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
  • virtual network functions (VNFs)

    Virtual network functions (VNFs) are virtualized tasks formerly carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware.

  • network functions virtualization (NFV)

    Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture model designed to virtualize network services that have ...

  • overlay network

    An overlay network is a virtual or logical network that is created on top of an existing physical network.

SearchSecurity
  • X.509 certificate

    An X.509 certificate is a digital certificate that uses the widely accepted international X.509 public key infrastructure (PKI) ...

  • directory traversal

    Directory traversal is a type of HTTP exploit in which a hacker uses the software on a web server to access data in a directory ...

  • malware

    Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is intentionally harmful to a computer, network or server.

SearchCIO
  • data latency

    Data latency is the time it takes for data packets to be stored or retrieved. In business intelligence (BI), data latency is how ...

  • chief data officer (CDO)

    A chief data officer (CDO) in many organizations is a C-level executive whose position has evolved into a range of strategic data...

  • information technology (IT) director

    An information technology (IT) director is the person in charge of technology within an organization. IT directors manage ...

SearchHRSoftware
SearchCustomerExperience
  • implementation

    Implementation is the execution or practice of a plan, a method or any design, idea, model, specification, standard or policy for...

  • first call resolution (FCR)

    First call resolution (FCR) is when customer service agents properly address a customer's needs the first time they call.

  • customer intelligence (CI)

    Customer intelligence (CI) is the process of collecting and analyzing detailed customer data from internal and external sources ...

Close