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MGHB02H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Reinforcement, Expectancy Theory, Gelting

Management (MGH)
Course Code
Brian Connelly
Study Guide

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What Is Learning?
Previously discussed that people’s personality can influence their work attitudes and behaviours. How-
ever, people’s experiences and the work environment also have a strong effect on attitudes and behav-
Learning: A relatively permanent change in behaviour potential that occurs due to practice or experience
Types of Skills that are Learned in Organizations by Employees:
Practical skills includes job-specific skills, knowledge and technical competence
Intrapersonal skills are skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, learning about al-
ternative work processes and risk taking
Interpersonal skills include interactive skills such as communicating, teamwork, and con-
flict resolution
Cultural awareness involves learning the social norms of organizations and understanding
company goals, business operations and company expectations and priorities
Learning Theories - how people learn in organizations
Operant Learning Theory: Learning by which the subject learns to operate on the environment to achieve
certain consequences
Remember, rat in a box experiment. The rat learned to operate the lever to achieve food, thus be-
haviour was controlled by the consequences that follow it.
Increasing the Probability of Behaviour
One of the most important consequences that influence behaviour is reinforcement.
Reinforcement: The process by which stimuli strengthen behaviours. A reinforcer is a stimulus that fol-
lows some behaviour and increases or maintains the probability of that behaviour.
Types of Reinforcements:
Positive Reinforcement: The application or addition of a stimulus that increases or
maintains the probability of some behaviour
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Example: the food pellets for the rat were positive reinforcements for the operation of
the lever
Weather or not something is a positive reinforcement depends only on whether it in-
creases or maintains the occurrence of some behaviour by its application
Negative Reinforcement: The removal of a stimulus that in turn increases or maintains the
probability of some behaviour (also, negative reinforcement occurs when a response pre-
vents some event or stimulus from occurring)
Negative reinforces are usually unpleasant stimuli and it stands to reason that we will
learn to repeat behaviours that remove or prevent these stimuli
Example: the rat who experiences a shock will learn to operate the lever to prevent the
Review pg. 50
Organizational Errors Involving Reinforcement
Confusing Rewards with Reinforcement
Managers reward employees with pay, promotion, vacation etc., for no specific behaviour - such
rewards can fail to serve as reinforcers
Neglecting Diversity in Preferences for Reinforcement
Organizations fail to appreciate individual difference in preferences for reinforcers
For example, workaholic’s receive extra time off from work for good behaviour
Neglecting Important Sources of Reinforcement
Managers cannot determine the cause of the behaviour even after the consequences of the behav-
iour were communicated
An important source of reinforcement that managers often ignore is information that accompanies
the successful performance of tasks
Performance Feedback: Providing quantitative or qualitative information on past performance
for the purpose of changing or maintaining performance in specific ways
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