Chapter 13: The Hawthorne Studies
“The Social Person” was not invented by these studies, but was brought to a wider recognition by those who interpreted the results. The studies have been widely publicized, misinterpreted, praised, and criticized over the many years since the event. The studies continue to generate articles and presentations. Hawthorne Plant History & Time Line
1905: Western Electric moved to Cicero, Illinois
1914: Absorbed operations from New York & Chicago
1924-1933: Hawthorne Studies
1932-1938: Harvard researchers continued research
1940: Peak production with 42,000 workers employed
1958: Western Electric Statistical Quality Control Handbook
Illumination Studies: 1924-1927
The original research issue was the effect of workplace illumination on worker productivity. Those who came initially to Hawthorne were electrical engineers from MIT. Another attempt was made with a control group and a variable group, placed in separate buildings. In this case output went up in both groups. The illumination research was abandoned in 1927. One of the researchers, Charles E. Snow of MIT, concluded there were too many variables and the “psychology of the human individual” could have been the most important one. The Relay Assembly Test Room 1927-1933
George Pennock had an excellent insight: Supervision was a better explanation. The participants were volunteers, knew the objectives of the study, and were observed for a short period in their regular department prior to going to a separate room with their observer. After eight months into the experiment, two of the original participants were replaced. A number of changes were introduced
The incentive payment plan was changed such that the relay assembly group was rewarded on their output rather than on the output of the larger relay assembly department. Secondly, Participants were told they could make more money under this arrangement. Lastly, Participants were allowed to talk to each other during the work day. Dr. Clair Turner - Early Interpretation
Dr. Clair Turner of MIT had an interpretation of the test results: The small group resulted in more esprit de corps. Difference in the style of supervision. Increased earnings: average wage went from $16 to $28-50 per week while in the Test Room. The novelty of the experiment. The attention given to the operators by others at the plant.
The Interviewing Program: 1929-1930
Snow and Hibarger started asking the workers directed questions about their feelings. Elton Mayo (1880-1949) made a contribution by changing the interviewing program to a nondirective approach. He believed that supervisors need to listen more. With the nondirective approach the length of the interviews and the information gathered increased. There appeared to be a cathartic effect. After a worker complained, follow-up interviews revealed that the complaint was gone. The workers felt better even though no change in conditions had occurred. “Fact” and “sentiment” had to be separated. Two levels of complaints:
Manifest – what the employee said
Latent – the psychological content of the complaint
Complaints were symptoms to be explored. “Pessimistic reveries” (negative attitudes held by employees that could interfere with their performance – according to Mayo) could be reduced if supervisors were concerned and listened to their employees.
Group Behavior: Bank Wiring Test Room (1931-1932)
Researchers found that work groups: Deliberately restricted output,Smoothed out production and Developed intragroup disciplinary methods Some workers were isolates, not in a clique, because of various factors Rules for clique membership:
1. Do not work too fast. (“Rate buster”)
2. Do not work too slowly. (“Rate chiseler”)
3. Do not “squeal” on a member of your group.
4. Do not act officious or be socially distant.
Factory as a social organization; work groups served to protect the workers within their group, and to protect the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document