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European Journal of Scientific Research

ISSN 1450-216X Vol.40 No.3 (2010), pp.450-460

© EuroJournals Publishing, Inc. 2010

Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded

Theory Strategy

Hasan Danaee Fard

Department of Management & Economics, Tarbiat Modares University (TMU)
E-mail: hdanaee@modares.ac.ir

Azar Eslami
M.S. of Human Resource Management
E-mail: a_islami@iums.ac.ir


The purpose of this study is to shape an organizational indifference theory through

inductive approach based on data collected from interviewees in Iran University of Medical
Sciences (IUMS).By using grounded theory for collecting the data, we theorize the process
of shaping organizational indifference. "In this theory, the "organizational ignorance to the
staff" is the central phenomenon; "managerial carelessness" is causal conditionS. The
manifestation of central phenomenon expressed in a set of actions and interactions, which
is referred to "poisoning the organizational atmosphere". On the other hand, either job un-
healthiness (context conditions) or inter- organizational elements (intervening conditions)
will stabilize and expand such a poisoning. The main consequence of this phenomenon is
"organizational indifference" leading to avoiding to accept responsibility, relative
compatibility with the disordered system, wasting time, job ignorance, passiveness, lack of
creativity, job un-willingness, slow working, organizational loath, and readiness to give up
the job and leave the organization. These conditions cause the individual to leave the
organization, and in case she/he has to stay (compulsory), the person would have no sense
of belongingness to the organization.

Keywords: Organizational indifference, grounded theory, open coding, axial coding,

selective coding

1. Introduction
Governmental organizations are the linkage between political administration and the society. The
performance of each will affect the legitimacy of political system. Despite changes that have occurred
in the public sector in recent years, low productivity of governmental organizations is still a major
concern of politicians and policymakers. Citizens' dissatisfaction in regards to the performance of some
governmental organizations, in addition to state supervision weaknesses necessitate that reasons for the
lack of conformity between the organizational objectives and staff objectives be elucidated.
Some organizational indicators like: a decline in attending to client demands, organization
services, control of moral and ethical aspects of staff, absence from work and/or leaving the job, work
environment accidents have also outstanding roles in this gap. One should concede that personnel are
the strategic assets of any organization. Employee's Indifference will decrease their motivation to
Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded Theory Strategy 451

work, hence, giving shape to indifference at the organizational level. A silence and disheartened staff
toward the fate and future of the organization and lack of effective understanding between staff and
management is an alarm that organization's function would be adversely affected, which in turn will
harm the society as a whole. Theorizing the phenomenon of indifference helps managers discover its
causes and eliminate them. The attempt, through this research, is to explore and investigate the
"organization indifference" using the grounded theory.
Although a theoretical model does not provide a final solution to organizational indifference,
but it can help managers identify the elements which can reduce indifference and forge a spirit of work
within the staff. Managers seeking administrative change at the university level as well as in the state
sector can compile a comprehensive plan to eliminate indifference. This theory helps organization
theorists to reach a tangible hypothesis within a broader study. Despite the importance of financial
structure of organization and its role in materializing organizational objectives, if by any reason,
human factors have no motive and willingness to work or cooperate, the organization will encounter
the problems in achieving its goals. So, investigating the reasons behind lack the motivation and a
common indifference among the staffs is crucial for managers and authorities. In this study, the
researcher will attempt to create the organizational indifference literature based on fundamental
conceptual theory. The objective of this research, the first of its kind, is to discover a new theory on
organizational indifference.
The main question of this research is: what is the theory of organizational indifference in
Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS)?

2. A Theoretical View towards the Phenomenon of Organizational Indifference

Organization is considered a social phenomenon, which has consciously been coordinated, has
relatively defined boundaries and acts based on a series of permanent basis. The phrase "consciously
coordinated" refers to management. "Social phenomenon" refers to an organization which has been
formed from people or groups which interact with each other. As a result, our definition about
organization explicitly requires the need to coordination in interaction models between individuals
(Robbins,1998, 21).Organizations are tools to coordinate group efforts for realizing certain objectives,
which is outside individual capacity, power and authority. An Organization can be considered to have
two main parts:
A Human side of the organization, which includes people who are running different activities of
the organization in different capacities, such as managers, experts, clerks, workers, …. etc
B Material side of the organization, which is divided into different parts and elements such as
the premises, equipment and machinery, raw material, financial potentials and information.
The ratio of these parts is dependent upon major and basic variables such as the "organization's
operation", "organization's objectives" and "organization's environment" (Mir hosseini zavareh, 1994,
One of the issues that are widespread in organizations but receive little attention, or better to
say receives no noticed at all, is the phenomenon of indifference in organizations. Indifference is a
slow process, which gradually emerges in people. People with this specific this characteristic dot not
care about the future, because as far as they are concerned, there is no difference between present,
future and past. Such persons have a low level of self- confidence and believe in utter humbleness is
their defense shield. With the passage of time, people have realized that entering into dialogue with
their senior would bear no result, because their superior would not listen to them, and even if they do
listen, the final result will be against them. Therefore, they take the orders (even unfair) without
showing any reaction or objection.Being aggressive and quarrelling is not always the best way to
adapt. Sometimes the indifference mode will demolish any interest. In such case, the individual
distances him/her self from disappointing factors or situations, and instead of an exciting response,
he/she apparently is indifference to barriers or (even) to his/her destiny (Azimi,1970,161-162).
Indifference is a psychosis condition, which points to an unhealthy personality. When a person is
452 Hasan Danaee Fard and Azar Eslami

exposed to stress arising from a threatening experience, escaping from which physically is impossible,
he/she starts to create a adept safeguard, turning into a mental monitor that looks at what his happening
to him/her with indifference and in cold blood (Chehrazi,1970,73).The scope of indifference in an
organization describes the behavior of someone who carries out the organization's activities without
using her/his talent or creativity. Naturally such an obedience which is far from interest might seem to
help maintain the organizational discipline, but will not encourage the employees to put more efforts,
accept responsibilities and show some creativity (Tabaeian, 2001). Thus, what causes the people to
surrender and become indifferent is profound and pro-longed dissatisfaction (Geezla, 1998, 136).
Indifference happens when one loses hope to accomplish his/her goals and tries to pull away
from source of his/her disappointment. Such phenomenon is the characteristic of those who have
repetitive and monotonous jobs, often giving in to the reality that there is no hope for improvement and
progress. A manager should keep in mind that wrangling, coming up with reasons, a return to
childhood, becoming accustomed and indifference are all the result of inability and failure which can
point to existence of problems (Rezaeian, 1999, 99).It should be noted that receiving reward motivates
the personnel and if no reward is considered for extra efforts in order to improve the function, it is
natural individual would grow indifferent even in using innovation to improve the responsibilities
delegated to him/her. Select a reward is very importing too. Considering the appropriate and valuable
incentive produces positive outcomes between management and personnel, because being supportive
will follow the job commitment in personnel.

3. Background of Research
There are little research about indifference in organization, but some studies are related to our topic,
that is used for better understanding of the phenomenon under research.Muse and his colleagues had
performed a study about the relationship between positive organizational behavior and work-life
incentives. They focused on the relationship between beneficial (and constructive) programs prepared
by the organization and the positive behavior of employees, and whether or not the personnel
understand the value of work-life benefit. According to the model used for the two different
organizations here and the results attained proved that preparing suitable and useful conditions at work
creates positive interaction between the employer and the employees because it generates a feeling of
having the organization's support, and thus forging commitment among individuals (Muse & et all,
2008, 171). Markovsky (1985) posited that when evaluating the rewards, individuals might not care
whether or not their rewards were correct or just, the reason for which might be their indifference
towards justice or equity and the judgment about the arbitrator (the source of reference). The
hypothesis is when individuals do not know the arbitrator, and in a way believe that he/she has low
credibility or information provided by him are either unreliable or of low quality.Gartrell & Paille
(1997) suggested the responsibility for eliminating or reducing reward would probably lead to further
indifference to the extent that the personal responsibility and choice for negative outcomes can
promote feelings of neutrality. Specifically, they suggest that responsibility would lead to elimination
or invalidation of the comparison between the reward and arbitration, which in Markovsky's words
would lead to Indifference.In their research on the impact of indifference on evaluation of justice,
Davison & Bing (2008) say that individuals may be predisposed to indifference towards fairness of
rewards. Their assumption was based on the fact that absence of the feeling neutrality or in a sense lack
of concentration on both inputs and outcomes, and thus lack of focus on the fairness of rewards, can be
consistent with the concept of indifference. This kind of conceptualization is also similar to the views
of Eisenberger and his colleagues (1986) on the issue of the "exchange of ideology".
Specifically, individuals with strong ideology of exchange exert much effort (inputs) congruent
with the organizational rewards (outcomes), in the sense that they work harder if they expect more
rewards. In contrast, individuals with a weak ideology of exchange exert a constant level of effort
(inputs) regardless of rewards (outcomes), and may not be as sensitive towards the exchange.
Impartiality sensitivity is like motivation in people having strong exchange ideology, and impartial
Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded Theory Strategy 453

people might not be affected by exchange and look like people with weak ideology in this respect
(Davison & Bing, 2008). Tahereh Rostamian (1999) in her thesis, titled " Inspection on neurotic strains
and it's role on staff function of Tarbiat Moddaress University" concluded that, the neurotic and
psychic pressure affect the function of employees. These affecting elements are categorized as
individual, organizational and environmental. Anxiety for job and family, social problems, economic
situation, management difficulties and organization's expectations from the employees cause the
individual to encounter anxiety, stress and worries, which are beyond and not compatible with the
person's capacity.

4. Methodology
This research is an interpretive and its philosophical foundation is based on phenomenology.
Interpretive research does not define dependent and independent variables in advance, and its
assumption is that access to social facts (realities) is only possible through social constructs such as
language, consciousness and sharing meanings. In another word, the "reality" is affect by human
mental characteristics. A reality which can't be considered independent from social structures, values
and facts. Interpretive studies try to understand the phenomena through interpretation, which are given
by people (Danaee Fard, 2004).
The general paradigm of this qualitative study based on a constructivist or naturalistic approach
which asserts reality is subjective and multi-faceted, constructed by researcher and participants
(Lincoln & Guba, 1985; cited by Jones). Understanding ontological, epistemological, methodological
stances suggested by Creswell (1994), was the first stage of this research. Collecting data, analyzing
data and shaping theory are others stages. In summery, grounded theory use three stage as following:
1) open coding (first stage)2) axial coding (second stage)3) selective coding (third stage).

5. Results
The researched organization is Iran University of Medical Sciences. According to data received from
statistical center of university, total number of official employees is 5378 (3133 female, 2245 male)
from which 141 are official staff personnel (101 female, 40 male). In this study, 40 samples were

5.1. First stage: OPEN CODING

Open coding is done through comprehending an event, labeling and a continuous comparison events.
In fact, it is an analysis process through which the concepts are acknowledged. Open coding stages are:
analysis and coding, categories discovery, categories explanation according to their characteristics. In
this research the open coding is presented in two parts; primary and secondary coding. In fact, after
collecting the key notes and concepts, 24 categories & 79 concepts are presented.Table 1,2,3,4,show
instances of open coding.Therefor, for avoiding offer detailed of all codes,we present four categorie
with some of their propertie(concepts,codes).
454 Hasan Danaee Fard and Azar Eslami
Table 1: Open coding (casual conditions: organizational carelessness)

Categories Concepts codes

• Ground for • Crisis of not recruiting responsible workforce
recruiting careless • Lack of importance shown by the employee to the job
workforce • Recruiting workforce passive towards system
• Carelessness • Gradual decline in the sense of responsibility toward the organization
toward • No attention to organization's objectives & strategy on the part of the
organization employee
• Declined in • Unwillingness in handling activities for receiving a fixed salary
motivation due to • Assurance on receiving monthly salary
fixed earning • Positive effect of variable earnings based on different activities
• Obedience of employee to orders
• Propagation of
• Refraining from making risks
yea-sir culture
• Training a workforce just to say "yes – sir"
• Decreasing • Lack of a required atmosphere to individual creativity and ideas to flourish
analysis ability of • Lack of motivation to present ideas in order to progress the objectives
affairs • Noticing the analytical ability and innovation as the outcome of motivation

Table 2: Open coding results (central category: organizational ignorance on personnel)

Categories Concepts codes

• Out-promotion to system
• Out- promotion- • Ignorance of inter-organization strength & qualifications (worthiness)
• Unawareness to the internal talented forces
• Loss of • Loss of substitution (alternative) system-
substitution • Increasing organizational depression by out- promotion (to) system
system • Decreasing the individual motivation due to no- future promotion
• Costly- based • wrong though about costly- based human resources
look to human • tools- look to the human resources
resources • necessity of attention to employee as the main capital
• Using connections & corporatism in personnel selection
• Existence of
• Choosing disqualified people for key positions
corporatism &
connections • Existence of corporatism and connections in selecting individuals not
• Stagnation in • harming the innovation and creativity by wrong selection
innovation as the • necessity of the presence of suitable personnel in appropriate positions
result of wrong • disrupting progress in achieving goals in by wrong selection
• lack of qualification system by selecting unsuitable people
• In- promotion and
• selecting doctors in irrelevant (and key_ positions
selection • lack of trust by the personnel towards the performance of the unspecialized
Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded Theory Strategy 455
Table 3: Actions & Interactions: Poisoning organization atmosphere

Category Concept codes

• Acceptance of wrong culture of rumor
Organizational • Propagating the wrong
• Colorful role of rumor in decreasing motivation in employees
rumor culture of rumor
• Effect of organizational hiding in creating & expanding rumor
• Increasing
• Creating atmosphere for
• Interfering the colleagues living among employees
anti – values
• Confirming this wrong culture & accepting it by the manager
displacement • The effective role of environment & manager in expanding
• Confirming the wrongdoer
• Encouraging & confirming the wrongdoer in the system
• Promotion of wrongdoer in organization
• Avoiding the technical • Manager's anxiety from growth & promotion of employee
growth & promotion of • Manager's anxiety of losing his/her position & try to protect it
• Creating concern for • Manager indifference to the system & employee
employee & dishonesty of • Dishonesty of manager to system
manager • Un dimensional impact & favoritism of manager
Separation of • The importance of honesty & rightness shown by manager
management • Manager avoidance in making connection & tlak to employee
from employees • Necessity of having relation & management psychological
• Necessity of bilateral
(understanding) of clerk & • Traditional distance (much) between manager & newly
boss employed personnel
• Attention to inter understanding between boss & personnel
• Necessity of having inter knowledge between manager &

Table 4: Open coding (consequences: organizational indifference)

Category Concept codes

• No sympathy to work
• Job thoughtlessly • Job ignorance
• Reduction In job conscience
• Time killing at organization
• time killing • Repetitive & unjustified absences
• Doing personnel affairs at working time
• Gradual decrease in analytical power & innovation of individual
• Thought depression
• Indifference to job progression or regression
• No definite goal & motivation
• Reluctance &
• Reluctance to perform the job & make it longer
• Indifference in performing the job on time
Organizational • Decrease in commitment moral & accepting responsibility
• Avoid to accept
Indifference • Refraining the responsibility due to severe control
• Disappointment to feeling responsibility
• Low self-esteem & self-imagination in employee
• Organizational disgust • Hate from existing conditions
• Dislike feeling for being at governmental section
• Relative understanding of organization situation
• Relative competence
• Employee's avoidance from impact (with organization)
with difficulties
• Relative competence with ill system
• Officially recruited is one factor to leave organization
• Ready to leave • Apparent faithfulness to organization along with job record
organization • Decision to leave or turnover employee from organization
• Try to continue education in order to change the job or workplace
456 Hasan Danaee Fard and Azar Eslami

5.2.Second step: Axial coding

The purpose of this stage is to set a relation between produced categories (at the open coding stage).
This action is done based on paradigm model, and help theorist (theoretician) perform theory process
easily. Communication process in axial coding is based expansion of one categories, (Danaee Fard,
2004, 60), as what is chosen as axial category in this research. Axial coding based on paradigm model
(complementary model) is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Axial coding paradigm model-based (picture of complementary model)

Causal Conditions:
Managerial Carelessness
-Weakness of performance
Context: Job Unhealthiness
evaluation system -Uncontrolled politicization
-Citizen/client ignorance -Organization miss- assumption
from organization's view -Job & holder dissimilarity
- Limited information -Imperfect bureaucracy
Central category: -Improper interpretation &
Organization execution regulations
Ignorance on
Out- assignment
Less attention to
personnel Actions & Interactions:
improvement Poisoning organization
Lack of employee's atmosphere
council (union) -Organizational rumor
-Values displacement
-Inter- organizational
-Organizational flattery
& obedience
-Management separation
from personnel
-Organizational isolation Outcome:
of personnel Organizational Indifference
Work carelessness
Time killing
Thought depression
Work disability & sluggish
Intervening conditions: Inter- Relative competence to system
Organizational Elements Avoiding responsibilities
-Organizational thoughtlessly Organizational dislike
-Dominant deficient structure Ready to leave organization
-Dominant financial in equity
-Less attention to employee's

5.3. Third Step: Selective Coding (Theorizing Stage)

Selective coding is the main stage of theorizing in a way that, it orderly connects the axial category to
other categories, proves it and corrects the categories which need more improvement and development.
In fact, the researcher by aligning the categories and based on their relation try to create an image. All
the techniques in fundamental theorizing theory lead to production of collected data-based. This theory
is a Middle-range, isolating descriptive and perceptional of a social process which has roots in inputs
(data).this producing theory process can result auditing ideas and cases to perform numerical research
as well. This theory could be expressed as branch of assumptions (main and subordinate) (Creswell,

5.3.1. Shaping Organizational Indifference Theory: A Narrative Description

Organization consists a group of human, technical, structural, cultural and other environment elements
that are interacting together to fulfill the determined and common objective. Regarding that, not
necessary organization objectives are in the same direction with individuals' interests, and even
motivationally people are different, the management role in balancing and effective use of individual's
Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded Theory Strategy 457

potential will be crucial. In fact, organization's personnel are the most important part of it and ignoring
their wills and fulfilling their requirement, will have both personnel and organization. The
organizational indifference explains the reasons (why) of behavior. The organizational indifference
should be looked upon (considered) as a destructive agent. Perhaps, the indifference could be called a
silent (quiet), consistent and noiseless crisis for organization. The question is this: why such a problem
arises? What causes the indifference in employees?
Organizational indifference theory expresses that: due to dominant management carelessness on
organization (government), some elements such as; weak assessing system of organizational
performance, ignoring citizen/client and lack of precise responding system in government section
hierarchy will reveal an ignorance feeling to individual (employees), and conditions such as: lack of
substitutionalizing, out- promotion or assigning unqualified individuals and less attention to job
improvement of personnel will confirm this feeling.
This organizational ignorance to personnel is accompanied by unhealthy government section
(dominant atmosphere) and intervening conditions such as: organizational carelessness culture and
policy and dominant financial conditions, which will end to poisoning organizational atmosphere
(action and interaction).Of these conditions are; propagation of rumor, internal distrust, separation of
management from personnel and organizational isolation of employees. The result and outcome of this
organization atmosphere poisoning, is organizational indifference phenomenon.

Figure 2: Organizational Indifference Theory

Context:Work Unhealthiness

Existing condition: Actions & Reaction: Outcome:
category: Poisoning the
Management Organization
Organization Organization
Carelessness Atmosphere al
Ignorance to

Intervening conditions:
Organizational Inter-

6. Discussion and Conclusion

In this research, sources such as: interviewing the personnel, assessing (evaluating) the documents and
evidences, have been used in order to gather information (data). The time taken to collect the inputs
(data) and reach the research theory is 9 months. The outputs (outcomes) of this research is given to
companions and the text have been studied by them and their views been applied. Since the auditing
method in this research has been "interview", the derived categories, were shown to interviewees to
confirm the subject accuracy. The technique for verification of theory was member check.cerating
literature is central outcome of grounded theory research.table 5 is outcome of our research that explain
indifference in organizations.
458 Hasan Danaee Fard and Azar Eslami
Table 3:

Elements of paradigms model Categories of present research

Casual Conditions Managerial Carelessness
Central category Organization Ignorance on Personnel
context Job Unhealthiness
Intervening conditions Inter- Organizational Elements
Actions & Interactions Poisoning organization atmosphere
consequences Organizational Indifference

6.1. Theoretical Propositions

Theoretical propositions explain generalize relation between main category with other selected
categories. Propositions contain of conceptual relation and formed (shaped) from structures. However,
hypothesis require measuring related and formed from variables, and because of the grounded theory
approach produce conceptual relations (not measuring), so using the phrase of proposition is preferred.
In this study, on the bases of research story and model of organizational indifference theory, 6
hypotheses are proposed.
Proposition 1: Management carelessness includes: evaluation system weakness, ignoring
citizen/client from point of organization view, and limitation in information
which cause organizational ignorance to personnel.
Proposition 2: Out-assignment, favoritism, organizational unfairness, less attention to personnel
improvement and lack of employee's council (union) will poison the
organizational atmosphere.
Proposition 3: Organizational ignorance, dominant deficient structure, dominant financial un
equity and less attention to personnel welfare as interfering conditions will affect
poisoning organization atmosphere.
Proposition 4: Organizational rumor, value displacement, inters- organization distrust,
separation between manager and personnel and employee organizational
isolation are of those international actions and reactions which cause
organizational indifference.
Proposition 5: Organizational indifference is the outcome and result of organization poisoning
atmosphere. In fact, ignoring and time killing, thought depression and disability,
relative competence with system and avoiding (disregarding) responsibilities
cause dislike (hate) in individual and make him/her ready to leave organization.
Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded Theory Strategy 459

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