Significance Of Hawthorne Studies For Modern Organizational Development

Posted under Uncategorized on Monday 4 February 2013 at 11:51 pm

Read more about Hawthorne effect here.

Evhawthorne studiesery manager must consider his group or organization as a dynamic developing social structure, which must not be taken as just a working machine. Friendly climate among the group members, proper feedback, openness of the administrators and attention to every single individual of working group make the employees feel more comfortable at work and, as a result, respond with better productivity.

The Hawthorn Studies demonstrate that it is good not only to establish employee’s duties, obligations and responsibilities, but also to stimulate his self-recognition, individuality, importance and pride, to make him feel involved into the whole process of work, starting from setting up the standards and ending with calculation of financial reward. In order to receive a good response, an employer must challenge his employees and encourage them to put their heart into the work. Employees must feel satisfied with what they have produced and the reward they have received for good output.

Recently the results Hawthorne studies came under the wave of severe criticism. A group of modern theorists headed by Berkley Rice defeats the discovered  principles and calls it “Hawthorne Defect”.  These specialists claim that the Hawthorne experiments were not very correct and effective from scientific point of view due to mistakes in investigational schemes, lack of control teams, etc. They refer to contemporary experiments, which were carried out under more severe control and did not demonstrate results similar to outcomes of Hawthorne experiments. Other researchers also admit lack of purity of Hawthorne experiments. For example, the majority of volunteers from Hawthorne plant were young men, who worked at highly developed factory, had good education and high motivation. Besides, the conclusions, made about the importance of social factors for productivity, were made mostly based on the results of the experiments with young ladies, the employees of the plant. And the fact that women actually evaluate social issues much more, than men, is known.

But at the same time, there are numerous practical cases, which prove legitimacy and effectiveness of hawthorne effect. Medical experiment, which took place in 1978 in the Department of Neuro-augmentive Surgery at the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, is one of such examples. A group of adult patients suffering cerebral palsy entered the experiment on improving their motor dysfunction. All of the participants were treated with good powerful cerebellar neuro-stimulators together with extra care and attention from the side of researchers and medical personnel of the Institute. Shortly all the patients informed about considerable improvements of their motor function and expressed enormous satisfaction with the treatment course. But, surprisingly, following medical tests did not indicate any progress of motor function of any patient. So, in this case hawthorne effect worked perfectly and brought to psychological improvements of patients as a result of extra attention.

Summarizing all the above data, it is possible to identify hawthorne effect as a helping tool when measuring attitude or behavior of an individual (for example, an employee or a patient). The main idea of hawthorne effect is: when people are aware that they are being supervised, they change their behavior. Therefore, hawthorne effect proves that participants of an experimental group always try to optimize their behavior or output, knowing that they are being measured. Scientific meaning of hawthorne effect, can be expressed as the following: in order to receive true and accurate information during an experiment, the structure of such experiment must be designed in such a way, which guarantees elimination or minimization of outer influence from the side of conductors of this experiment. In case if such minimization can not be provided and guaranteed, a special “distortion” of the results must be taken into account when making conclusions.

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