MGT 301 Saudi Electronic University Organizational Behaviour Discussion


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  • Supporting: Chapter 8 and discuss the following question:
    • What does the term “expert” mean to you? What exactly do experts do that novices don’t

Chapter 8
Learning and Decision Making
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Class Agenda
Learning and Decision Making
Why Do Some Employees Learn to Make Decisions Better
than Others?

Types of Knowledge

Methods of Learning

Methods of Decision Making

Decision-Making Problems
How Important Is Learning?
Application: Training
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An Integrative Model of Organizational Behavior
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Learning and Decision Making
Learning reflects relatively permanent changes in an employee’s
knowledge or skill that result from experience.
Decision making refers to the process of generating and choosing
from a set of alternatives to solve a problem.
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Workplace Learning Potential
1. At work, I get enough time to find my own solutions to task-related issues.
2. At work, I have the freedom to explore new ways to be more effective.
3. At work, I can experiment with different methods even if it might slow me
4. At work, I get the opportunity to learn how to cope with difficulties my way.
5. At work, I get the chance to reflect on how to do my job better.
6. At work, I have the freedom to compare different approaches to my work.
Average Score: 19
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Why Do Some Employees Learn to Make Better
Decisions than Others?
Expertise refers to the knowledge and skills that distinguish experts
from novices and less experienced people.
Employees learn two types of knowledge:
• Explicit is easy to communicate and teach.
• Tacit is more difficult to communicate; gained with experience.
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Table 8-1 Characteristics of Explicit and Tacit
Easily transferred through written or verbal
Very difficult, if not impossible, to articulate
to others
Readily available to most
Highly personal in nature
Can be learned through books
Based on experience
Always conscious and accessible information Sometimes holders don’t even recognize
that they possess it
General information
Typically job- or situation-specific
Source: Adapted from R. McAdam, B. Mason, and J. McCrory, “Exploring the Dichotomies Within the Tacit Knowledge
Literature: Towards a Process of Tacit Knowing in Organizations,” Journal of Knowledge Management 11 (2007), pp. 43–59.
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Methods of Learning
1 of 3
How do employees learn?
• Reinforcement is also known as operant conditioning.
• We learn by observing the link between our voluntary behavior
and the consequences that follow.
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Figure 8-1 Operant Conditioning Components
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Contingencies of Reinforcement
Increase desired behaviors and decrease unwanted behaviors
• Positive reinforcement: Positive outcome follows a desired
• Negative reinforcement: An unwanted outcome is removed
following a desired behavior.
• Punishment: An unwanted outcome follows an unwanted
• Extinction: The removal of a consequence following an unwanted
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Figure 8-2 Contingencies of Reinforcement
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Table 8-2 Schedules of Reinforcement
Reward Given
Potential Level of
Every desired
High, but difficult to
Fixed interval
Fixed time periods
Variable interval
Variable time periods Moderately high
Supervisor walk-by
Fixed ratio
Fixed number of
desired behaviors
Piece-rate pay
Variable ratio
Variable number of
desired behaviors
Very high
Commission pay
Research shows that the timing of reinforcement is important to modify
behavior. New learning is acquired most rapidly under a continuous
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Methods of Learning
2 of 3
How do employees learn?
• Social learning theory argues that people in organizations have the
ability to learn through the observation of others.
• Behavioral modeling involves observing and learning from others and
then repeating the action.
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Figure 8-3 The Modeling Process
Source: Adapted from H.M. Weiss, “Learning Theory and Industrial and Organizational Psychology,” in Handbook of
Industrial and Organizational Psychology, ed. M.D. Dunnette and L.M. Hough (Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press,
1990) pp. 75–169.
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Methods of Learning
3 of 3
Some people learn differently, as a function of the goals and
activities that they prioritize.
Goal orientation
• Learning orientation: Building competence is deemed more
important than demonstrating competence.
• Performance-prove orientation: Focus is on demonstrating
competence so that others think favorably of them.
• Performance-avoid orientation: Focus is on demonstrating
competence so that others will not think poorly of them.
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Goal Orientation
Score: 16
Score: 11
Score: 11
Source: Adapted from J.F. Brett and D. VandeWalle, “Goal Orientation and Goal Content as Predictors of Performance in a Training
Program,” Journal of Applied Psychology 84 (1999), pp. 863–73. Copyright (c) 1999 by the American Psychological Association.
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Methods of Decision Making
Programmed decisions: Automatic because knowledge allows employee to
recognize a situation and the needed course of action
Intuition: Emotionally charged judgment arising through quick, nonconscious, and
holistic associations
Crisis situation: Urgent problem must be addressed immediately
Nonprogrammed decisions: Problem is new, complex, or not recognized.
For nonprogrammed decisions, the rational decision-making model:
• Offers a step-by-step approach to making decisions
• Is designed to maximize outcomes by examining all available alternatives
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Figure 8-4
Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions
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Rational Decision Making
1 2
3 4
1. I act based on my heart, not my head.
2. I think feelings should be the guide in most decisions.
3. I listen to logic when acting, not my emotions.
4. Most of my life decisions are governed by how I feel.
5. I do what inspires me. Now that’s logical.
6. When it comes to decisions, I do what is logical.
7. My feelings are my compass when there are choices to be made.
8. I believe key decisions should be reasoned carefully and rationally.
9. Important decisions should be based on the facts, not on emotions.
Average Score: 27
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OB on Screen
The Big Short
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Decision-Making Problems: Limited Information
Limited information
• Bounded rationality: Do not have the ability or resources to process all
available information and alternatives
• Satisficing: Choosing the first acceptable alternative
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Table 8-3 Rational Decision Making vs. Bounded
To be rational decision makers, we
Identify the problem by thoroughly examining the
situation and considering all interested parties.
Develop an exhaustive list of alternatives to consider
as solutions.
Evaluate all the alternatives simultaneously.
Use accurate information to evaluate alternatives.
Pick the alternative that maximizes value.
Bounded rationality says we are likely
Boil down the problem to something that is easily
Come up with a few solutions that tend to be
straightforward, familiar, and similar to what is
currently being done.
Evaluate each alternative as soon as we think of it.
Use distorted and inaccurate information during
the evaluation process.
Pick the first acceptable alternative (satisfice).
Sources: Adapted from H.A. Simon, “Rational Decision Making in Organizations,” American Economic Review 69 (1979), pp. 493-513;
D. Kahneman, “Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics,” The American Economic Review 93 (2003), pp. 1449-75;
and S.W. Williams, Making Better Business Decisions (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002
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Decision-Making Problems: Faulty Perceptions
Selective perception: tendency to see the environment only as it affects them,
consistent with their expectations.
Projection bias: belief that others think, feel, and act the same way they do
Social identity theory: people identify with groups and judge others by their group
Stereotype: assumptions are made about others on the basis of their membership in a
social group.
Heuristics: simple, efficient rules of thumb that allow us to make decisions more easily
Availability bias: tendency to base judgments on information that is easier to recall
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Table 8-4 Decision-Making Biases
The tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information
when making decisions even when the anchor might be unreliable or irrelevant.
The tendency to make different decisions based on how a question or situation is
Representativeness The tendency to assess the likelihood of an event by comparing it to a similar
event and assuming it will be similar.
The tendency to judge things erroneously based on a reference that is near to
The tendency to weigh recent events more than earlier events.
Ratio Bias Effect
The tendency to judge the same probability of an unlikely event as lower when
the probability is presented in the form of a ratio of smaller rather than of larger
Sources: J. Baron, Thinking and Deciding, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000); V. Denes-Raj, and S. Epstein, “Conflict Between Intuitive and Rational Processing: When People
Behave Against Their Better Judgment,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66 (1994), pp. 819–29; R.E. Nisbett and L. Ross, Human Inference: Strategies and Shortcomings of Social
Judgment (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1980); D.G. Meyers, Social Psychology (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005); G. Gigerenzer, P.M. Todd, and ABC Research Group, Simple Heuristics That Make Us
Smart (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); D. Kahneman, A. Tversky, and P. Slovic, Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics & Biases (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982); D.
Kahneman and A. Tversky, “Choices, Values and Frames,” American Psychologist 39 (1984), pp. 341–50.
©McGraw-Hill Education.
Decision-Making Problems: Faulty Attributions
Fundamental attribution error: A tendency to judge others’ behaviors as due
to internal factors such as ability or attitude
Self-serving bias: Attribute our failures to external factors and our successes
to internal factors
Attribution process
• Consensus: Did others act the same way under similar situations?
• Distinctiveness: Does this person tend to act differently in other
• Consistency: Does this person always do this when performing this task?
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Figure 8-5 Consensus,
Distinctiveness, and Consistency
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Decision-Making Problems: Escalation of Commitment
The decision to continue to follow a failing course of action
• “Throwing good money after bad”
• Becomes stronger when decision makers have invested a lot of
money into the decision and when the project in question seems
quite close to completion
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Figure 8-6 Why Do Some Employees Learn to Make
Decisions Better Than Others?
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How Important Is Learning?
Learning is moderately correlated with task performance.
Learning is less correlated to citizenship behavior and
counterproductive behavior.
Learning is weakly related to organizational commitment.
• Higher levels of job knowledge is associated with slight
increase in emotional attachment.
• Employees with higher levels of expertise may become more
highly valued commodities on the job market, thereby
reducing their levels of continuance commitment.
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Figure 8-7 Effects of Learning on Performance and
Sources: G.M. Alliger, S.I. Tannenbaum, W. Bennett Jr., H. Traver, and A. Shotland, “A Meta-Analysis of the Relations among Training Criteria,” Personnel
Psychology 50 (1997), pp. 341–58; J.A. Colquitt, J.A. LePine, and R.A. Noe, “Toward an Integrative Theory of Training Motivation: A Meta-Analytic
Path Analysis of 20 Years of Research,” Journal of Applied Psychology 85 (2000), pp. 678–707; and J.P. Meyer, D.J. Stanley, L. Herscovitch, and L.
Topolnytsky, “Affective, Continuance, and Normative Commitment to the Organization: A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences,”
Journal of Vocational Behavior 61 (2002), pp. 20–52.
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Application: Training
Knowledge transfer from more experienced to less experienced
• Behavior modeling
• Company messaging systems and social networking
• Communities of practice involve informal social learning through
extended periods of employee interaction
Transfer of training
• Climate for transfer involves an environment that supports the use
of new skills
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Next Time
Chapter 9: Personality and Cultural Values
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