Hawthorne experiments

Hawthorne studies were an attempt to investigate the relationship between the level of lighting in the workplace and worker productivity. It was human relations movement that grew out of a famous series of studies that were conducted at the western Electric Co. from 1924 to 1933 and was eventually coined as the “Hawthorne Studies” as many of them were preformed at Western Electrics Hawthorne plant near Chicago.

In earlier studies, the researchers divided employees into test groups. These test groups were subjected to deliberate changes in lighting, and control groups, whose lighting remained constant throughout the experiments. The experimentation delivered uncertain and unclear results. The productivity increased but erratically when the test group lighting was improved. Even when lighting conditions were worse, the productivity tend to be increasing in the test group. It was clear that there were other factors besides lighting that were influencing worker’s performance.

The new set of experiments were conducted where small group of workers were placed in a separate room with altered variables like increase in wages, shortening of workday and work weeks and introducing rest period of varied length. It was suggested by researchers that groups choosing for their selective rest period should also go for their suggested changes. The results once again were unclear and uncertain. It resulted in increase of performance over time but it rose and fell erratically. Great researchers like Elton Mayo, Fritz J Rosethlisberger and William J Dickson also became involved in these set of experiments. They decided that a complex chain of attitudes has led to the increase in productivity. They had been singled out for special attention. The rest and the control groups had developed a group pride that motivated them to improve their work performance. Their motivation was further reinforced by sympathetic supervision. It was concluded by the researchers that employees will work harder if they believe that management was concerned about their welfare and supervisors are to paying special attention to them. This eventful happening was labeled as the “Hawthorne Effect”.

It was further concluded by researchers that informal work groups and the social environment have a positive influence on productivity. The group pressure proved to be stronger source of influence on worker productivity than management demands.

The findings of Howthorne studies are as follows:

1. The material impact on the efficiency of work is not affected by the physical environment at the working place.

2. The efficiency determining factors are favourable attitudes of workers and work-team towards their work.

3. The morality and efficiency of workmen can be maximized through fulfillment of their social and psychological needs

4. The employee groups that are based on social interactions offers a strong influence on the performance of the organisational workers.

5. Economic rewards can’t be the only motivating factors for workers as other motivators like job security, recognition by superiors, and right to express their opinion on matters also influences them.

According to the human relations approach, the management problems are primarily based on the analysis that the modern organisation is a social system where the social environment and interpersonal relations manages the behaviour of employees.

It highlights that the authority responsibility relationship between superiors and subordinates is directly related to the social and psychological satisfaction of the organisational employees.

It emphasizes on the fact that efficiency in an organisation is achieved through having full cooperation of its employees. It encourages management for the development of social groups on the job. It also encourages in providing opportunities for free expression of thoughts and opinions by employees.

It encourages managers to recognize the importance of democratic leadership. It is because as it will help free flow of communication where subordinates can also be part of decision-making process. It stressed on the fact that the complete employee satisfaction was the best means of achieving higher productivity and efficiency in the organization. It made managers think about the actual social and psychological needs of their employee that can really motivate them. It desired efforts that can create an ideal working environment where people can fulfill their needs as well contribute to organizational goals.

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