The Hawthorne Studies
The Hawthorne Studies were conducted from 1927 to 1932 at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois, where Professor Elton Mayo, along with his associates F.J. Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson, examined productivity and work conditions (Clark, 1999). The experiment started as an attempt to determine the effects of lighting on worker productivity. Researchers found that productivity almost always increased after a change in illumination but later returned to normal levels. (“Hawthorne Effect”, n.d.).
When the results showed no clear correlation between light level and productivity, the experimenters started looking at other factors.
Working with a group of six women, the experimenters changed number of variables such as rest breaks, work hours, temperature, humidity, group pressure, and managerial leadership. A test period for each change in the variables continued from four to twelve weeks. An observer sat with the women in the workshop noting all that went on, keeping them informed about the experiment, asking for advice or information, and listening to their complaints. Regardless of the changes, productivity went up at each change. Finally the women were put back to their original hours and conditions, and they set a productivity record (“The Hawthorne Effect - Mayo Studies Motivation”, 2007).
Elton Mayo came to the following conclusions as a result of the study (“The Hawthorne Effect - Mayo Studies Motivation”, 2007):
• The skills of individuals are imperfect predictors of job performance: they give some indication of the physical and mental potential of the individual, but the amount produced is strongly influenced by social factors.
• Informal organization affects productivity: the 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...