SOC227H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Hawthorne Effect, Job Satisfaction, Group Dynamics
Lecture 5: Hawthorne Experiments and HR Management
Early HR Management (HR- adding human resource to work)
Taylor and Fordism weren‘t solving industrial problems.
US 1900s – Taylor and Fordism negative aspects:
Coercive management techniques: coercive because harsh penalties, discipline,
piece rate system etc.
Utilitarian motivation: higher level of strikes, problems in production system.
Neither did it bring down conflict between managers and EEs, nor did it increase
Normative approach: try to find ways to get EEs become interested in the work –
by minimizing alienation. Let EEs invest in ―one big corporate world‖…let them
work hard and increase production by minimizing alienation in terms of control,
1930s – 50s: Humanistic management
Came on Hawthorne experiment
Output productivity level didn‘t increase by technical conditions – increase output
by changing technology.
Taylor: technology and controlling techniques
We need to look at human techniques at workplace.
Motivating humans which will increase job satisfaction, cooperation and
involvement at workplace.
1960s -1970s: advancement…moving from HR to HR management
Develop ideas: movements called job enrichments
Give people more responsibilities, skills – will be more productive.
Hawthorne Experiment (ON THE TEST)
Series of experiments ran from 1924-1932.
Workplace as compared to other workplaces wasn‘t that bad – company had labour
problems – tension between management and EEs – EEs weren‘t working hard – EEs
complaint they were tired…fatigue – work too monopolous (boring as well as time-
Definition of Hawthorne effect: It is the psychological (intellectual) reaction to the
experiment rather than physiological (physical). Experimenters showed there is
psychological component to the work. It is proved that workers have psychological
needs, they also have real feelings.
Illumination experiments (1924-1927):
Done by companies themselves.
Researchers teamed up to perform control experiment by using lights to
understand why workers weren‘t performing well and why they were tired
Thesis: the brighter the lights, more productive the worker is – psychological
Result: This is not necessarily the case because workers still respond positively
and more productively – no matter which way lighting went.
Something psychological rather than physiological.
Elton Mayo‘s experiments: conducted series of experiments to figure out what was going
on at the workplace. The 2 experiments that were performed were gender dynamics.
1. Relay Assembly Test Room (1927-1933)
Experiment just for women – took 6 ladies and put them in control room
Before the experiment women were working 48 hours/week, in total with
around 100 people.
When in control room: only 6 women working – made small times
(long/short), decreased rest time and more time for meal break (free
meal), in each change they made, they found women were more
productive – conducted personal interviews during the experiment and
At the end of experiment, they returned to the original routine and were
monitored for 12 weeks – finds were odd as conditions got better (less hr.
of work, more meal time). At the end, women were more productive
when got back to original routine.
o An increase in output was not only based on physical condition.
o All other factors that changed productivity level – during
experiment, less harsh supervision I.e. women were allowed to
socialize, they started to feel significant and more important, and
they formed friendship within the group and developed internal
o Came up with social-psychological approach.
o Management cared about women – productivity increased because
women knew someone was paying attention to their hard work,
their needs and asking them their opinion about how they feel
about the work. THEY WERE TREATED LIKE ―HUMANS‖
o Less supervision and less control lead to more productivity.
o If you treat EEs like humans, allow them to socialize – they‘ll be
more cooperative, productive and motivated.
o This led to ―Industrial Psychology‖ – these psychologists look at
group dynamics at the workplace.
2. Bank Wiring Observation Room
Just for men – 12 male workers and 2 male supervisors (research workers
and interview but never went into the control room)
Wanted to analyze incentives and how people react to it.
Built experiment to check group incentive.
Group Piece rate system (pay for each unit/piece made): for every unit
made, group gets part of incentive.
Incentive plan introduced because company wanted everyone to work
EE had a base pay + if you go over and above, he/she is paid higher.
Management gives people economic incentives to work hard.
They thought of base pay + bonus based on group productivity group
will put collective pressure on everyone to work hard for the bonus.
Stoppage time: to claim time off of the work. During this time, EE is still
paid base pay but no incentives. Why it was used? So that EEs won‘t be
going to claim much stoppage time.
o Workers got together and figured out the average daily work.
o Found out they could wire 2 units per day; got more skills –
mostly done in the morning and get lot of stoppage time later in
o Workers don‘t work hard— no increase in production, therefore
not a huge increase in wages, earn less incentive since they claim
more stoppage time.
o Set up system to maintain equilibrium: decreased daily output
reports (lied how much work they are doing). If did a lot, they lie
didn‘t do much and vice versa. Claimed tons of stoppage time.
o Workers fabricated their reports all the time. Records were
incorrect. They formed group dynamic – pressure on workers to
work slower – managers and supervisors also lied saying nothing
bad/wrong is going on. This left experimentists
What was wrong in the experiment?
o ―US‖ vs. ―THEM‖
o 2 opposing groups were formed; US = workers and THEM =
o Experiment was supposed to do the opposite.
o Separation between levels of management and EEs.
o Conflict of interest – interest of workers not to work hard; interest
of managers- they expect workers to work hard and increase
o Workers said they didn‘t trust managers because they set up
experiment to manipulate them (workers) and ask them to work
o Refused to identify with the interest of management – which indeed
created social differences between management and EEs.
o Experiment to workers was not significant.
o Internal group system of policy each other – increase productivity.
o They developed ―informal social organization‖ at the workplace –
put collective pressure on each other to make sure they work hard.
o Workers are called ‗ruster buster‘ if they are too fast; ‗chizzling‘ if
they are too slow or ‗squillers‘ if they end up telling management
what was going on.