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A critical review of the lasting impact of Hawthorne studies

Introduction
Human relations means a school of management that emphasizes the importance of social processes in the organization and its core concept is to view workers’ interactions and relationships in companies. The human relations movement stem from the 1930s' Hawthorne studies thattested the influences of workers’ satisfaction inworkplace (Levitt and List, 2011). Furthermore, it also leads to the origination of the human resource management.

Elton Mayo, one of the most important industrial sociologists in his domain, conducted Hawthorne studies. In Oxford English Dictionary (OED, 1997), ‘Hawthorne effect’ is defined as meaning ‘an improvement in the performance of workers resulting from a change in their working conditions, and caused either by their response to innovation or by the feeling that they are being accorded some attention’. The groundbreaking experiments started in 1927 at the Hawthorne worksin Chicago. The reason why Hawthorne works conducted those studies at first was aimed to see whether those workers could become more effective in a higher level of light or not. Mayo and his associates found out that the productivity improved when changes of any working conditions were made. After several years’ researched, they finally came to a conclusion that the increasing productivity probably due to the impact of the motivational effect on the workers as a result of the interest being shown in them from these experiments. And just as Braverman(1974)pointed out that ‘the Hawthorne tests were based on industrial psychology and were investigating whether workers' performance could be predicted by pre-hire testing’.

The purpose of this essay is to discuss the finding from and repercussions of Mayo’s studies, to analyze the relations between the Hawthorne experiment and the human relations movement theory and provide some critical review about the Hawthorne studies in the 20th century.

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