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Hawthorne Effect - Essay Example

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The Hawthorne Effect (HE) is a well-known behavioral phenomenon, which was firstly detected and observed during so called Hawthorn Studies. In its most general meaning HE demonstrates changes of the response of an experimental group, which take source from awareness of such group members about their being under experiment (attention)…
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Hawthorne Effect
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Download file to see previous pages HE must be taken into consideration when conducting practical researches, for example, different behavioral, sociological and psychological experiments, medical tests, or marketing researches, etc.
HE takes source from series of experiments called Hawthorne Studies, which have been carried out from 1927 till 1933 at Hawthorn factory of Western Electronic Company, located in Illinois. In those times, Hawthorn plant was one of the most up-to-date and advanced production line, where about 29,000 people were employed. Telephones, wires, cables, relays and other telecommunication facilities were the main products of Hawthorne factory. Series of researches, directed on studying the effect of working environment on productivity, were conducted at Hawthorne Plant by a group of specialists from Harvard Business School. Professor Elton Mayo, together with his assistants F.J. Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson, were in charge of the research group.
A group of volunteers from Hawthorne factory was selected for these experiments. Researches carried out the experiments with groups of the workers and with single employees. For the first experiment, the intensity of illumination was taken as environmental variable: initially a group of employees worked with usual level of lightening. Then researches started increasing illumination of the room step by step, and the employees responded with rise of productivity on every each increase. Following decreasing of lightening level was also accompanied by rise of the output. Finally, researches started keeping the level very low, so the employees could hardly see their work. Only in this case their productivity began decreasing. Similar experiments, involving variations with humidity and temperature at the working place, were carried out, and results were the same.
Further researches moved to manipulating with psychological variables of working environment. The employees were offered to have 5 minutes of break every 30 minutes of their working shift, then 10 minute breaks, and then 15 minute breaks. Every change caused a new rise of productivity. Launching a piecework payment system also brought to increases in the amounts produced, because the employees could easily see their own rate and progress. Then, the research group continued experiments, manipulating with other variables: for example, they tried to shorten and then prologue time periods of working shifts, or make modifications in workday assignments, etc.
All these experiments brought the research team to the conclusion that it was not the change of an environmental variable (physical or psychological), which resulted in steady increase of productivity. It became obvious that such increases took source from the very fact of changing something. So, the employees felt attention focused on them. They felt themselves to be important and central in this research, that's why every time they were trying harder and harder to spend as much efforts as they could to receive better results.
Experimental Hawthorne Studies also helped to prove importance of social variables when estimating productivity. Initially, an experimental group of six female employees had to work in private separated workplaces, and then all the employees were moved into one big hall. As it was easier for them to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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