BBA0010: Management & the Modern CorporationNadine Woodcock OCA
Explain in 600 words the key implications of the Hawthorne Studies for Management TheoryPractice.
The Hawthorne Studies was the first major research programme conducted on organisationalbehaviour with special attention to the social relationships and interactions of the individuals inan organisation. Its aim was to investigate the changes that occur to individuals (employees) if they were to be subject to certain changes in the conditions in their working environment, andrecord their reactions in order to understand the factors that affect human behaviour at work.As a response to Taylorism and other Classical Management Theories, the Human Relationsmovement which was based on the Hawthorne Studies, turned management theory towardsthe vital aspect of organisational life, particularly as it related to human behaviour.If it were not for the increasing dissatisfaction with Scientific Management, it is perhaps safe tosay that the Hawthorne Studies may never have been conducted. The Hawthorne Studiesfocused on the workers in the organisation and did not approach the organisation as amachine, whereby the employees were treated as if they were mechanical components asoutlined by Clark, Smith, & Littler (2010). Unlike the classical formalist approaches who more orless ignored the human and social elements of organisation (Clark, et al., 2010); the HawthorneStudies placed more emphasis on the workers and their needs in the workplace. This led to amore opened system view of organisation as it was discovered that employees productivitywas affected not only by internal working conditions, but social factors outside the workplace aswell.The Hawthorne Studies consisted of four main phases in which research activities wereconducted. The researchers observed the selected workers for each experiment and recordedtheir findings. The Hawthorne Effect came about as a result of such observations, when it wasdiscovered that individuals are predisposed to behaving in certain ways when they are underobservation or when the researches themselves influences those being studied. An example of the Hawthorne Effect occurred during the research when the productivity of the women in theIllumination Experiments continued to increase despite the manipulation of the independentvariables of the lighting. The fact that these women knew they were under observation meantthat they felt the need to work well. Thus, the term is now used whenever a research designitself influences those being studied (Clark, et al., 2010: p127).Research activities such as the Interviewing Programme (1928-31) have opened avenues inmanagement theories whereby emphasis is placed on the needs of the employees. Researcherssaw that the attitudes of the workers to their job and their working conditions were crucial inshaping their behaviour at work. They developed an open-ended approach to interviewingwhich allowed employees to express their feelings and doubts (Clark, et al., p128). This sort of counselling helped workers release tensions and reduce stress, thereby increasing theirproductivity. Even in modern management practices and theories, this research activity has hada strong influence on the development of personnel management and what is now calledHuman Resource Management.