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Hawthorne Studies: Elton Mayo: Focusing on Human Relations Elton Mayo (1880-1949), the Father of the Human Relations

s Approach, led the team which conducted a study at Western Electrics Hawthorne plant between 1927and 1933 to evaluate the attitudes and psychological reactions of workers in on-the-job situations. The researchers and scholars associated with the Hawthorne experiments were Elton Mayo, Fritz Roethlisberger, T.N Whitehead and William Dickson. Contributions of Hawthorne experiments The Hawthorne experiments, which laid the foundation for the Human Relations Movement, made significant contributions to the evolution of management theory. Elton Mayo and the Hawthorne Studies Pre-judgments Job performance depends on the individuals worker. Fatigue is the main factor affecting output. Management sets production standards. Findings The group is the key factor in job performance. Perceived meaning and importance of the work determine output. Workplace culture sets its own production standards.

Criticism of Hawthorne studies The Hawthorne studies have received considerable criticism. They have been criticized on the following grounds: 1. The procedures, analysis of findings, and the conclusions reached were found to be questionable. Critics felt that the conclusions were supported by little evidence. 2. The relationship made between the satisfaction or happiness of workers and their productivity was too simplistic. 3. These studies failed to focus attention on the attitudes of employees at the workplace. Research Studies In the 1920s and 30s, Elton Mayo and F. J. Roethlisberger of Harvard University conducted industrial experiments at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric company. Their studies brought our a positive correlation between productivity and worker participation. The Hawthorne studies concluded that the worker is the most important element in an organization. RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR The various research studies conducted and theories propounded in different parts of the world created a strong base for organizational behavior. Some of the studies and theories Which have served as landmarks in the field of organizational behavior are Hawthorne Studies, Theory X and Theory Y, and Theory Z.

Hawthorne Studies The illumination experiments In these set of experiments, researchers modified the level of illumination i.e. the intensity of light, to determine its effect on productivity These experiments showed that productivity of workers was influenced by some other variable and not merely by illumination. There experiments revealed that there is some other variable beyond wages, hours of work, working conditions that made a significant impact on productivity. The test room participants did not behave the way the economic man model (this model states that employees are predominantly motivated by money) predicted. Group acceptance appeared to be more important to the worker than money. Thus, these experiments provided some insights into informal social relations within groups. Many behavioral scientists believe that production increase in the relay room was due to the fact that the participants received more attention and it was altogether a new experience for them. This was termed as the Hawthorne effect. Though there may be an unintentional bias, the Hawthorne Studies laid the foundation for the Human Relations movement and was responsible for the development of various concepts like participatory management, team building etc.