Behavior Modification Techniques in the Business Environment


Behavior modification techniques in the business environment are concerned with guiding, encouraging and manipulating an employee's behavior to better accommodate the business's main objective. Examples involving behavior modification techniques within the business environment include operant conditioning, the variable-ratio schedule, the Hawthorne effect, implementing ceremonies and setting goals to guide behavior.

Operant Conditioning

The research of B.F. Skinner, an American psychologist, showed that pigeons who were put on a very low-calorie diet and always in a state of hunger could be engineered to learn differences between words through reward reinforcement using food. For example, pigeons discovered that pecking in a certain way resulted in food being provided. The behavior could then be reinforced and modified based on scheduled recurrences of reward reinforcement. Practically speaking, an employer implementing a reward reinforcement program delivered in various intervals could modify the behavior of his employees in line with the company's agenda.

Variable-Ratio Schedule

A variable-ratio schedule is based on the architecture of reward reinforcement (operant conditioning). A practical example implementing a variable-ratio schedule is gambling. A variable-ratio schedule in this illustration involves facilitating the continued occurrence of gambling in casino customers. Casinos might schedule a monetary payout from their machines at certain intervals, but the schedule is unknown to the gambler, which incrementally rewards the behavior of gamblers. The casino's desired end result is to modify a person's behavior to gamble, which favors the casino's agenda, and to prolong the opportunity to extract more money from customers.

Hawthorne Effect

Behavior modification techniques in the business environment include the Hawthorne effect. The Hawthorne effect within business environments concerns the social dynamics of employees who feel they are being watched, and how that "feeling" facilitates an increase in job performance. Businesses managing their employees are concerned with modifying behavior congruent with making their business more profitable. Obvious examples include the micromanager who makes micro adjustments to an employee's behavior particular to the business' main objective.

Implementing Ceremonies

Behavior modification techniques in the business environment often implement ceremonies and activities involving an employee's physical-emotional involvement while inserting the business's mission statement and employee expectations into the emotionally amplified event. This creates a sort of emotional investment on the employee's part, which also heightens her suggestibility. An example of this is when a company implements a "More than just an're family" message to better assimilate employees into a profit-seeking organizational culture.

Setting Goals to Guide Behavior

Behavior modification techniques in the business environment include the correct implementation of setting goals to guide and modify behavior. As soon as an employee simply attempts to accomplish a goal designed by a manager; then the employee's behavior has been instantly modified specific to the business's agenda, as oppose to the employee's.

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