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Predicting and influencing undesired behaviour

Predicting and influencing undesired behaviour

The international attention for undesirable behavior through the #MeToo discussion leads to more reports within many organizations.

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The international focus on sexual harassment triggered by the #MeToo debate has in many organisations led to more reports of sexual harassment, discrimination and other forms of undesired behaviour. For example, Dutch media reported a doubling of sexual harassment complaints by civil servants of the Municipality of Amsterdam in 2017, while complaints of inappropriate conduct at the Ministry of Defence increased from 64 in 2016 to 145 in 2017.

The tolerance level for undesired behaviour is clearly decreasing. Giving attention to culture and behaviour is therefore becoming increasingly important for organisations. Management Board and Supervisory Board members are held publicly accountable for the behaviour of staff members. How do organisations deal with signals of undesired behaviour? And more importantly, what can organisations do to prevent these types of behaviour?

Undesired versus desired behaviour

As a Behavioural Analytics team, we are increasingly being asked by organisations what drives the desired and undesired behaviour of staff members. If the root causes for certain behaviours can be explained, it could also be better assessed, predicted and influenced.

Social psychology provides a wealth of answers to the question why good people do bad things. Some of these answers, such as how social mechanisms influence the psyche and thus the behaviour of people, are very surprising.1

Cultural dimensions

Scientific research by our colleague, Professor Muel Kaptein, has revealed that human behaviour is influenced by eight cultural dimensions. Further research has shown that the more developed these eight cultural dimensions are, the greater the likelihood is that desired behaviour will predominate in an organisation, and the lower the risk is of undesired behaviour.2 The eight cultural dimensions are shown in the figure.

In the coming weeks we will focus on each cultural dimension in a separate blog and explain it through examples.

Would you like to know more? Please feel free to contact Heleen Hoynck van Papendrecht or Paul Hulshof if you have any questions; they are happy to discuss them with you.

Predicting and influencing undesired behaviour


1.Muel Kaptein (2011). Why Do Good People Sometimes Do Bad Things?: 52 Reflections on Ethics at Work.
2.Kaptein, S.P. (1998). Ethics Management: Auditing and Developing the Ethical Content of Organizations (doctoral thesis, Erasmus University Rotterdam).

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