Reinforcement theory of motivation

This theory is based on the concepts of operand conditioning developed by B.F. Skinner. It argues that the behavior of people is largely determined by its consequence. In other words, those actions that tend to have positive or pleasant consequences tend to be repeated more often in future, while those actions that tend to have repeated negative or unpleasant consequences are less likely to be repeated again.

The reinforcement theory suggests that managers should try to structure the contingencies of rewards and punishments on the job in such a way that the consequences of effective job behavior are positive while the consequences of ineffective work behavior are negative or unpleasant. The focus of this approach is upon changing or modifying the behavior of people on the job. that is why it is also regarded as organizational behavior modification.

The basic notion underlying reinforcement theory is the concept of reinforcement itself. An event is said to be reinforcing if the event following some behavior makes the behavior more likely to occur again in the future.

In organizational settings, four basic kinds of reinforcement can result from behavior which is discussed briefly as under:
1. Positive Reinforcement: A method of strengthening behavior with rewards or positive outcomes after a desired behavior is performed.

2. Avoidance / Negative reinforcement: Used to strengthen behavior by avoiding unpleasant consequences that would result if the behavior was not performed.
3. Punishment: Used to weaken undesired behaviors by using negative outcomes or unpleasant consequence when the behavior is performed.
4. Extinction: Used to weaken undesired behaviors by simply ignoring or not reinforcing that behavior.

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