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ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT (ES24)
The Hawthorne Studies
Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The Hawthorne Studies
The Hawthorne Studies are experiments which inspired Elton Mayo and others to develop the Human Relations Movement. These were conducted by the Western Electric Company of Chicago to measure the impact of different working conditions (such as levels of lighting, payment systems, and hours of work) on output of work employees do. The researchers, Fritz Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson, concluded that variations in output were not caused by changing physical conditions or material rewards but partly by the experiments themselves. The special treatment required by experimental participation convinced workers that management had a particular interest in them. This raised morale and led to increased productivity.
The term ‘Hawthorne effect’ is now widely used to refer to the behavior-modifying effects of being the subject of social investigation, regardless of the context of the investigation. More generally, the researchers concluded that supervisory style greatly affected worker productivity.
Elton Mayo's Hawthorne Studies
The Hawthorne Studies (also known as the Hawthorne Experiments) were conducted from 1927 to 1932 at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). This is where Professor Elton Mayo examined the impact of work conditions in employee productivity. Elton Mayo started these experiments by examining the physical and environmental influences of the workplace (e.g. brightness of lights, humidity) and later, moved into the psychological aspects (e.g. breaks, group pressure, working hours, managerial leadership) and their impact on employee motivation as it applies to productivity.
The Hawthorne Effect
In essence, the Hawthorne Effect, as it applies to the workplace, can be summarized as "Employees are more productive because the employees know they are being studied." Elton Mayo's experiments showed an increase in worker productivity was produced by the psychological stimulus of being singled out, involved, and made to feel important.
Additionally, the act of measurement, itself, impacts the results of the measurement. Just as dipping a thermometer into a vial of liquid can affect the temperature of the liquid being measured, the act of collecting data, where none was collected before creates a situation that didn't exist before, thereby affecting the results. The major finding of the study was that almost regardless of the experimental manipulation employed, the production of the workers seemed to improve. One reasonable conclusion is that the workers were pleased to receive attention from the researchers who expressed an interest in them. The study was only expected to last one year, but because the researchers were set back each time they tried to relate the manipulated physical conditions to the worker's efficiency, the project extended out to five years.
Four general conclusions were drawn from the Hawthorne studies:
• The aptitudes of individuals are imperfect predictors of job performance. Although they give some indication of the physical and mental potential of the individual, the amount produced is strongly influenced by social factors.
• Informal organization affects productivity. The Hawthorne researchers discovered a group life among the workers. The studies also showed that the relations that supervisors develop with workers tend to influence the manner in which the workers carry out directives.
• Work-group norms...
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