Response-Stimulus Concept of Motivation & the Bhagavad Gita.

AuthorPulapa, Subba Rao


Operant conditioning of learning states that learning occurs as a consequence of behavior i.e., Responsea Stimulus (RaS). Operant conditioning is used by organizational behavior researchers to explain the effectiveness of managers (Judith L. Komaki, 1986).


Some employees work with commitment and sincerity. Working sincerely with commitment is employee response (R). Some managements recognize such employees and reward them as stimulus (S). Employees who are rewarded by the management for their commitment and sincerity, are motivated to repeat their behavior of sincerity and commitment. Stimulus (S) to the primary response (R) leads to repetition/ enhancement of such a behavior. Thus, the concept response leads to stimulus (RaS) can also be applied to motivation. Rewarding an employee who works for longer hours/ with commitment through an incentive is an example of stimulating or motivating an employee. Some employees normally work for longer hours out of their sincerity, and commitment or interest in the job. However, some employees do so with an expectation of an incentive or favor.

Management normally stimulates or motivates self-committed employees to repeat their response/behavior. This may be referred to as Response-Stimulus (R-S) Motivation Concept. In fact, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, 5,200 years ago while preaching the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna just prior to Kurukshetra War (a part of Mahabharat-great epic of India) told that the way people approach Me, I reward them accordingly (The Bhagavad Gita, 4:11). Bhagavan Sri Krishna categorically indicated that He rewards people in the way they approach Him. It does mean that people have to worship the Lord to get their desires met by the Bhagavan Krishna. In addition, the Lord reveals Himself to the people in the way they consider Him (The Bhagavad Gita, 4:11). For example, Prince Druva has performed deep penance and austerities with pure devotion for six months and then Lord fulfilled his desire (Srimad Bhagavatam, 4:9). Thus, the Response-Stimulus concept of Motivation is similar to what Bhagavan told to Arjuna 5,200 years back. Classical behaviorists attributed learning to the connection between stimulus and learning. According to them, stimulus leads to response as indicated by classical conditioning (Weiss, 1990). Application of classical conditioning of learning to motivation indicates that rewards offered by management (Stimulus) leads to employee motivation (Response)...

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