Behavioral Strategies

by Saul Gellerman



The article focuses on behavioral strategies adopted by people at work. Behavior has been regarded traditionally as a contributor to costs, either as overhead or through behavior-related costs, such as errors, scrappage, and delays. Elaborate strategies have been contrived to control these costs, usually by various restrictions upon behavior. To the extent that most organizations have a conscious strategy for managing behavior at all, it is likely to be some variant of this cost-control approach. Instead of merely restricting costly behavior, it seeks to encourage actions which add to productivity and efficiency. This is referred to as a value-adding behavioral strategy. The cost-control and value-adding strategies are not mutually exclusive. However, it does appear that cost-control as a strategy for managing behavior has already contributed about all that it can. Further gains in human productivity are more likely to result from a wider application of the value-adding approach, possibly including some replacement of cost-control methods.

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