Definition of Reinforcement Theory

Reinforcement theory in simple words is the process of reward or punishment by which the individuals/employees behave in a desired manner. For instance, this theory indicates that if a person’s behavior brings a positive outcome, that behavior is more likely to repeat in the future. On the contrary, if a person’s behavior brings a negative outcome, that behavior is less likely to occur in the future.


In organizational settings, a manager might use positive reinforcements such as rewards, bonuses, a raise in the salary, etc. to promote and reward certain positive behavior. A manager might punish an employee for a certain negative or unfavorable behavior by giving punishment including, a cut in the salary, demote, etc.

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