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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Paper Session #48
The Influence of Leadership on Organizational Culture and Change
Saturday, May 27, 2017
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall A-C
Area: OBM
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Douglas Robertson (Florida International University)

The Role of Leaders in Organizational Corruption: A Metacontingency Analysis of Three Ghanaian Public Sector Fraud Cases

Domain: Basic Research
TETE KOBLA AGBOTA (Oslo and Akershus University of Applied Sciences)

In May 2014, the Association for Behavior Analysis International called on behavior analysts to address the topic, Leadership, and Culture. The exhortation is essential because an organizations culture governs how its members behave when nobody is watching them as they perform their administrative duties. An African adage says the fish starts rotting from its head. The leader is the embodiment par excellence of the organizational culture. If a manager sends ambiguous signals on the ethical rules for appropriate behavior in the organization, the subordinates may behave unethically. This paper addresses the role of leaders in corrupt organizational cultures, by undertaking a metacontingency analysis of three public sector corruption cases in Ghana. It concludes that members of an organization will engage corrupt practices if their leaders participate in the interlocking behavioral contingencies that produce frauds. To combat corruption, we need to emphasize ethical leadership and the leaders role as an anti-corruption agent.


Changing Horses in Mid-Stream: Leadership Succession During Large-Scale Organizational Change

Domain: Theory
DOUGLAS ROBERTSON (Florida International University), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)

This paper discusses the issue of leadership succession and the need of maintaining effective leadership while large scale organizational change is in progress. Organizational change discussions often presume that the internal selecting environment created by top organizational leadership will remain constant. However, in fact, leadership change is common and with this change comes contingency changes in the system. The context of our discussion is a case study of interventions aimed at both immediate results and systems building at a large public metropolitan research university (enrollment: 56,000) that were designed to transform the administration of the undergraduate curriculum in order to reorient it toward significantly improving undergraduate student success. The complex set of university-wide interventions were branded the Graduation Success Initiative (GSI) and were able to improve the on-time graduation rate by 16 points in its four years of operation (2011-2015) and win a national award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (Most Visible Progress Award, 2013). The GSI targeted for change both macrobehaviors (behavioral patterns shared by a large proportion of individuals who occupy various roles in the university) and metacontingencies (recurring patterns of interlocking behavior contingencies that occur in nested hierarchies and exist at the cultural level). In 2014, leadership changed at the university, and in 2015, the new leadership initiated rolling reorganizations. The contingency fields for the universitys existing change projects were de-stabilized, and reinforcement systems became unclear. The universitys production on performance based funding metrics were affected within a year, and it dropped from the top three among the states 11 public universities to fifth, facing the real possibility the next year of falling to the bottom three and losing $26 million in performance based funding. We will discuss dynamics that make this kind of outcome to leadership succession commonplace and ways to avoid or minimize dysfunctional disruption in the process of an intentional systemic change.




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