Research Objectives

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Research Topic

This research will look at the link between employee satisfaction and work output in the Human Resource Management (HRM) movement.

Research Background

There are many theories and models such as Taylor’s Scientific Management, McGregor’s theory X and theory Y and Mayo’s Hawthorne studies, relating to work output and how and what can impact this.

Between 1924 and 1932 Elton Mayo carried out a series of experiments known as the Hawthorne studies. Mayo and his team wanted to identify what aspects of workers environment would maximise worker output (Miller, 2012). They carried out four phases of experiments and Mayo and his team concluded that worker output increased as a “direct result of the attention paid to the worker by the researchers” (Miller, 2012:P.39). The term the ‘Hawthorne effect’ coined from this study relates to the belief that changes in behaviour are affected by the attention given to individuals.

There are many critiques of the Hawthorne studies, including Khan (1975) who stated that the findings were more likely to be associated to participation in a brief experiment rather than a response to attention from managers and researchers.

Prior to these experiments the emphasis of employers was around work efficiency, however from the 1930’s onwards this began to change with the focus being on employee satisfaction. This is said to be the start of the HRM movement (Giri, 2008).

The research question came from an interest in the HRM movement and the link Mayo identified between employee satisfaction and output which in turn affects profitability. Numerous amounts of research and literature support this link, however a piece of research carried out by Abbott (2002) indicates that there is an inverse relationship in the technology industry in particular. This is supported by another piece of research by students from Bristol Business School, who identified a similar trend with employees from the retail chain Debenhams....
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