Understanding the Theory of Planned Behaviour


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Corporate Collectives

Behaviours are narratives, they tell stories and have a hidden meaning behind them. They are not just about putting your best foot forward, but about figuring out what actually is good. An employee’s behaviour plays a major role in how the organisation sees them and also their overall growth and performance. Organisations employ the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to explain, predict and understand their employees and their behaviours. The Theory of Planned Behaviour, developed by Icek Ajzen, is one such psychological framework that aims to explain and predict human behaviour It suggests that individuals’ behavioural intentions are influenced by three main factors: attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control. These factors shape an individual’s decision-making process, leading to a specific behavioural outcome.

Explaining the components of TPB

As mentioned earlier, the Theory of Planned Behaviour suggests that individuals’ behavioural intentions are influenced by three main factors: attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control. Let us understand each of these key components individually:

  1. Attitudes: Attitudes refer to an individual’s positive or negative evaluation of performing a particular behaviour. It involves assessing the advantages and disadvantages associated with the behaviour and its potential outcomes. Attitudes play a crucial role in influencing OCB. By promoting a culture of appreciation and recognising employee contributions, attitudes towards OCB can be positively influenced.
  2. Subjective Norms: Subjective norms refer to the perceived social pressure to engage in certain behaviours. They are social influences that impact an individual’s behaviour. These norms are shaped by societal expectations, beliefs, and opinions of significant others such as family, friends, and colleagues. 
  3. Perceived Behavioural Control: Perceived behavioural control relates to an individual’s perception of their ability to perform the behaviour successfully. It refers to an individual’s ability to control opportunities and resources when engaging in a behaviour. It considers the presence or absence of external factors, resources, and constraints that may influence one’s ability to carry out the intended behaviour. 

These factors shape an individual’s decision-making process, leading to a specific behavioural outcome. These components are important from the organisational citizenship behaviour within an organisation. 

Applying TPB in an Organisational Context

The Theory of Planned Behaviour offers valuable insights into understanding and predicting employee behaviour within an organisational setting. By applying TPB, organisations can enhance employee motivation, improve decision-making processes, and facilitate successful adoption of organisational changes. Let us see how organisations can apply TPB for the betterment of their organisation: 

  • Employee Motivation and Engagement

Employee motivation plays a vital role in organisational productivity and performance. By utilising TPB, organisations can identify the factors that influence employee motivation and develop strategies to increase engagement. Understanding employees’ attitudes towards their work, subjective norms within the organisation, and their perceived control over their tasks can help create an environment that fosters motivation and commitment.

  •  Decision-Making Processes

Effective decision-making is crucial for organisational success. TPB provides a framework for understanding the factors that influence decision-making processes within an organisation. By considering employees’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control, organisations can design decision-making structures that optimize outcomes and align with organisational goals.

  • Organisational Change and Adoption

Implementing organisational changes can be challenging, as it often involves shifting established behaviours and routines. TPB can aid in managing organisational change by identifying the factors that influence employees’ intentions to accept and adopt new practices. By addressing attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control, organisations can develop change management strategies that increase the likelihood of successful implementation.

Factors Influencing Behavioural Intentions

To effectively apply the Theory of Planned Behaviour within an organisational context, it is also essential to understand the three key components of TPB influence behavioural intentions:

  • Attitudes 

An individual’s assessment of the anticipated results and consequences of a behaviour shapes their attitudes. Organisations can influence attitudes by clearly communicating the advantages of particular behaviours, integrating personal beliefs with organisational objectives, and fostering a happy work environment.

  • Subjective Norms 

Within the organisational setting, social factors have an impact on subjective norms. By developing a culture that encourages and promotes desired behaviours, fostering supportive connections between staff members and managers, and encouraging positive peer influence, organisations can shape subjective standards.

  • Perceived Behavioural Control 

Determining a person’s intents to engage in a behaviour depends on their perception of behavioural control. By giving employees the necessary tools, opportunities for training, and support systems, organisations can increase the perception of control over their work processes.

Limitations and Criticisms of TPB

While the Theory of Planned Behaviour provides valuable insights and has many applications, it is also important to consider its limitations and criticisms when applying it within an organizational setting:

  •  Cultural Variations

TPB may vary depending on different cultures and contexts. Cultural norms, beliefs, and societal expectations can significantly influence behavioral intentions in an individual. Organizations operating in diverse cultural environments should consider these variations and tailor their strategies accordingly.

  • External Constraints

External constraints, such as organizational policies, economic factors, and resource limitations, can affect behavioral intentions. Organizations must recognize and address these constraints to ensure the feasibility and effectiveness of TPB interventions.

  • Individual Variability

Different levels of behavioral intention and control can be seen among individuals within an organization. The application of TPB may be impacted by individual variances, personal traits, and past experiences. When implementing TPB initiatives, organizations should take individual variability into consideration.


Implementing TPB Strategies in Organizations

To implement the strategies of TPB, organizations require a structured approach and process. To leverage the potential of TPB in driving organizational success, organizations can implement the  following steps:

  • Conducting Surveys and Assessments

First, start by conducting surveys and assessments in order to gather data on employees’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. These insights will serve as a foundation for designing targeted interventions and strategies.

  • Designing Interventions and Training Programs

Based on the survey findings, design interventions and training programs that address the identified factors influencing behavioral intentions. These programs should aim to promote positive attitudes, create supportive subjective norms, and enhance perceived behavioral control.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation

Keep an eye on and assess the results of the tactics you’ve used. Organizations will be able to optimize results by making the necessary adjustments and enhancements with regular feedback and outcome evaluation.


The Theory of Planned Behaviour offers a valuable framework for understanding and predicting human behaviour within an organisational setting. It is important for organisations to understand, explain and predict their employees behaviour and intentions for the overall growth and development of an individual as well as the organisation as a whole. By considering attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control, organisations can design interventions and strategies to drive employee engagement, enhance decision-making processes, and successfully implement organisational changes and create a better work environment. While TPB has its benefits and applications, various other factors need to be considered before implementing different strategies. Overall, after considering all the factors, implementation of TPB strategies can be useful for the betterment of the organisation.

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