Chapter 8 Learning and Decision Making
LEARNING AND DECISION MAKING
Learning: a relatively permanent change in an employee’s knowledge or skills that result from
Decision making: the process of generating and choosing from a set of alternatives to solve a
WHY DO SOME EMPLOYEES LEARN TO MAKE DECISIONS BETTER THAN
Expertise: the knowledge and skills that distinguish experts from novices.
TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE
Employees learn two basic types of knowledge:
o Explicit knowledge: knowledge that is easily communicated and available to everyone.
Easily transferred through written or verbal communication
Readily available to most
Can be learned through books
o Tacit knowledge: knowledge that employees can only learn through experience
Very difficult to articulate to others
Highly personal in nature
Based on experience
Typically job/situation specific
METHODS OF LEARNING
Managers use various methods of reinforcement to induce desirable or reduce undesirable
behaviours by their employees.
Antecedent Behaviour Consequence
Conditions that Action Result that
precedes performed by occurs after
behaviour employee behaviour
specific and Employee meets Employee
difficult goals assigned goal receives a bonus Contingencies of reinforcement: four specific components used by organizations to modify
o Positive reinforcement: a reinforcement contingency in which a positive outcome
follows a desired behaviour.
o Negative reinforcement: a reinforcement contingency in which an unwanted outcome
is removed by following a desired behaviour.
o Punishment: an unwanted outcome that follows an unwanted outcome that follows an
o Extinction: the removal of a positive outcome following an unwanted behaviour.
Positive reinforcement and extinction should be the most common forms of
reinforcement to create learning among their employees.
Schedules of reinforcement: the timing of when contingencies are applied or removed.
o Continuous reinforcement: a schedule of reinforcement in which specific consequences
follows each and every occurrence of a certain behaviour.
o Fixed-interval schedule: a schedule whereby reinforcement occurs at fixed time periods.
o Variable-interval schedule: a schedule whereby reinforcement occurs at random periods
o Fixed ratio schedule: a schedule whereby reinforcement occurs following a fixed
number of desired behaviours.
o Variable-ratio schedule: a schedule whereby behaviours are reinforced after a varying
number of them have been exhibited.
o Variable schedules lead to higher levels of performance than fixed schedules .
Social learning theory: theory that argues that people in organizations learn by observing others.
o Behavioural modelling: when employees observe the actions of others, learn from what
they observe and then repeat the observed behaviour.
The modelling process:
Attentional Retention Production Reinforcement
Processes Processes Processes
The learner must
Learner focuses Learner must Learner must have view the model
attention on the remember the the appropriate receiving
critical behaviours behaviours of the skill set and be able reinforcement for
exhibited by the model once the to reproduce the the behaviour and
model model is no longer behaviour then receive it
present themselves GOAL ORIENTATION
Learning orientation: a predisposition or attitude according to which building competence is
deemed more important by an employee than demonstrating competence.
Performance-prove orientation: a predisposition or attitude by which employees focus on
demonstrating their competence so that others will think favourably of them.
Performance-avoid orientation: a predisposition or attitude by which employees focus on
demonstrating their competence so that oth