The Hawthorne effect — an increase in worker productivity produced by the psychological stimulus of being singled out and made to feel important. Individual behaviors may be altered by the study itself, rather than the effects the study is researching was demonstrated in a research project (1927 - 1932) of the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in Cicero, Illinois. This series of research, first led by Harvard Business School professor Elton Mayo along with associates F. J. Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson started out by examining the physical and environmental influences of the workplace (e.g. brightness of lights, humidity) and later, moved into the psychological aspects (e.g. breaks, group pressure, working hours, managerial leadership). The ideas that this team developed about the social dynamics of groups in the work setting had lasting influence — the collection of data, labor-management relations, and informal interaction among factory employees. The major finding of the study was that almost regardless of the experimental manipulation employed, the production of the workers seemed to improve. One reasonable conclusion is that the workers were pleased to receive attention from the researchers who expressed an interest in them. The study was only expected to last one year, but because the researchers were set back each time they tried to relate the manipulated physical conditions to the worker's efficiency, the project extended out to five years. Four general conclusions were drawn from the Hawthorne studies: * The aptitudes of individuals are imperfect predictors of job performance. Although they give some indication of the physical and mental potential of the individual, the amount produced is strongly influenced by social factors. * Informal organization affects productivity. The Hawthorne researchers discovered a group life among the workers. The studies also showed that the relations that supervisors develop...
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