Gilbert’s Behavior Engineering Model

I was talking to someone about organization culture on Friday and she asked whether I knew of Gilbert's Behavior Engineering Model (BEM) – which I didn't. But now I've done a bit of digging around and found out that in 1978 Thomas Gilbert's book Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance was published. For some reason the title struck me as odd. Can you 'engineer' performance, and what is 'worthy'? (But then I read Michael Lewis's article 'The End of Wall Street's Boom' and felt that there would be nothing better than to engineer worthy performance).

So I persisted with the Gilbert line of thought which I found was well-explained by Roger Chevalier who published an updated model. Chevalier comments that Gilbert's approach:

Provides us with a way to systematically and systemically identify barriers to individual and organizational performance. The BEM distinguishes between a person's repertory of behavior (what the individual brings to the performance equation) and the environmental supports (the work environment factors that encourage or impede performance)

Inevitably the Behavior Engineering Model is summarized in a matrix but not the familiar 2 x 2 which seems the favored format for most management models. His is 4 x 2 – and so is the updated one. I realize the content of each cell is more important than the dimensions of the matrix but I am always struck by the apparent need to put things in cells – maybe it's the rule oriented US culture from whence most management models originate, and/or a reflection of the imprisoning there of office workers in cubicles.

Developing this last idea I have never been able to understand how putting workers into cubicles (cells) engineers worthy performance. I prefer the European open plan tendency. I wonder if European management models are less prone to be presented in Boston boxes and are more free form – clearly an academic research topic for someone. But I've wandered off point here.

Anyway from the reading of the Chevalier article I decided that the BEM merited a bit more investigation so I've ordered Gilbert's book from Amazon. (I couldn't face going into my local bookstore and trying to engineer worthy performance from one of the sales associates there).

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