The Implication of Hawthorne Study in 21st Century
Ashab Anis Joy ID: 2012-1-10-255 Class: MGT Course Code: 101 Sec: 7 Semester: Fall East West University
Bachelor of Business Administration East West University 20th November 2012
The Hawthorne Experiments were conducted between 1927 and 1932 at the works of the Western Electric Company in Chicago. Basically the aim of these experiments was to ” attempt to reduce worker dissatisfaction and resist trade union influence by the putting in place of a paternalistic package of social and recreational benefits calculated to sustain workers “loyalty” (Sheldrake 105:1996). Many little assignments were conducted in hope of putting into practice the above theory. Despite the economic progress brought about in party by Scientific Management, critics were calling attention to the severe labour/management conflict, apathy, boredom, and wasted human resources. These concerns lead a number of researchers to examine the discrepancy between how an organisation was supposed to work versus how the workers actually behaved. In addition, factors like World War I, developments in psychology (e.g. Freud) and later the depression, all brought into question some of the basic assumptions of the Scientific Management School. One of the primary critics of the time, Elton Mayo, claimed that this ‘alienation’ stemmed from the breakdown of the social structures caused by industrialisation, the factory system, and its related outcomes such as growing urbanisation. The most famous of these studies were the Hawthorne Studies which showed how work groups provide mutual support and effective resistance to management schemes to increase output. This study found that workers didn’t respond to classical motivational approaches as suggested in the Scientific Management and Taylor approaches, but rather workers were also interested in the rewards and punishments of their own work group. These studies conducted in the 1920’s, started as a straightforward attempt to determine the relationship between work environment and productivity. The results of the research led researches to feel that they were dealing with socio-psychological factors that were not explained by classic theory which stressed the formal organisation and formal leadership. The Hawthorne Studies helped us to see that an organisation is more than a formal arrangement of functions but is also a social system.
The Hawthorne Studies (1927-1932)
The Hawthorne studies were conducted between 1927 and 1932 at Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant near Chicago. (General Electric initially sponsored the research but withdrew its support after the first study was finished.) Several researchers were involved, the best known being Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger, Harvard faculty members and consultants, and William Dickson, chief of Hawthorne`s Employee Relations Research Department. The first major experiment at Hawthorne studied the effects of different levels of lighting on productivity. The researchers systematically manipulated the lighting in the area in which a group of women worked. The group’s productivity was measured and compared with that of another group (the control group) whose lighting was left unchanged. As lighting was increased for the experimental group, productivity went up-but, interestingly, so did the productivity of the control group. Even when lighting was subsequently reduced, the productivity of both groups continued to increase. Not until the lighting had become almost as dim as moonlight did productivity start to decline. This led the researchers to conclude that lighting had no relationship to productivity-and at this point General Electric withdrew its sponsorship of the project! In another major experiment, a piecework incentive system was established for a nine-man group that assembled terminal banks for telephone exchanges. Proponents of scientific management expected each man to work...
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