O.B Individual Assignment Cults 1136720

destiny margaritha

View Profile

cults have a lot in common with organizations  that follow the principles of organizational behavior. lets analyze this phenomenon together


 When you think of the subject of organizational behavior the first things that might come to mind are corporations, management within a particular business or teams or even sports.

But there is way more to  organizational behavior than just the obvious aspects. In fact. If you learn enough about this concept you could become the perfect cult leader.

 How so? Let's unpack this together.

definition of a cult

What is a cult anyway? 

A quick google search defines it as a “ a social group that is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs and rituals, or its common interest in a particular personality, object, or goal”

 This definition leaves out how organized and structured cults usually are  but it is apparent from the countless examples of cults we’ve had over the years that they are not just a group of people aimlessly professing their beliefs, they are highly organized and mostly have a  hierarchical structure. With the cult Leader at the top.

Now what are the similarities between a cult and an organization practicing e principles of organizational behavior?

 Well let us examine 3 of the most infamous cults and tie their behavior to what we can learn in organizational behavior

The People's Temple jonestown

Let's start with a factor that is key if you want to run a successful organization and cult. Strong leadership. James Warren Jones also known as Jim Jones was the leader of the people’s temple church. What made him powerful was his ability to influence people toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals. He did this with his captivating and charismatic personality. Furthermore he had a vision that a lot of people could get on board with. His church was multiracial which was still a little unheard of for the 60’s and 70’s and he had  alot of young college educated flowers which make him seem more legitimate in what he was preaching. After all, if he can convince well- educated people of his beliefs he must be on to something good right? 

 This same personality type defines modern day leaders; they are often charismatic and possess the ability to move people. But  Based on the trait theories of leadership discussed in chapter 12 of the book organizational behavior by .. there are other personality traits that can predict a leader, particularly: extraversion, conscientiousness and openness.  Jim Jones possessed all these traits. He was open and creative enough to allow all sorts of people within the church and so extraverted that everyone gravitated to his energy. Furthemore he was thorough and did his best to improve and expand his church in many different ways which proves his conscientiousness. Modern day leaders could learn a thing or two from jim jones, minus the cyanide laced kool-aid of course.


 The next cult and organizational behavior  relationship we will be discussing is the idea of social identity. The Rajneeshees were a group of formerly India based followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.  They had a very strong sense of social identity and would demonstrate that   through the way they spoke to the way they all dressed in the same range of red and purple colors. As chapter 9 of our book on Organizational Behavior points out:” people have emotional reactions to the failures and successes of their group because their self esteem gets tied to whatever happens in the group”. When things are good your self esteem gets boosted, but if your group is somehow humiliated or disrespected it's easy to allow or even endorse questionable behavior to get even. This was certainly the case for the Rajneeshees. When they had bought and built their commune in the town of Antelope they were all very proud to identify with the group who changed  a “ desert to an oasis” as one former member reported. But when they needed to put up with persecution and un willingness from their eighbors o coexist they did alot of things to try to get back at the ones hurting the group from, mild harassment to attempted murder. As is demonstrated by this example this aspect of organizational behavior is a powerful tool but must be monitored closely to avoid bad things from happening.

Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ

 The next cult is still active to this day. The ICGJC is an organization that identifies as a black supremacy group.  They only allow black people in their church and they believe white people come from the devil.  This cult reflects organizational behavior because of the tiers and ranks within the organization.  Their newly recruited members are referred to as servants. When you move up in the ranks you can become an officer and then a lieutenant.  These characteristics are also examined within the sphere of organizational behavior. And when organizational structure is mentioned it is mostly in the context of functional divisional or matrix structures. But the hierarchical structure of this cult definitely influences how its members behave within it. For example in order to avoid being demoted for having  an inappropriate relationship with another member an officer escorted to silencing her forever. Because of this in his  worldview it was less harmful to kill someone than to love the prestige of his position within the cult. 


So as we can see there are a lot of similarities between cults and the organizations applying the principles of organizational behavior. This just goes to show you have to be careful because you never know what trap you could be falling into. Is it a wholesome organization? Or a cult?


No comments

Similar List

No similar lists found!