Larry Ames has successfully completed a company training program in O.B. Mod. He likes the approach and has started using it on the workers in his department. Following the O.B. Mod. model, he has identified several performance behaviors, measured and analyzed them, and used a positive reinforcement intervention strategy. His evaluation has shown a significant improvement in the performance of his department. Over coffee one day he commented to one of the other supervisors, “This contingent reinforcement approach really works. Before, the goody-goody people up in human resources were always telling us to try to understand and be nice to our workers. Frankly, I couldn’t buy that. In the first place, I don’t think there is anybody who can really understand my people—I certainly can’t. More important, though, is that under this approach I am only nice contingently—contingent on good performance. That makes a lot more sense, and my evaluation proves that it works.” The other supervisor commented, “You are being reinforced for use of the reinforcement technique on your people.” Larry said, “Sure I am. Just like the trainer said: ‘Behavior that is reinforced will strengthen and repeat itself.’ I’m so reinforced that I am starting to use it on my wife and kids at home, and you know what? It works there, too.” The next week Larry was called into the department head’s office and was told, “Larry, as you know, your department has shown a substantial increase in performance since you completed the O.B. Mod. program. I have sent our industrial engineer down there to analyze your standards. I have received her report, and it looks like we will have to adjust your rates upward by 10 percent. Otherwise, we are going to have to pay too much incentive pay. I’m sure you can use some of the things you learned in that O.B. Mod. program to break the news to your people. Good luck, and keep up the good work.”
1. Do you think Larry’s boss, the department head, attended the O.B. Mod. program? Analyze the department head’s action in terms of O.B. Mod.
2. What do you think Larry’s reaction will be now and in the future? How do you think Larry’s people will react?
3. Given the 10 percent increase in standards, is there any way that Larry could still use the O.B. Mod. approach with his people? With his boss? How?