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Elton Mayo

Elton Mayo

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Published by: ranjeetsinhgad on Sep 13, 2008
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11/14/2013

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Elton Mayo: Focusing on Human Relations
Elton Mayo (1880-1949), the “Father of the HumanRelations Approach,” led the team which conducted astudy at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Plant between 1927and 1933 to evaluate the attitudes and psychologicalreactions of workers in on-the-job situations. Theresearchers and scholars associated with the Hawthorneexperiments were Elton Mayo, Fritz Roethlisberger, T.N.Whitehead and William Dickson. The National ResearchCouncil sponsored this research in cooperation with theWestern Electric Company. The study was started in 1924by Western Electric’s industrial engineers to examine theimpact of illumination levels on worker productivity.Eventually the study was extended through the early1930s. The experiments were conducted in four phases:a.Illumination experimentsb.Relay assembly test room experimentsc.Interview phase
d.
Bank wiring observation room experiments
 
Page 14
 
Figure 2.3: Actual versus Expected Results for theExperimental and Control Groups in one of theHawthorne Illumination Studies
 
 
* Lighting remained at the same level in the controlgroup
 
Source: Kathryn M Bartol and David C. Martin,Management (USA: Irwin McGraw-Hill, Third edition,1998) 49.
 
Illumination experiments
These experiments, initiated by Western Electric’sindustrial engineers, took place between 1924 and1927. These experiments involved manipulating theillumination for one group of workers (called theexperimental or test group) and comparing theirsubsequent productivity with the productivity of another group (the control group) for whom theillumination was not changed. The results of theexperiments were ambiguous. For the test group,performance improved as the intensity of the lightincreased. The result was expected. However, theperformance of the test group rose steadily even whenthe illumination for the group was made so dim thatthe workers could hardly see. To compound the
 
mystery, the control group’s productivity also tendedto rise as the test group’s lighting conditions werealtered, even though the control group experienced nochanges in illumination (see Figure 2.3). Since therewas a rise in performance in both groups, theresearchers concluded that group productivity was notdirectly related to illumination intensity. Somethingbesides lighting was influencing their performance.At this point of the Hawthorne Experiments,researchers from Harvard University, under theguidance of Elton Mayo, were invited to participate inconducting the next phase of experiments.
Relay assembly test room experiments
A second set of experiments took place between 1927and 1933. In this phase, researchers were concernedabout working conditions such as number of workhours, frequency and duration of rest periods. Theresearchers selected six women for the experiments.These women worked in the relay assembly test room,assembling a small device called an electrical relay.The participants were informed beforehand about theexperiments. In the course of the experiments, anumber of variables were altered in the room: wageswere increased; rest periods of varying lengths wereintroduced; the duration of work was shortened. Theworkers were also granted certain privileges such asleaving their workstation without obtaining permission.These workers received special attention from theresearchers and company officials.

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