Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #177
CE Offered: PSY

Correcting Myopia in Organizational Behavior Management

Sunday, May 27, 2012
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
6A (Convention Center)
Area: OBM; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Dwight Harshbarger, Ph.D.
Chair: Lori H. Diener (Performance Blueprints, Inc.)
DWIGHT HARSHBARGER (West Virginia University)
Dwight is known for his work in applied psychology, including seven years as the Executive Director of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He is a native of West Virginia and studied at West Virginia University, the University of California-Berkley and the University of North Dakota where he completed a Ph.D. Dwight then did post-graduate work at Harvard University. He joined the faculty of West Virginia University and became a tenured professor of psychology. He later served as a corporate consultant then as a senior executive at Sealy, Inc., and Reebok International, Ltd. He currently holds appointments as Adjunct Professor of Community Medicine at West Virginia University, and Senior Fellow of the Cambridge Center. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. Dwight's historical fiction novel (2009), Witness at Hawks Nest, is an insider's compelling story of America's deadliest and least known industrial disaster: the tragedy of Union Carbide's 1930s constrction of the giant Hawks Nest hydroelectric tunnel. The novel has received widespread attention and is in pre-production for a dramatic film. Dwight is the recipient of the 2011 Organizational Behavior Management Network Lifetime Acheivement Award.

OBMers are diligent students of an organization's overt practices' looking ever-so-closely at input, throughput, and output while mapping processes. We identify contingencies of reinforcement and punishment, as well as sometimes obvious and occasionally near-invisible feedback that drives behavior in organizations. Our publications present the power of behavior-based technology in carefully defined applications. Applications of behavioral technology to improve products and services are valuable. Yet we often operate with a narrow, even myopic, view of performance that lacks the breadth and depth of analysis to yield a full assessment of an organization's performance. Often omitted is the power of its history. An organization's values may showcase today's promises, apparent reality, while masking darker, deadly, current and historical backstage practices. The continuing devastation from covert practices in the financial industry provides abundant evidence of the failure of limited vision. Underground mining disasters present tragic and all-too-familiar cases of apparent regulatory compliance masking pathological practices. This presentation will highlight histories and cumulative power of flawed, sometimes deadly, histories and practices in two chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Suggestions will be presented for, 1) improving organizational assessments, including corrective lens for OBM myopia, and 2) development of more complete models of organizations and performance.

Target Audience:

This tutorial is suitable for introductory level and above.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to: 1. Identify and discriminate between an organization's front-stage vs. back-stage operations, or public "presentations of the organizational self" vs. underlying realities. 2. Identify ways in which failures in an organization's identifications of hazards / risks / flawed products have impacted the health and well-being of workers and the public. 3. Identify two methods to improve assessments of organizational operations.
Keyword(s): organizational assessment



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