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Regarding the quote, "Discipline is a function of natural consequences. Punishment involves power and shame." For organizations, discipline would work only when the interests of the employee are aligned with those of the organization and failure to conform hurts both. This alignment does not always exist and this is where use of reliable rewards or incentives can generate increased favor for organizational interests.

Punishment must always involve power, but not necessarily shame. In fact, one cannot assume use of punishment will result in shame. Shame is not a contollable factor and, therefore, is not a reliable tool.

The key to this dance is that both the employee and the organization are weighing their relative chances at reward and punishment. The reward and punishment come from many dimensions for both and are not limited to the two, as evidenced by the impact of "peer-pressure" in the experiment results. Think friends, family, personal goals, competitors, enemies, etc.

Also, I do not subscribe to the theory that individuals act in non-selfish behavior. I believe such research (like most behavioral research) measures limited parameters. I do not believe it possible for any research to capture all the parameters individuals capture and measure in their decisions.


Great and insightful thoughts, thanks for taking the time to share them here.

I don't subscribe to the non-selfish theory either, and it would be interesting to further consider how that might have impacted the results and conclusions here.

I think few of us believe that it is possible for any particular research initiative to capture all parameters about how individuals make decisions - but I do find it interesting to reflect on what particular lessons or insights (however narrow) we can draw from them.

Appreciate your stopping by to weigh in!

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