Hawthorne Studies

Topics: Management, Hawthorne effect, Labour relations Pages: 5 (1484 words) Published: February 25, 2012
In the early century, human beings were considered to be a little more than attached to machines since the Industrial Revolution (Fountain, 2006, pg 45). The importances of the human relations were not considered a factor to contribute to an organisation growth. In 1924, Hawthorne Studies was first initiated by the Western Electrical Company and National Academy of Science to study on the "relation of quality and quantity of illumination to efficiency in industry" which is known as Illumination studies.(Roethlisberger & Dickson, 2003, pg 14). From 1927-1933, a series of experiments were conducted once again at Western Electric Work and analyzed by Professor George Elton Mayo who is famous for Hawthorne Effects after the failure for the first studies. These experiments initially wanted to find out the environmental variables and then move to psychological aspects on the workers productivity in the organization. Still, Hawthorne studies may not seem as perfect as it is. Other philosophers have argued and criticized Hawthorne studies. In this review, the major criticisms of Hawthorne studies will be discussed and also if it will be applicable to apply it in the Asian society.

The Ideology Critics
Through the entire study of Hawthorne, Mayo wanted to provide a friendly supervision approach and to allow the relation between workers and supervisors to come closer. Mayo justifications are to manipulate workers based on management's ends. In order to secure the workers' cooperative towards the supervisors, the authority of the supervisor must be based on the social skills in order to increase the productivity. But, this method has been strongly criticized by Daniel Bell. In his writing of ‘cow sociologists’, he argued on Mayo's experiments for "psychologizing the workers while ignoring the institutional and power of relationships of industry, and for seeing industrial relations as a problem of communication and leadership rather than accommodation of conflicting of interest" ( Bell, 1947). Bell strongly disagrees with Mayo point of views which is to give in to the workers so as to get the workers to cooperate with them and increase the productivity. Bell argued that with this implementation, this will eventually make the workers to "climb over the head" of the supervisors, hence will result the supervisor to lose their authority on them.

The interviewing program is to undertake to explore workers' attitude. Instead of letting the union to take care of the welfare of the workers, Mayo set up this program to allow workers to confide in the interviewers on the problems that they are facing at work. However, they found out that majority of the people are complaining on their personal life experience. Hence, resulted in the genuine conflict of interest between management and the workers that cannot be resolved by psychotherapy (Gale 2004). Then, majority of the problems that the workers encountered it could not be resolved and Hawthorne studies have failed to recognize other alternative accommodating industrial conflict like collective bargaining.

The Methodology Critics
The methodology critics that gathered aims directly at the Relay Assembly Test Room. One of the conclusions made by Carey was that there is no attempt to establish sample groups representatives of any larger population of the groups themselves (Carey, 1967, pg 416). Mayo has only five subjects to be tested in the studies on the productivity in different conditions. The sample size of the subjects that participate in these experiments could not produce accurate statistic as it is way too small to make any conclusion on the Hawthorne studies. This could not represent the whole industries. Further to that, Mayo only brought women into the test. Men were not included initially. This has result gender biasness on the actual result. The workers have also been working on the same job scope so systematic that they are unable to learn more skills.

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