HRM, Leadership Learning and Development - Essay Example

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Part One Pavlov's unconscious conditioning and Skinnerian Conditioning in Organizational Learning and Development Introduction Pavlov’s unconscious conditioning and Skinnerian conditioning are the two of the most fundamental models in psychology. Even though these two theories present a different perspective of human learning, from a practical point of view both seem to be applicable under certain specific conditions…
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Download file to see previous pages The typical procedure involves presentation of a neutral stimulus along with a stimulus of some significance (unconditional stimulus). The neutral stimulus (also known as conditional stimulus) can produce the same behavioural response as the stimulus of some significance. This response was called conditional response (Pavlov, 1927). The speed and strength of this conditional response is directly proportional to the predictive value of the conditional stimulus relative to the unconditional stimulus (Rescorla and Wagner, 1972). Pavlov’s theories are among the few models from psychology which have permeated popular culture. Despite some shortcomings, the theory continues to receive a good deal of respectful consideration in academia as well (Bitterman, 2005). The implications from the theory are also exploited in media and advertising (Allen, 1989). Pavlov’s unconscious conditioning does not produce new behaviour, but recreates the reflexive behaviour in the presence of new stimuli. The implications for workplace can be significant. The conditional stimulus couple with unconditional stimulus can produce the desired emotional behaviour (Merle, 2001). For example, an executive can convey a good news in person and the bad news can be delivered through an impersonal email. Thus, as interactions with the manager or leader are associated with good news and the employees can look forward to follow his lead. 2.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Pavlov's unconscious conditioning in enabling learning The relationship between a conditional stimulus and conditional response is not fixed but is influenced by a number of external variables. Thus, the process for associating conditional stimulation with conditional response is not often reduced to a neat mathematical model. In most cases, practitioners have to rely on a more intuitive approach to pair a stimulus with a response. If the pairing of conditional stimulus and conditional response is weakened then the response may diminish with time (Heth, 2009). Here again, managers have to rely on an intuitive approach to sense that the desired response is diminishing. To extend the example mentioned before, a manager will no longer be associated with good news, if he mismanages a couple of projects (even though he continues to distribute all the bad news through impersonal memos). Often, a novel stimulus similar to the conditional stimulus can elicit the same response as the conditional stimulus and the phenomenon is termed as respondent stimulus generalization (). The greater the physical similarity between novel stimulus and conditional stimulus more is the likelihood of a similar response (Merle, 2001). For instance an employee, who was injured by a drill machine, may develop an aversion to other machine tools as well. 3.1 Skinnerian conditioning Skinner (1938) demonstrated that rats kept hungry can be trained to press levers on a wall, when the action of pressing the levers produces food items (reinforcements). The functional equivalent of food in workplace is rewards or incentives. It is generally well accepted that incentives can produce desired behaviour. But the Skinnerian conditioning theories give us further insights on the subject. For instance, the schedule of reinforcement has a significant bearing on the pattern of behaviour produced ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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