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Reinforcement Model

Motivation is derived from the Latin word movere, which means “to move”. According to dictionary of management, it can be defined as the forces acting on or within a person that cause the arousal, direction, and persistence of goal-directed, voluntary effort. Motivation is one of the most important areas of study in the field of organizational behaviour. Motivation is done to inspire and encourage people to fulfil their needs. In motivation people tend to do something because they want to do it.

The internal needs and drives lead to tensions, which in turn result into action. In organization, motivation can be described as the willingness to achieve high levels effort towards organizational goals, conditioned by the efforts and ability to satisfy some individual need. There are several theories in motivation, such as Hierarcy of Needs Theory, ERG Theory, Two-Factor Theory, Acquired Needs Theory, Process Theories of Motivation, Expectancy Theory, Goal-Setting Theory, Self-Efficacy Theory, and Reinforcement Theory. In this paper, the authors will discuss more about reinforcement theory which popularized by Burrhus Frederic Skinner, a psychologist, an investor, and Harvard psychology professor who came from America.

1. Reinforcement Theory

Reinforcement theory is the process of shaping behaviour by controlling the consequences of the behaviour. In reinforcement theory a combination of rewards and punishments is used to reinforce desired behaviour or extinguish unwanted behaviour. Any behaviour that emerges a consequence is called operant behaviour, because the individual operates on his or her environment. Reinforcement theory concentrates on the relationship between the operant behaviour and the associated consequences, and is sometimes referred to as operant conditioning where behaviour is controlled by manipulating the consequences.

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2. Reinforcement Strategies

There are four strategies of reinforcement which are used in operant conditioning, such as positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction.

1. Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement is done by giving a positive response when an individual shows positive and required behaviour. For example, a manager immediately praises an employee for coming early for job. This will increase probability of outstanding behaviour occurring again. Reward is a positive reinforce, but not necessarily. If and only if the employees’ behaviour improves, reward can said to be a positive reinforcer. Positive reinforcement stimulates occurrence of behaviour. It must be noted that more spontaneous the rewards are given, the greater reinforcement value it has.

This strategy of reinforcement has two basic laws which are the law of contingent reinforcement and the law of immediate reinforcement. The first law states that for a reward to have a maximum reinforcing value it must be delivered only if the desired behaviour is exhibited. The second law states that the more immediate the delivery a reward after the occurrence of a desirable behaviour, the greater the reinforcing value of the reward.

There are three process of positive reinforcement, such as: a. Shaping is positive reinforcement of successive approximations to the desire behavior. Workers get support from manager and workers can try to give the best result to manager. b. Continuous Reinforcement is rewards each time a desired behavior occurs. Workers will get reward from manager for each time they can make goals for the job. c. Intermittent Reinforcement is rewards behavior only periodically. Workers will get reward from manager in the spesified time , maybe in the last year or the first year.

2. Negative Reinforcement

Negative Reinforcement happened when a manager is rewarding an employee by removing negative or undesirable consequences. Both positive and negative reinforcement can be used for increasing desirable or required behaviour.

3. Punishment

Punishment is done by removing positive consequences so as to lower the probability of repeating undesirable behaviour in future. In other words, punishment means applying undesirable consequence for showing undesirable behaviour. For example by suspending an employee for breaking the organizational rules. Punishment can be equalized by positive reinforcement from alternative source. Below are shown guidelines for punishment:

• Tell the person what is being done right and wrong.

• Assure that the punishment given is reasonable.

• Administer the punishment privately.

• Follow the laws of immediate and contingent reinforcement.

4. Extinction

This last strategy implies absence of reinforcements. This strategy is meant to lowering the probability of undesired behaviour by removing reward for that kind of behaviour. If an employee no longer receives praise and admiration for his good work, he may feel that his behaviour is generating no fruitful consequence. So, extinction may unintentionally lower desirable behaviour of the worker itself.

Reinforcement Theory was made by B. F Skinner. It simply states those employees’ behaviors that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated and behaviors that lead to negative outcomes will not be repeated. Reinforcement theory explains in detail how an individual learns behaviour. There are four main strategies used in Operant conditioning such as, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Skinner states that work environment should be made suitable to the individuals and that punishment actually leads to frustration and de-motivation.

Therefore, the only way to motivate is to keep on making positive changes in the external environment of the organization. Managers can use these strategies in turn, but if one strategy is used continuously it will causes negative impacts on employees. Managers who are making attempt to motivate the employees must ensure that they do not reward all employees simultaneously. They must tell the employees what they are not doing correct. They must tell the employees how they can achieve positive reinforcement. The desired result of the above strategy is that managers should negatively reinforce employee behavior that leads to negative outcomes and increase positive behaviors in the work environment.

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Reinforcement Model. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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