Hawthorne studies

Hawthorne studies

Although the depression and the labor movement were at least, important indirect causes of the practice of the human relations, the Hawthorne studies dominate the academic discussion on historical development. The studies gave academic status to the study of organizational behavior. The studies were carried out at the western electric company's Hawthorne works in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, and are closely linked with the name of Elton Mayo. As professor of industrial research at the Hayward school of Business Administration, Mayo was the person, must responsible for conducting the studies publishing their significance. Naturally, he is called the "father of human relations movement". When they started, the Hawthorne studies reflect the scientific management tradition of seeking greater efficiency by improving the tools and methods of the work in this case lighting. GE wanted to sell more tube lights, so, along with the other electric companies; it supported studies on the relationship between lighting and productivity that were too conducted by the National research Council. The research involved three sets of studies.

Phase 1: illumination experiments: this experiment was conducted to know the impact of illumination on productivity. The experiment involved the prolonged observation of the two groups of employees making telephone relays. The intensity of the light under which one group work (test group) systematically varied while the light was held constant for the second group (control group). The productivity of the test group and control group increased. The researchers concluded that some variables were containing the effects of the light changes.

Phase 2: relay assembly test group: a small group of the workers was placed in a separate room and a number of variables were altered -like wages were increased, rest periods of varying lengths were introduces, the workday and work week were shortened. The supervisors, who acted as observers, also allowed the groups to choose their own rest periods and members of their own group and to involve in decision making regarding suggested changes. Performance tended to increase over the period but it also increased also decreased erratically.

Phase 3: bank wiring observation room experiment (1931 to 1932): in this experiment, 14 male workers were formed into a work group and intensively observed for seven months in the bank wiring room, engaged in the assembly of terminal banks for the use in the telephone exchanges. The employees were paid individual wages and a bonus based on group effort. It was expected that highly efficient workers would bring pressure on the others for increased output and for the high bonus. However, the expected results did not come about and indeed the group developed specific mechanisms to protect themselves based on certain sentiments:

The rate buster sentiment: do not turn too much work.

The chiseler sentiment: do not turn too little work

The squealer sentiment: do not tell superiors anything that would harm an associate.

The officious sentiment: do not too officious in performing duties; conform rather to the group norms.

Work group norms, benefits, sentiments had a greater impact in influencing individual behavior than did the monetary incentives offered by the management. Thus, the Hawthorne experiments indicated that employees were not only economic beings but social and psychological beings as well as. 

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