Hawthorne Studies And The Development Of Hawthorne Effect Theory

Posted under Uncategorized on Tuesday 22 January 2013 at 4:17 am

(Read the first part of the article here).

During the experiments in the framework of Hawthorne studies, the employees demonstrated a stable rise of productivity in those groups, where there was a good contact established between them and their supervisor. As soon as the members of experimental group started receiving attention and encouragement from their boss, they recognized themselves as individuals, as important people, not just “somebody” working at production lines. Correspondently, in those groups, where supervisor did not demonstrate friendly attitude and was sever to the workers, output and efficiency were notably smaller.

During the experiments there were numerous other researching activities, like interviewing the personnel, carrying out work observation tests, etc. The most successful were sessions of personnel counseling, when a qualified management consultant was discussing work related problems with the employees, consulting them and giving professional advise how to make the work more pleasant. These experiments and researches resulted in significant growth of productivity at Hawthorne Plant, Hawthorne Effectimproved all economic indexes, helped to create perfect working environment and received lots of positive reaction from all the employees and administration of the factory. That is why the Studies, which had been supposed to last one year, have been conducting for more than 5 years.

Detailed results of Hawthorne Studies were publicized as a 600-pages book written by a professor from Harvard School of Business Administration and two senior administrators of Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Plant. In this work the most important conclusion is stated as the following idea: all the improvements, which were demonstrated by the experimental group during the Studies, can be understood through the influence of social system on every individual member of the group.

In other words, all the improvements in workers’ performance and productivity must be explained from social positions, not by changes in particular intensity of lightening or shortening of working shift duration. The Studies showed that every workplace must be taken as a complicated social system, which consists of unique characteristics of every personality. That is how the authors comment on such a conclusion: “The work activities of this group, together with their satisfactions and dissatisfactions, had to be viewed as manifestations of a complex pattern of interrelations.”  (from “The Hawthorne Effect and Its Relationship to Stuttering.” John Harrison).

But, probably, the most important finding of the Studies was the fact that productivity of any working group can be influenced and improved by manipulating with physical, social or psychological characteristics of working environment. Hawthorne StudiesIt means that any administrator can use a number of hidden indirect controls and methods to improve the response of his subordinates and increase the productivity of the group or organization, using above mentioned environmental variations.

The Studies also demonstrated that the impact of exactly social demands of the employees, both inside and outside of the working group, appeared to be much more important than any material requirements of working environment. For example, it became obvious from the interviews and consultations that it was much more important for the employees to feel respected, appreciated, valued and to be secure at their workplaces, than to be provided with some modern equipment, machinery or developed technology for physical part of their work.

Hawthorne Studies received the best application in developing Human Resource Management theories of evaluating intervention effectiveness. These researches specified instruments and sketched the schemes of stimulating of productivity of the employees, gave some hints about the opportunities of improving efficiency of the personnel, and underlines importance of social factor for achieving good results in organizational operation. It was proved experimentally that such characteristics, like excessive informality in the group of employees or establishing steady fixed norms of output, usually affect productivity.

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