The World of Work Project

Blumberg Model of Performance

The Blumberg model of performance says that an individual’s performance is a function of their capacity (ability), their willingness and the opportunities that they have to perform. Though this model relates specifically to performance, it can also be applied to other behaviors.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Blumberg Model of Performance

The Blumberg model of performance dates from 1982 and is a fairly classic behavior model, despite being focused on performance. The model says that an individual’s performance, or behavior, is influenced by three different factors, their capacity, their opportunity and their willingness.

The underlying factors that drive performance or behavior in this model are similar to those which appear in some other popular models.

Put simply, this model says that an individual’s performance at work (which can be thought of as their behaviors in a specific situation) is a function of their willingness, their capacity and their opportunity to perform well.

Additionally, the model says that each of those three factors affect the other factors. For example an individual’s capacity for work will affect their opportunity for work and their willingness for work.

Though this model relates specifically to performance, and has been used to consider performance in the sporting arena as well as the work-place, it’s also a useful model for considering behavior in any circumstance.

Behavior change

In terms of behavior change, the model implies that to change an individuals performance, you should change their capacity (ability), their willingness or their opportunity.

Furthermore, an increase in any one of these areas should automatically lead to a marginal increase in the other two areas as well.

How willing or able would you be to do this? And do you have the opportunity?

The World of Work Project View

This model is a useful framework to think about, particularly in the work place. One thing that we particularly like about it in the work context is the capturing of “opportunity” as a specific factor contributing to performance. In many workplaces leaders and managers allocate responsibility for performance solely to the person they are considering, but in reality they as leaders also have a role to play through shaping opportunity. 

This model is derived from some earlier models that focus on motivation and ability, and those factors are roughly what it covers with its capacity and willingness factors. These two earlier factors sometimes appear in the workplace with the rhyming “skill and will” matrix.

In summary, while this model isn’t our favorite model, it’s still a useful tool to use when considering individual performance.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on interpretations of original work by Melvin Blumberg and Charles Pringle and published in their 1982 Academy of Management article: “The Missing Opportunity in Organizational Research: Some Implications for a Theory of Work Performance“.


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