Hawthorne Effect - Explained
What is the Hawthorne Effect?
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What is the Hawthorne Effect?
The Hawthorne effect is a term that describes the tendency of individuals to alter or change their behavior if they are aware that they are being observed.
This tendency changes in the result of the research or experiment parameters. More specifically, the Hawthorne Effect shows how reactivity or modification of human behaviors can reduce the integrity of research or experiment parameters.
Back to: BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
What are the Hawthorne Experiments?
Professor Elton Mayo is known as the Father of the Human Relations Approach to Management Theory. From 1924 - 1932, he, along with Fritz Roethlisberger, T.N. Whitehead and William Dickson, conducted the Hawthorne studies (so named for the location of the studies - the Hawthorne Plan of Western Electric Company).
In these experiments, Mayo evaluated the attitudes and psychological reactions of workers in on-the-job situations. It began by examining the impact of illumination levels on worker productivity. Eventually, the study was extended through the early 1930s and addressed a broader range of workplace conditions.
The results, however, identified a unique identifier of group performance - attention. The control and experimental groups' performance improved irrespective of the environmental conditions.
The theory became known as the Hawthorne Effect - individuals perform better when given special attention.
What Were the Results of the Hawthorne Experiments?
The study also addresses other major concerns, such as: individual vs group job performance, worker motivation, and production standards.
The findings were as follows:
- Group dynamics (Social Factors) are important determinants of job performance and output.
- Groups have their own norms and beliefs, independent of the individual members.
- Individuals are not solely motivated by compensation. Perceived meaning and importance of ones work are the primary determinants of output.
- Employees prefer a cooperative attitude from superiors, rather than command and control.
- Communication between management and employees is essential to understand employee issues.
- Workplace culture sets production standards - despite standards set by managers.
The work of Mayo, through the Hawthorne studies, was instrumental in understanding the roles of group behavior and individual psychology in management practice.