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Assess the contributions of Scientific Management and the Hawthorne Studies to the development of Organizational Behaviour as a management discipline

By JaneDottin Oct 07, 2014 1826 Words
Regardless of what club, social group or committee you are a part of, we come to recognize that an individual’s belief and feelings about themselves, their co-members and the particular group they are in can shape what they do and how well they do it. Hence, it is no different with organizations and how they influence individuals and groups in the workplace to attain a purposeful behaviour that output will be beneficial to both the corporation and the individual.

Over the centuries, the organization’s focus was on itself rather than incorporating the worker as an asset to the business. This has lead some businesses to make a loss in productivity while some may have made a profit though the financial gain was marginal. Several theorists have studied and experimented on various scientific techniques to come up with ways that would be helpful to businesses today.

The purpose of this essay is to assess the contributions of Scientific Management and the Hawthorne Studies to the development of Organizational Behaviour as a management discipline. Therefore, in order to dissect the above topic, some key terms will be defined that is Scientific Management, The Hawthorne Studies, Organizational Behaviour and the OB Model.

Scientific Management is defined as the hypothesis of management focusing on the “one best way” to a job to increase individual workers’ productivity using time and motion study of men at work, which essentially measuring motivation. Frederick Winslow Taylor, a theorist, believed that labour productivity could be improved by scientifically determined management practices and this earned him the status of “founder of scientific management” according to (Quible, 2004, p. 13). Unlike Scientific Management, the Human Relations Movement which surfaced in the 1900s birthed out of the field of psychology which looked at motivation and attitudes in justifying workers’ behaviour, the focus was on the environment and how conducive it was to workers’ productivity in addition to the job itself according to (Vecchio, 2006, p. 10). Elton Mayo, one of the proponents of the Human Relations Movement at the Hawthorne Plant of Western Electric Company conducted a series of experiments known as the Hawthorne Studies which formed a basis for some of the concepts that later emerged.

In agreement with Daft, Organizational Behaviour is a field of study combining of or relating to more than one academic discipline that focuses on behaviour of individuals and groups in organizations (Daft, 2003, p. 480). It derives from disciplines such as psychology, anthropology, sociology and social psychology to name a few. These studies seek to explain, to measure and to change the behaviour in individuals and how to implement and reduce barriers to change as well as studying people in relations to their fellow human beings or to the organization and the environment. Hence, the OB Model or organizational behaviour model is “a perception of some real-world observable fact of reality, using independent and dependent variables associated with the organization, the group and the individual levels.

The 1800s and early 1900s era, organizations were concerned with obtaining increased productivity and so, Frederick Winslow Taylor, an Engineer at the Midvale and Bethlehem Steel Companies in Pennsylvania, a major contributor to this approach, use scientific methods to identify “one best way to do a job and to select and train employees” (Quible, 2004, p. 13), his belief lies “where there is a best machine for each job, also there is a best work method by which individuals should carry out their jobs” (Mullins, 2007, p. 55). Taylor wanted to create a work environment where work would be more satisfying and profitable for workers and the need for management and employees to work together to maximise profits. Hence, he defined some principles to guide management to increasing output which are, the development of a true science for each person’s work, the scientific selection, training and growth of workers, co-operate with the workers to ensure work is carried out in a prescribed way, division of work and responsibility between management and the employees. Taylor went about this by standardizing and dividing up work into small repetitive tasks where workers were then assigned to a task that they were most suited to, these methods are known as division of labour and job specialisation, this view caused almost all responsibility of the workers to be removed.

The various tests studied by Taylor, reported by Hersey & Blanchard, stated that management was “to be divorced from human affairs and emotions giving back managers their control over the workers and this was a very important part of scientific management and it resulted in workers having to adjust to their employers and not the other way around” (Hersey & Blanchard, 2001). To accomplish this Taylor initiated time and motion studies to analyze the work tasks to improve performance in every area of the organization. Thus, Taylor applied his ideas on scientific management to the experiment of the “pig” iron, where the job was to load 100 pound pig slabs onto a railroad car. Evidently, the group of men were loading an average of 121/2 tons of pig iron per man a day, Taylor wanted this speed to increase so, an incentive pay scheme along with rest periods were offered, the Dutch labourer was motivated by the offer and accepted hence, his output increased to 471/2 tons per day. The labourer’s pay increased 61 percent while his productivity moved to 280 percent. Clearly, the management was benefiting more from the labourer’s enlarged output; consequently, Taylor’s assumption was that greater rewards would make the workers more problematic to handle (Vecchio, 2006, p. 9) and so a 60 percent minimum wage was maintained. Another group of men were selected and trained using the same method. This group of men grew bored and thought the work was repetitive and slow. It is observable in these two tests the dependent variables’ productivity and turnover was affected by independent variables which is motivation and perception. The Dutch worker was motivated by the incentive scheme and as a result production rose. On the other hand, the noted theorist perception of the workers caused the organization to fear mass redundancies because the workers found the work boring and involving little skill.

These contributions were significant to the development of Organizational Behaviour in that they introduced systematic selection and training procedures, it provided a way to study workplace efficiency, and it encouraged the idea of systematic organizational design. Also, these principles were seen as a set of rules offering general solutions to common problems of organization and management. The principles of standardization and having clearly defined rules are a common theme within many contemporary organisations. Clear rules are a necessity today especially where delegation and decentralisation exist. This shows how this principle has developed. Taylor had a more autocratic style of management where workers were just told what to do through these clear rules; now in many organisations, a democratic style is used to empower and motivate employees and so clear rules are necessary for a different reason, that is, for employees to see what individual responsibilities they hold.

In the late 1920s, Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works originally started full scale appreciation of the importance norms played in influencing worker behaviour; this provided the main thrust to the development of Human Relations Movement. Elton Mayo was one of the main philosophers of this movement; Mayo conducted the Hawthorne Studies as stated in (Quible, 2004). “Mayo and his associates argued that in addition to seeking the best methods to improve output that it would be beneficial to management to look into human affairs” (Hersey & Blanchard, 2001). The studies were on illumination experiments, the relay assembly test room, the interviewing programme and the bank wiring observation room. The workers were divided into two groups, an experimental and control group. The production increase with no apparent relationship to the level of the lightning, and the tests carried out on illumination showed what social conditions could affect productivity. In addition to the other tests, especially the relay test room, from an observable fact although physical elements are very important to people, social and physical attention from others could make individuals improve productivity deeply. Therefore, supervisors could respect them and pay more attention to them during the work. More importantly, it indicated that how work groups offer ‘mutual support and effective resistance to management schemes to increase output’ According to (Robbins & Judge, 2009). Workers didn't follow traditional motivational ways as suggested in the Scientific Management and Taylor approaches, but workers could also accept those approaches in their own work group. Consequently, the Hawthorne studies changed management greatly, particularly to the classical approach of management including how to manage human resources, which was called informal social relations among group members. The human relation approach recognised the importance of the informal groups which will influence the motivation of employees who will view the organization for which they work through the values and attitudes of their colleagues.

In conclusion, it can be agreed that both Scientific Management and the Hawthorne Studies formed the foundation of some of the early theories of motivation propounded by other founding fathers of the motivation theories and have contributed greatly to the development of Organizational Behaviour. It can also be concluded that Taylor principles increased productivity, cut costs and increased wages. They allowed unskilled workers to be employed. After the advantages of scientific management are analysed it can be seen that many of these methods are used today in one way or another because the same basic contradictions and pressures face managers at the start of the twenty-first century as they did at the beginning of the twentieth. Furthermore, the Hawthorne Studies have indeed brought about many contributions to the norms of behaviour in the workplace. It totally changed classical management, and the study of management started to focus on not only physical conditions, but also social and psychological situations. The Hawthorne studies suggested how social elements affect productivity, especially manager’s attention and members’ relationships in the group. People are born and educated in organizations, acquire most of their material possessions from organizations, and die as members of organizations. Hence, many of our activities are regulated by organizations called governments, and most adults spend the better part of their lives working in organizations. Since organizations influence our lives so powerfully, we have every reason to be concerned about how and why those organizations function.

Works Cited
Behaviour, O., 2014. The Nature of Organizational Behaviour handout. s.l.:Tutorial handout unpublished. Hersey, P. & Blanchard, J., 2001. Management of Organizational Behavior. 8 ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Mullins, L. J., 2007. Management and Organizational Behaviour. 8 ed. Essex, England: Financial Times, Pentice Hall. Quible, Z. K., 2004. Administrative Office Management. 8 ed. New Jersey: Pearson Hall. Robbins, S. P. & Judge, 2009. Organizational Behavior. 13 ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. Vecchio, R. P., 2006. Organizational Behavior: Core Concepts. 6 ed. Mason, Ohio: South-Western Thomson part of the Thomson Corporation.

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