The Hawthorne Experiments and Human Behavior
Elton Mayo's studies grew out of preliminary experiments at the Hawthorne plant from 1924 to 1927 on the effect of light on productivity. Those experiments showed no clear connection between productivity and the amount of illumination but researchers began to wonder what kind of changes would influence output.
Variables Affecting Productivity
Specifically, Elton Mayo wanted to find out what effect fatigue and monotony had on job productivity and how to control them through such variables as rest breaks, work hours, temperature and humidity. In the process, he stumbled upon a principle of human motivation that would help to revolutionize the theory and practice of management.
Elton Mayo selected two women, and had those two select an additional four from the assembly line, segregated them from the rest of the factory and put them under the eye of a supervisor who was more a friendly observer than disciplinarian.
Mayo made frequent changes in their working conditions, always discussing and explaining the changes in advance.
The group was employed in assembling telephone relays - a relay being a small but intricate mechanism composed of about forty separate parts which had to be assembled by the girls seated at a lone bench and dropped into a chute when completed.
The relays were mechanically counted as they slipped down the chute. The intent was to measure the basic rate of production before making any environmental changes. Then, as changes were introduced, the impact to effectiveness would be measured by increased or decreased production of the relays.
Throughout the series of experiments, an observer sat with the girls in the workshop noting all that went on, keeping the girls informed about the experiment, asking for advice or information, and listening... [continues]
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