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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

Organizational behavior management (OBM) is an important aspect of management studies the subject pertaining to organizational behavior. Unlike human resource management, which focuses on people and their business outputs, OBM applies psychological principles of applied behavior analysis and the experimental analysis of behavior to organizations to promote worker safety and other benefits. The areas of application may include: systems analysis, management, training, and performance improvement.

The field of OBM consists of the development and evaluation of performance improvement procedures which are based on the principles of behavior discovered through the science of behavior analysis. These procedures are considered to be within the scope of OBM when they focus on improving individual or group performance within an organizational setting, whether that organization be a business, industrial setting, or human service setting, and whether that organization was established for profit or not.

The goal of the field of OBM is to establish a technology of broad-scale performance improvement and organizational change so that employees will be more productive and happy, and so that organizations and institutions will be more effective and efficient in achieving their goals.[1][2] OBM interventions have been varied and include working with therapists on increasing billable hours [3] to fortune five hundred companies increasing productivity[4] to issues of effective pay systems.[5][6][7]

Some of the technology that the field of OBM uses are behavioral systems analysis and performance management. Some have considered this melding to be a theoretical problem for OBM.[8] Another related field is behavior-based safety. Due to the nature of the field being involved in business and using the principles of behavior analysis, it is related to psychology, behavioral engineering and industrial engineering.[9][10]

History of OBMEdit

The history of this field is under some debate. Dr. Alyce Dickinson published an article in 2000 detailing the history of the field. The article states that the field emerged from within the field of behavior analysis. The first organized application of behavioral principles in business and industry was programmed instruction, however this application was before OBM emerged as a field. Although OBM is related to I/O psychology, because it is a behavioral field the historical precursors of I/O psychology are only chronological precursors and not causal precursors. The first university to offer a graduate program in OBM and systems analysis was Western Michigan University. The first teacher to teach the course was Dr. Dick Malott.

Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (JOBM)Edit

The first journal was published in 1977. The first editor was Aubrey Daniels. The name of the field originates from this journal publication. The field of OBM publishes a quarterly journal. This journal was ranked the third most influential of its kind in a 2003 study.[11]

Upon a review of the articles by Nolan et al. (1999), It showed that:

  1. The top three topics are productivity and quality, customer satisfaction, and training and development.
  2. 95% of the articles published were experimental and 5% were correlation.
  3. 80% of the articles published were done in the field and 20% were done in the laboratory.
  4. The research question was 57% theoretical and 45% applied.
  5. The research method used most is a within subjects design. Industrial and organizational psychology has yet to view small number within subject designs as legitimate experimental designs.

Scientific managementEdit

OBM might be seen as one of the distant branchs of scientific management, originally inspired by Taylor.[12] The principle difference between scientific management and OBM might be on the conceptual underpinnings: OBM is based on B.F. Skinner's science of human behavior.[13]


  2. Olson: (2003) Organizational Culture Putting the Organizational Culture Concept to Work – The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(4), 473–478 BAO
  3. Michael C. Clayton & Linda Hayes (2004) Using Performance Feedback to Increase the Billable Hours of Social Workers: A Multiple Baseline Evaluation, The Behavior Analyst Today, 5(1), pp. 91–105 BAO
  4. Houmanfar, Herbst, & Chase: (2003) Organizational Change Applications in Behavior Analysis: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4(1), 59–65 [1]
  5. Honeywell-Johnson, Judith A.; McGee, Heather M.; Culig, Kathryn M. & Dickinson, Alyce M. (2001) Different Effects of Individual and Small Group Monetary Incentives On High Performance. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(1), 88–103 [2]
  6. Abernathy, William B. (2001) Focused vs. Consolidated Measures In Performance Pay Systems. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(1), 7–12 [3]
  7. Gilbreath & Harris (2002) Performance-Based Pay in the Workplace: Magic Potion or Malevolent Poison? The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 311–316 BAO
  8. Hyten (2002) On the Identity Crisis in OBM. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(3), 301–315 BAO
  9. Roman, H.R. & Boyce, T.E. (2001) Institutionalizing Behavior-Based Safety: Theories, Concepts, And Practical Suggestions. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(1), 76–82 BAO
  10. Geller, E-S. (2001) Behavioral Safety: Meeting the Challenge of Making a Large-Scale Difference. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2(2), 64–75 BAO
  11. JOBM Takes the Bronze!.
  12. For example, Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management is listed on the OBM Network recommended books page [4]
  13. Bucklin, Barbara (2000). Industrial-organizational psychology and organizational behavior management: An objective comparison. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management 20 (2): 27–75.

External linksEdit

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