Hawthorne Studies OB

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The Hawthorne Experiments

HUMAN RELATIONS APPROACHDuring the 1920s, attention began to focus on social factors at work, groups, leadership, the informal organisation and behaviour of people. Behavioural and informal are alternative headings sometimes given to this approach. Turning point came with the famous Hawthorne experiments at the Western Electric Company in America (1924-32) (1924One of the researchers (leader) was ELTON MAYO (1880(1880-1949)2

Human Relations Movement (Hawthorne Studies)1. Illumination Experiments (1924-27): To find out the effect of illumination on worker productivity; 2. Relay Assembly Test Room Experiments (1927-28): To find out the effects of changes in working hours and other working conditions on productivity; 3. Mass Interviewing Programme (1928-30): To find out the worker attitudes and sentiments; 4. Bank Wiring Observation Room Experiments (193132): To find out social aspect of work organization;3

OVERVIEW of ExperimentsIllumination Study (November 1924) Designed to test the effect of lighting intensity on worker productivity Heuristic value: influence of human relations on work behaviorRelay Assembly Test Room Study (1927-1932) (1927 Assembly of telephone relays (35 parts - 4 machine screws) Production and satisfaction increased regardless of IV manipulation Workers increased production and satisfaction related to supervisory practices Human interrelationships are important contributing factors to worker productivity Bottom Line: Supervisory practices increase employee morale AND productivity Interviewing Program (1928-1930) (1928 Investigate connection between supervisory practices and employee morale Employees expressed their ideas and feelings (e.g., likes and dislikes) Process more important than actual results Bank Wiring Room Observation Study (November 1931 - May 1932) Social groups can influence production and individual work behavior RQ: How is social control manifested on the shop floor? Informal organization constrains employee behavior within formal organizational structure Taken together, these studies helped to document the powerful nature of social relations in the workplace and moved managers more toward the interpersonal aspects of organizing.


Illumination StudyResearch began with a study conducted by Hawthorne at Western Electric Company in collaboration the National Research Council to determine the relationship intensity of illumination and efficiency of workers measured in output Two groups doing similar work under similar conditions-Test group and conditionsControl group The intensity of light for one group was varied The intensity of light for the other group was held constant Experiment failed to show relationship between illumination and worker output


Interpretations Changes in worker output were psychological not physiologicalBulbs were changed and workers were allowed to believe that the lighting was increased Worker output increased when workers thought the lighting was increased

Too many uncontrolled variable not taken in account Take human notion in account


Relay Assembly Test RoomBackground: Background: To find out what effect fatigue and monotony had on job productivity and how to control them through variables such as Rest breaks, Work hours, Temperatures ,Humidity 5 girls from an assembly line Segregated them from the rest of the factory Put them under the eye of a supervisor (a friendly observer) Made frequent changes to their working conditions Always discussed and explained the changes in advance7

Relay Assembly Test RoomSeveral changes were made to the working conditionsRest periods of varying lengths Snacks Shortening the work day Shortening the work week Increased and decreased the number of work breaks and the time of the lunch hour Occasionally he would return the women to their original, harder working conditions

12 positive, progressive changes to working conditions sequentially introduced 13th change saw the operatives revert to the original conditions8

InterpretationsFactors that did have an impact on outputWomen were allowed to talk more Absence of supervisory control Knowing that their participation in the experiment would improve working conditions for fellow employees

Increase in output had nothing to do with changes in physical conditions


QUESTIONNAIRE SURVEYinterviews were conducted with the 6 operatives and also with the entire workforce (2000+)output had increased because the operatives had experienced a great increase in job satisfaction through being consulted with, being given some control over what was happening, enjoying good relations with supervisors (the researchers), being made to feel important, and being given a chance to satisfy social needs at work10

Bank Wiring Observation RoomParticipantsNine wiremen Three solder men Two inspectors

Men formed two clear social groups based onMutual exclusion Differences in games played in off hours and other factors


Bank Wiring Observation RoomBank Wiring Observation Room cont CommonalitiesA person could not submit too much work rateratebuster A person could not submit too little work chisler getting paid for work he did not do A person should not say anything that would injure another person squealer No member of the group should act officiously


Bank Wiring Observation RoomBank Wiring Observation Room cont Overall output was satisfactory to the company Industrial worker develops own ways of doing his job own traditions of skill, own satisfactions in living up to his standards Groups are continually formed among workers and the groups develop codes and loyalties which govern the relations of the members to another13

Western Electric CompanyComparison and contrast Relay Assembly Test roomWorkers felt no pressure from supervision Had periodic conferences with the superintendent and were allowed to veto proposed changes Felt important being part of an experiment Developed informal social organizations Organized in co-operation in management co-


Western Electric CompanyComparison and contrast cont Bank Wiring Observation RoomMen were afraid of supervision Had to respond to technical changes which they did not originate Organized in opposition to management


Lessons from the Hawthrone Studies Behavioral ViewpointEmployees are motivated by social needs and association with others Employees performance is more a result of peer pressure than managements incentives and rules Managers need to involve subordinates in coordinating their work to improve efficiency

Employees want to participate in decisions that affect them

Chapter 2: PowerPoint 2.21

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS FROM THE HAWTHORNE STUDIES:the amount of work a person does depends not so much on physical strength or dexterity, or even on the physical conditions of work - it depends on the social conditions surrounding the work non economic rewards can motivate to a greater extent than high wages specialisation and the division of labour might not be efficient - variety and the use of initiative can stimulate creativity and interest to the extent that output is increased individuals perceive themselves to be members of groups, and standards of behaviour often arise from these and not from management17

SUMMARYFour Main Phases to the Hawthorne Experiments The Illumination Experiments - level of production was influenced by factors other than changes in physical conditions of work. The Relay Assembly Test Room - attention and interest by management reason for higher productivity. The Interviewing Programme -20,000 interviews. Gave impetus to present-day personnel management presentand use of counselling interviews. Highlighted the need for management to listen to workers. The Bank Wiring Observation Room - Piecework Incentive Scheme. Group pressures stronger than financial incentives offered by management.18

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