Hawthorne Effect

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Gynessa Woodard

October 1, 2010

HRDV 5610
Training and Development
Fall1 2010

Professor Margaret Downey

The Hawthorne Effect is a term referring to the tendency of some people to work harder and perform better when they are participants in an experiment. Individuals may change their behavior due to the attention they are receiving from researchers rather than because of any manipulation of independent variables. This effect was first discovered and named by researchers at Harvard University who were studying the relationship between productivity and work environment. Researchers conducted these experiments at the Hawthorne Works plant of Western Electric. The study was originally commissioned to determine if increasing or decreasing the amount of light workers received increased or decreased worker productivity. The researchers found that productivity increased due to attention from the research team and not because of changes to the experimental variable. Later research into the Hawthorne effect has suggested that the original results may have been overstated. In 2009, researchers at the University of Chicago reanalyzed the original data and found that other factors also played a role in productivity and that the effect originally described was weak at best. This is discussed in both articles The Hawthorne studies--a fable for our times?E.A.M. Gale (2004)QJM 97, 439-449 and THE REAL "HAWTHORNE EFFECT".(Hawthorne Studies of industrial relations)Society| January 01, 2001 | Brannigan, Augustine; Zwerman, William.

In our text Robert Noe describes the Hawthorn Effect as employees in an evaluation study performing at a high level due to the attention they are getting. In these two articles it was discussed how employee performance related to productivity. Meaning in the perfect work given the perfect working condition there would be maximum production from employees, or so they thought. At that time it was found that employees were performing at...
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