Examine the significance of “Howthorne Studies” to the development of managerial thinking.
Human relation Era
Human relation era also called behavioral school emerged because the scientific management principal introduce by classical thinkers i.e. F. W. Taylor, Henry Fayol, Frank and Lillion Gilbreth did not achieve sufficient production efficiency and industrial harmony at work place and understanding human behavior at work still remained a big puzzle for the managers.
Therefor, systematic attempts were made by a few psychologist and sociologist to help manager understanding the dynamic of human behavior.
The term human relation is used to describe the employer-employee relations in the organisational context when the relations are effective employees contribute their maximum for the achievements of the organisational goals on the other hand human relations are ineffective when morale and efficiency of the workers deteriorate.
They are present at the work place but do not perform. Therefore to create effective human relations. It is essentials that managers must know why employee behave as they do and what psychological and sociological factors motivate them.
Elton Mayo and the Hawthorne experiments
The Hawthorne experiments conducted by Elton Mayo and his associates at the western electric company from 1924 to 1933 provided new insights into the Human behavior.
Many of the experiments were performed at the western electric’s Hawthorne plant near Chicago. Mayo’s finding in these experiments marked the beginnings of the human relation era.
The studies attempted to investigate the relationship between physical conditions at the work place and the productivity of workers.
The researchers divided the employees into two groups. One group called as test group was subjects to changes in lighting. The lighting conditions for the other group called as control group remained constant throughout the study.
When the test group’s lighting conditions were improved productivity increased as expected, what surprise researches most was the fact that productivity continued to increase even when the lighting was reduced.
Further, to add the mystery, the control group’s output also increased as the test group’s lighting conditions were changed, though there was no change in the lighting conditions for the control group.
As a result for the first time, it was realize the something in addition to lighting was influencing the worker’s performance.
In another set of experiments changes in the performance of a group of workers were observed by changing the various work related factors such as:-
- Increasing the wages.
- Introducing rest periods.
- Reducing the work days and work week.
Workers were also allowed to choose their own rest periods and to have a stay in all these changes. These experiments revealed that financial incentives alone were not causing the productivity improvements. It was found that a complex set of attitudes were responsible for the productivity increase.
Employers develop group norms at the work place. The test and the control group developed some group understanding that motivated them to perform well. The fact that employees would work hard if they are convinced that supervisors pay special attention to their welfare was also made abundantly clear. This is often referred as the Howthorne effect.
Another conclusion of the studies was the informal work groups exist in the work place. The informal groups help the individuals share common values understanding and beliefs.
It is our common knowledge that many a time we find in the organisation how employees associations and friendship with co-workers influence their attitudes towards the work and the superiors.
Now we can say that Elton Mayo’s studies in fact contributed for thorough change in the attitude the approach towards training.