizations. More tasks are being entrusted to groups than individuals. The inception of groups has seen tremendous performance being witnessed in modern organizations. With the growth in technology, more focus is given to systems and not to the individual making teamwork to fair on quite well. Groups however are not the solution to organizational ineffectiveness. Teamwork in itself is not so easy to handle, groups can sometimes be grossly ineffective. Teams have been known to encourage irresponsible behavior. Accountability is another aspect, in that it becomes difficult to account for and assign responsibility for the ineffectiveness of a group. Mob psychology or group madness is one aspect associated with teams in which recklessness becomes rampant. Groups and teams can highly be detrimental to the objectives and existence of the company (Robbins 214-234).

Case study on London Subway fire rescue services

The fire tragedy at the London subway station killed more than thirty people and injured eighty more people. The entire scene was filled with panic and confusion as the whole place was set in ablaze. Most people willing to offer a helping hand were incapacitated by the shock and surprise of the unfolding events. Many travelers were caught unawares as they bought tickets for their respective journeys. The scene was dominated by people burning and wailing for help which evolved mixed emotions from the rescuers and also from passers-by. The victims were desperate to find escape routes and were seen crawling in vain with little support. There was a stampede with people running for their lives, walking over their counterparts. Smoke was everywhere as the entire station blew in flames.

Poor emergency services at the underground station were to blame for the deaths and casualties of the inferno. If only the subway could have responded with speed the fire could have been averted and more lives saved. The cause of the fire is another aspect indicating how poor organizational structures can either accelerate the severity or mildness of a disaster. A wooden escalator was the source of the entire blaze. Fire extinguishing gadgets were nowhere in the vicinity. Furthermore the design and structure of the subway limited movements of people making rescue operations difficult. Members of the City fire brigade searched everywhere for victims trapped in the buildings. Smoke inhalation was one major cause of the deaths closely followed by severe burns. Too much heat and darkness affected the rescue efforts making it difficult to reach and save the victims trapped in the building and those who were in the basement of the subway lost their lives.

The rescue services were timely but ineffective as a result of several factors. First and foremost is the poor design and structure of the subway. This made it difficult for rescue operations to be effective. It is no wonder that rescuers lamented smoke, heat, and darkness citing them as hindrances to their efforts. Secondly, Subway’s poor emergency mechanism made it impossible for the response to be effective. It can therefore be comfortably said that the subway had no fire safety devices or crisis support mechanism. Every organization is supposed to have a well-planned emergency response mechanism to cater to emergencies. A good organizational structure should involve established crisis management mechanisms. Failure to take care of emergencies long before they occur can be fatal for an organization.

Evaluation and analysis of human behavior

Human behavior is a topic that attracts a wide range of attention and opinion. Under normal circumstances, behavior is a personalized action that spontaneously emanates from an individual. At a basic level, human behavior is not intended for public consumption or attention. However human behavior is influenced by quite a several factors. These include attitudes, values, emotions, ethics, and culture. From the above phenomenon, it is evident that an organization depends on its people without which it cannot operate. The patterns of behavior manifested by people, therefore, are of great significance to the organization’s endeavors. Response to the fire tragedy was very slow hindering the process of saving lives and managing the crisis. This brings about the concept of motivation. Human behavior is tied to motivation; human beings owe their actions to factors that motivate them. Another crucial aspect is culture. Human beings manifest character and behavior along cultural lines (Miner, B 43-45).

The importance of organizational culture cannot, therefore, be underestimated. Employees must be made to be one thing in thought and action. To have a perfect organizational culture an organization needs to establish its values about its objectives. In summary human organizational behavior can be said to be affected by various aspects which include: Technical factors which involve the place where people operate from. Physiological issues are factors that relate to adaptation and environment. Moral factors include motivation, skills, and awareness. The social factors on the other hand involve family, class, and the external environment (Kreutzer & Kinicki 263).

External environmental factors

Apart from the internal setup of an organization, its relationship with the external environment is of great significance. The organization cannot by any means operate without the external world. This brings into focus the important role played by the external environment in any organization. From a starting point, the employees of any firm represent the organization to the customers, suppliers, and the public at large. This is so because the organization acts through people. The objectives of the organization cannot be achieved without the involvement of the external environment. An organization gets its suppliers from outsiders; it sells its commodities to the outside world. It is therefore imperative that the relationship between the company and the outside world has to be enhanced (Osland, Kolb, Rubin & Turner 96-101).

Appraisal of organization’s management

Management is endowed with the task of getting things done and handling the day-to-day activities of the organization. In times of crisis, its role skyrockets to more expectant levels as the lower stratum of the organization looks to it for leadership. Decision making is the most crucial yet critical role of management. The organisation is run by decisions that are made by the top management of the organization. The influence of power politics in the decision making of the organization is a key aspect. Decision making being the core responsibility of the organization, plays a critical role in influencing human behavior in the organization. However for the organization to develop a proper blend of organizational culture, change and conflict management mechanisms have to be embraced by the organization (Slocum & Hellriegel 49-61).

Conclusion

Fire tragedy and is subsequent rescue services form a perfect environment for the analysis of human behavior. In fact during times of crisis human beings elicit their real behavioral patterns thus proving a perfect scenario for constructive analysis. It can therefore be deduced that human behavior in organizations is influenced by a variety of factors. Parameters like communication, attitude, perception and culture form the cornerstone of human behavioral patterns. These are the aspects which determine the nature of behavior to be manifested by the employees. However another major factor is organizational structure. To a large extent human behavior is influenced by the structure and format of the organization. Above all else the external environment plays a crucial role in the behavioral endeavours of the employees. It is therefore evident that organizational behavior is a major component of the organization. The factor is subject to the influence of a variety of parameters within and outside the organizational set up.

Works Cited

Kreutzer, Robert and Kinicki, Angelo. Organisational Behaviour. New York: McGraw- Hill, 2001.

Manent, Pierre and Eshtain, Jean. The City of Man. USA: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Miner, John. Organisational Behaviour: From Theory to Practice. USA: Sharpe, 2007.

Ohya, Jun and Yamato, Junji. Analyzing Video Sequences of Multiple Humans: Tracking, Posture Estimation and Behaviour Recognition. USA: Springer, 2002.

Osland, Sauters and Turner, Marlene. Organisational Behaviour: An Experiential Approach. USA: Prentice Hall, 2007.

Robbins, Stephen. Organisational Behaviour. USA: Prentice Hall, 2001.

Slocum, John and Hellriegel, Don. Organisational Behaviour. USA: Cengage Learning, 2007.