Organizational Learning Practices

Case Study:

Several years ago, an independent investigator reported that construction and maintenance workers who were supposed to be working at Scarborough public schools were actually spending their mornings at a coffee shop, or drinking in bars, and in one case even kissing in cars. One worker was spotted delivering pamphlets to houses and offering to perform jobs on school board time. Some workers did not show up at jobs even though time cards indicated they did. The workers submitted time sheets and were paid their wages as if they had put in a full day’s work. In some cases, workers signed in to work at a school, then announced that they had to go get “parts” and were later discovered by Scarborough District School Board officials drinking in a bar. In another case, a male worker was found ion a board vehicle with a female. They were “fooling around”, according to a source. In the case of the pamphlets, sources said a worker was using board time to deliver flyers advertising his services for private jobs, apparently using board equipment. Following the investigation, the school board cracked down on wasteful activities and fired or disciplined 150 construction and maintenance workers over allegations of fraud and time theft. The school board also installed GPS tracking devices on all board vehicles and began to bundle jobs, so that a worker would spend a full day at one school rather than doing a series of small jobs at different schools.


1) Based on what you know about learning theory, explain why the workers engaged in inappropriate behaviours during work hours and why they were not doing what they were supposed to be doing?

2) Use operant theory and social cognitive theory to explain what can be done to eliminate undesirable behaviours and increase desirable behaviours. What approach do you recommend? Why?

3) What do you think of the way to school board responded to the investigator? Do you think that it will eliminate problems? Explain.

4) How do you think that organizational learning practices can be used to change employee behavior?

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