Hawthorne Experiments – Elton Mayo | Other Best Approaches & Studies in Management



Approaches, Hawthorne Experiments & Studies in Management - Knowledge Showledge
Various Approaches, Hawthorne Experiments & Studies in Management – Knowledge Showledge


Behavioural Approach

Behavioural approach consider organisations as groups of individuals with objectives. The realistic model given by behavioural scientists is quit complex and the model suggests that different people react differently to the same situation or react the same way to different situations. The manager should alter and customize his approach to control people according to their individual needs.

The behavioural approach to organisational differences and change is quite practical. It says that:-

  • Conflict is inevitable and sometimes is even desirable and should be faced with understanding and determination.
  • Every organisational change involves technological and social aspects, also it is generally the social aspect of a change that people resist.

A new school of thought known as the management process school came into existence, which drew motivation from Fayol.


Hawthorne Experiments & Hawthorne Effect

The term was coined in 1950 by Henry A. Landsberger experiments from 1924-1932 at Hawthorne Works.

Hawthorne Experiments (works) had commissioned a study to see if its workers become more productive in higher or lower levels of light. The workers productivity seemed to impower when changes were made. It was suggested that the productivity increases due to motivation effect on the workers.

  • Hawthorne plant of the General Electric Company Chicago Telephone system belt; Assistance from National Academy of Sciences; 30000 employees.
  • Illumination experiments 1924-1927; Relay assembly test room experiments 1927-1928; Conducting plant wise interviews 1928-1930; Determination and analysis of social organisation at work, bank wiring, observation room experiments 1931-1932; Interviews to find workers attitudes- 20000.


The original inspiration for the movement, however, came from the Hawthorne experiments done by Prof Elton Mayo and his colleagues at the Western Electric Company’s plant in Cicero, Illinois from 1927-1932 The experiment undergoes the following way:-

Illumination Experiments 

  • It was the first step of this study and the experiment was conducted on a group of workers.
  • When their productivity was measured at various levels of illumination, the results were unpredictable.
  • The researchers got puzzled and improved their methodology.
  • Then, they set up two groups of workers in different buildings, one group called the control group who worked under a consistent and constant level of illumination.
  • The other group called the test group worked under changing levels of illumination.
  • The post-test productivity was compared and it was found that production was affected by illumination.

Relay Assembly Test Room

In this phase the objective of the study was different:-

  • It now aimed at knowing not only the impact of illumination production but also the impact of factors such as the length of the working day, relaxation intermission and their frequencies, duration and other physical conditions.
  • A group of six women workers who were friendly with each other, were selected for this experiment. These women workers were asked to work in a very informal and relaxed atmosphere, as if no one is observing them. The supervisor researcher acted as their friend and guide.
  • During the study, several variations were made in the working conditions to find which combination of conditions was the most ideal for production.
  • Surprisingly, the researchers found that the production of the group had no correlation to the working conditions.
  • Following factors were considered responsible for the above stated incident:-
    • Feeling of importance and acknowledgement among the women because of their participation in the research and the attention they got.
    • As six women were friends and that is why working in a familiar, relaxed way was an enjoyable activity with no fear of stringent supervision.
    • High group cohesion was understood as another important factor.

    Interviewing Programme  

    • It was the third phase of the Hawthorne experiment. Its objective was to identify the basic factors responsible for human behaviour at work.
    • The researchers interviewed more than 20000 workers and revealed that the workers, social relations inside the organisation had a clear influence on their attitudes and behaviours.

    Bank Wiring Observation Room

    The purpose of this study was to find how payment incentives would affect productivity. The study was conducted by Elton Mayo and W Lloyd Warner between 1931 and 1932 on a group of fourteen men who put together telephone switching equipment. The researcher found that although the workers were paid according to individual productivity, productivity decreased because the men were afraid that the company would lower the base rate.


    Implications of Hawthorne Experiments  

    • Social factors in output
    • Group influence
    • Conflict
    • Leadership
    • Supervision
    • Communication


    Criticism of Hawthorne

    • Did not focus to the attitudes that people bring them to the workplace.
    • Did not recognize forces as class consciousness, the role of unions, other extra plant forces.
    • Typical, unpleasant place, cannot be generalized-Hawthorne plant.
    • Workers means to an end; not an end himself.
    • The Hawthorne effect denotes to a type of reactivity in which people amend a feature of their behaviour in reaction to their consciousness of being observed. Explanations of this famous and extraordinary effect, which was discovered in the framework of study conducted at the Hawthorne Western Electric plant, some researchers feel turned out to be fictitious.


    The Human Relations Movement

    Managers started observing that employees do not follow predetermined and balanced patterns of behaviour. Managers started dealing more effectively with the ‘people side of their organisation.


    Quantitative Approach  

    • This approach originated during World War II when strategists tried to apply scientific knowledge and methods to the complex problems of war.
    • George Dantzig developed linear programming, an algebraic method to determine the optimal allocation of scarce resources.
    • The advent of the computer made many management science tools and concepts more practical and applicable for the industry.
    • Management information system made all this more significant to the management practices as it provided information needed to managers in a useful format and at the proper time.
    • Production and operations management came into focus and developed into an identifiable area of management study after World War II, although it has its roots in scientific management.
    • W Edwards Deming exerted tremendous influence in shaping modern ideas about improving productivity and quality.
    • The areas like capacity planning, facilities location, materials requirement planning, scheduling, purchasing, inventory control and quality control are the important areas to be studied in operations management.


    Social Systems Approach

    Chester Barnard, George Homans, Philip Selznick and Herbert Simon have contributed their best in conceptualizing the systems approach, which are as follows:-

    • A system is a set of inter-development parts, which together form a unitary whole that performs some function. The interdependent parts of an organisation are task, structure, people and technology.
    • A system can be either open or closed. It is considered as open if it interacts with its environment. A system is as considered closed if it does not interact with the environment. Traditional organisation theorists regarded organisations as closed systems while, according to the modern view, organisations are open systems, constantly interacting with their environments.
    • Every system has its own boundaries, which separates it from other systems in the environment. In open system boundaries are penetrable and in closed system boundaries cannot be penetrated.
    • The function of management is to be the linking pin among the various sub-systems and facilitate the flow of communication.
    • Every system has flows of information, material and energy. These things enter the system as inputs and exist the system as outputs.
    • The inputs of a business organisation are raw materials, equipment, human effort, technology and information.
    • The outputs are in the form of goods, services and satisfactions.
    • The output of a system is always more than the combined output of its parts. This is called synergy. In organisational terms synergy refers to the increase in productivity when separate departments within an organisation co-operate, coexist and interact as compared to the productivity when they acted in isolation.


    Contingency Approach

    According to this approach, management values and concepts of various schools have no universal applications. There is no optimal or single best way of doing things under all conditions.

    • It means that methods and techniques which are highly effective in one situation, may not work in other situations. Results differ because situations differ.
    • The given approach suggests that the task of managers is to identify which technique will best suit the situation and help in attaining the management goals.
    • Thus, managers need to employ a sort of situational sensitivity and practical selectivity.

    2 thoughts on “Hawthorne Experiments – Elton Mayo | Other Best Approaches & Studies in Management”

    Leave a Comment