The Hawthorne Effect
Introduction
The Hawthorne Studies (also knowns as the Hawthorne Experiments) were conducted from 1927 to 1932. This is where professor Elton Mayo examined the impact of work conditions in employee productivity. Elton Mayo started these experiments by examining the physical and environmental influences of the workplace.

In essence, the Hawthorne Effect, as it applies to the workplace, can be summarized as "Employees are more productive because the employees know they are being studied." Elton Mayo's experiments showed an increase in worker productivity was produced by the psychological stimulus of being singled out, involved, and made to feel important.

Mayo manipulated the conditions under which people worked by adjusting such factors as:

  • Levels of heating,
  • Levels of lighting,
  • Length of rest breaks

    and so forth.Each time a particular environmental factor was changed, Mayo measured any resulting changes in worker productivity over time. However, what Mayo discovered from this study was that, no-matter what the environmental conditions, worker productivity always seemed to increase...

    At least two possible explanations could be used to account for this:

  • That environmental conditions make little difference to the way in which people work.
  • The presence of the observer (and the knowledge that they were being watched) somehow changed the behaviour of the workers...

    The Hawthorne Effect is a little known phenomenon of the unconscious mind. A person starts training at something "new". For a few hours or maybe days, there is significant improvement in this training, then, suddenly, no improvement or in some cases; a reverse in training is experienced.

    No one "knows" exactly why this phenomenon is a factor in various educational training situations. The major theory is that It comes from the unconscious mind "resisting change". Or, you might use the popular phrase “If it works, don’t fix it”!

    For decades, the Hawthorne studies provided the rationale for human relations within the organization. Then two researchers used a new procedure called "time-series analyses." Using the original variables and including in the Great Depression and the instance of a managerial discipline in which two insubordinate and mediocre workers were replaced by two different productive workers.

    They discovered that production was most affected by the replacement of the two workers due to their greater productivity and the affect of the disciplinary action on the other workers. The occurrence of the Depression also encouraged job productivity, perhaps through the increased importance of jobs and the fear of losing them. Rest periods and a group incentive plan also had a somewhat positive smaller effect on productivity. These variables accounted for almost all the variation in productivity during the experimental period.

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