The Hawthorne experiments were conducted at the Hawthorne Plant of the Western Electric Company in the late 1920s and early 1930s and involved a variety of different studies of workplace behavior. From sole attention focused on environmental conditions of work in the initial illumination experiment, the Hawthorne studies extended to the first relay experiment to investigate effects of working environment, physical requirements, management, and social relations upon output. The subsequent studies were: the second relay experiment, which tested effects of incentive systems; the mica splitting experiment, which tested effects of rest pauses upon performance; the interviewing program, which indicated that relations with management and with peers were important to worker satisfaction, and that informal group organization could be used by workers to regulate and reduce the pace of their work; the bank wiring observation, which confirmed the latter conclusion regarding output restriction, and thus underlined the importance of social relations among workers. In the first relay, second relay, and mica splitting experiments as well as bank wiring observation, research attention was drawn to small group activities. Three separate groups of five female workers participated in the previous three experiments, while 14 male workers were in the bank wiring observation. The final core conclusions that the researchers reached from these experiments were that measured experimental variables such as incentive payment had little effect, while that the unmeasured quality of human relations of workers to management and peer group was responsible for most output improvement. The Hawthorne studies have been described as the most important social science experiment ever conducted in an industrial setting, yet the studies were not without their critics. Several criticisms, including those of sociologist Daniel Bell, focused on the exclusion of unionized workers in the studies....
References: Baker Library, The Hawthorne Effect, Copyright 2010, retrieved from the internet at http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/hawthorne/09.html
Cherry, Kendra. The Hawthorne Effect, Copyright 2011, retrieved from the internet at http://psychology.about.com/od/hindex/g/def_hawthorn.htm
Franke, R. H. & Kaul, J. D. (1978). The Hawthorne experiments: First statistical interpretation. American Sociological Review, 1978, 43, 623-643.
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