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Evidence for Behavior Engineering Model

Thomas Gilbert and Frederick Taylor share similarities in their work.

Both Gilbert and Taylor focused on producing competent human behavior. Both believed that human incompetence was management’s fault. Taylor criticized the poor managerial practice used in the initiative and incentives management and encouraged close cooperation between management and workers in scientific management. Similarly, in his Behavior Engineering Model Gilbert suggested that deficiencies in management are the ultimate cause of deficiencies in employees’ performance. That is, both Taylor and Gilbert emphasized that management plays a crucial role in successfully analyzing, designing, and implementing performance improvement interventions. (Chyung, 2005, p. 27)

According to Gilbert (1978) and his third leisurely theorem (a.k.a. Behavior Engineering Model or BEM), human competence can be engineered by several factors, including:

  • three environmental factors – Data, Instruments, and Incentives
  • three personal factors – Knowledge, Capacity, and Motives

Gilbert theorized that it would be more cost-effective to apply the BEM in the following sequence: Data > Instruments > Incentives > Knowledge > Capacity > Motives.

The WORC research teams have been investigating research results that support Thomas Gilbert’s BEM. For example,

  • What have we learned from research, regarding how each of the six BEM factors impacts human competence?
  • What evidence exists to support the rationale behind the BEM structure that includes six factors?
  • What evidence exists to support the recommended sequence of using the BEM factors?


Chyung, S. Y. (2005). Human performance technology from Taylor’s scientific management to Gilbert’s behavior engineering model.  Performance Improvement Journal, 44(1), 23-28.

Gilbert, T. F. (1978). Human competence: Engineering worthy performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.