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.


46th Annual Convention; Online; 2020

Event Details

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Paper Session #109
Neoliberalism, Organizational Behavior Management, and the Attack on Tenure
Saturday, May 23, 2020
5:00 PM–5:20 PM
Area: OBM
Chair: Douglas Robertson (Florida International University)
Neoliberalism, Organizational Behavior Management, and the Attack on Tenure
Domain: Theory
DOUGLAS ROBERTSON (Florida International University), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Abstract: This paper reports on a case study in a nine year line of behavioral analytic research on intentional, systemic change in public metropolitan research universities (Robertson, 2014a, 2014b, 2016a, 2016b, 2017, 2019, in press; Robertson & Boronat, 2015; Robertson & Pelaez, 2011, 2012a, 2012b, 2013a, 2013b, 2014, 2015a, 2015b, 2016, 2017a, 2017b, 2018, 2019). Neoliberalism can be thought of as a system of metacontingencies at a global scale. Beginning with the post-Cold War era (e.g., Reagan's and Thatcher's administrations, 1981-1989 and 1979-1990, respectively) and continuing to the present, neoliberalism has ascended to become the dominant paradigm for policy and economies globally (Harvey, 2005; St. John, Daun-Barnett, & Moronski-Chapman, 2018; Steger & Roy, 2010). Neoliberalism is an economic paradigm that values free markets, privatization, competition, and unregulated Individualism (what some call "liberty"; think Adam Smith [1723-1790] and more recently, Milton Friedman [1912-2006] and F. A. Hayek [1899-1992], in contrast to John Maynard Keynes [1883-1946], and at the extreme, Karl Marx [1818-1883]). The outcome of neoliberalism is to empower and embolden elites, which ironically limits the liberty of non-elites (recalling social Darwinism is appropriate). Unbridled income inequality and market failures with Keynesian bailouts have been the outcomes of neoliberal behavior and policy. Power elites within this paradigm need to control labor. In colleges and universities, a central and expensive category of labor comprises professors: permanent (tenured) faculty are a problem; contingent (contract) faculty are the solution. Organizational behavior management theory related to intentional change has focused on individual learning at a macro scale, nested hierarchies of metacontingencies, and rules (policy) to actualize desired organization changes. This case study examines an understudied approach: using policy (rules) to hire the agents who already behave in the desired way rather than changing existing agents' behavior and existing metacontingencies. Unintended consequences are examined.



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