Browse Definitions :
Definition

broken window theory

Broken window theory is the concept that each problem that goes unattended in a given environment affects people's attitude toward that environment and leads to more problems.

As a corollary to the theory, when an environment is well-tended and problems dealt with as they arise, that also affects attitudes and leads to continued good management and maintenance. The theory first appeared in a 1982 article ("Broken Windows") in The Atlantic by two social scientists, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. Here's how the authors explain the phenomenon:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.

In a business context, broken window theory is applied not only to elements of the physical workplace environment but any kind of outstanding issue that has not been promptly dealt with. Problems like absenteeism, information silos, poor human resource management, overwork, burnout, oppressive or disconnected corporate cultures and a lack of employee engagement can each be considered analagous to a  broken window.

This was last updated in September 2015

Continue Reading About broken window theory

SearchNetworking
SearchSecurity
  • man in the browser (MitB)

    Man in the browser (MitB) is a security attack where the perpetrator installs a Trojan horse on the victim's computer that is ...

  • Patch Tuesday

    Patch Tuesday is the unofficial name of Microsoft's monthly scheduled release of security fixes for the Windows operating system ...

  • parameter tampering

    Parameter tampering is a type of web-based cyber attack in which certain parameters in a URL are changed without a user's ...

SearchCIO
  • chief procurement officer (CPO)

    The chief procurement officer, or CPO, leads an organization's procurement department and oversees the acquisitions of goods and ...

  • Lean Six Sigma

    Lean Six Sigma is a data-driven approach to improving efficiency, customer satisfaction and profits.

  • change management

    Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with the transition or transformation of an organization's goals, processes...

SearchHRSoftware
SearchCustomerExperience
  • clickstream data (clickstream analytics)

    Clickstream data and clickstream analytics are the processes involved in collecting, analyzing and reporting aggregate data about...

  • neuromarketing

    Neuromarketing is the study of how people's brains respond to advertising and other brand-related messages by scientifically ...

  • contextual marketing

    Contextual marketing is an online marketing strategy model in which people are served with targeted advertising based on their ...

Close