Effects Of The Hawthorne Studies Essay

2549 words - 10 pages

The Hawthorne studies, which began in 1924 and ended in 1933, at the Western Electric Company, have produced controversy since its findings in 1939 were published in the book Management And The Worker. There were so many elements changed during the tests that many people disagree on the true factors that caused a rise in output. Was the rise in output due to the rise in money, or the factor of better human relations? Instead maybe the rise in output was due to the now famous term that came out of the studies known as the Hawthorne effect. Hopefully through this research, a better understanding of the factors that contributed to the rise in output can be determined, and ultimately how the Hawthorne studies impacted the future of business management.

The Hawthorne studies developed when William Durgin of the Commonwealth Edison Company started conducting tests in 1918 to prove that different amounts of illumination would alter the amount of production in a company. "The results of these studies showed an increase in productivity of 10-20% with increases of light intensity" (Wrege, 1986, p. 24). Due to the success of these tests, the electric companies formed a committee with Thomas Edison as the chairman. And thus began the Illumination tests at Hawthorne in 1924. After three years of testing for illumination, the results concluded that illumination had little or no influence on production. Instead it was concluded that supervision if anything had an influence on output.

In 1927 The Relay Assembly Room Tests began at Hawthorne. The study lasted nearly five years, making it the longest experiment conducted at Hawthorne. Selection of this department may have been an error by the team of observers. The Relay Assembly department had shown an increase in production of 5% since 1924 even before any tests had begun (Wrege, 1986). Astonishingly the employees that were chosen to participate in the relay tests were not chosen scientifically. Instead, an employee was told to pick other girls that were not expected to become married anytime soon.

After the employees were chosen, the group of girls were told that that the amount of output recorded was not what the tests were about. They were told to work at a comfortable pace at which they were at freedom to choose. The observer in the room kept records of everything that went on in the room. He did not act as a boss, but did function as a type of supervisor. The room itself was separate from the normal factory and was especially small. Besides the room, all equipment was the same as the regular department. Before the tests began, the employees that were to be tested were taken to the company hospital to make sure that the girls were in good health. There was also interest that the menstrual cycle of the ladies may influence output. The examinations were conducted every six months.

The employees that were being tested, like all employees at the factory, were paid on a piece-rate system. In the...

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