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Human Relations Theory

Hawthorne studies formed the basis for the rise of human relations theory. These studies shook the foundations of classical approach i.e. concept of Economic Man and role of structure of formal organization. These studies were conducted in Western Electric Company at Hawthorne by the Harvard Business School. The studies were conducted in 4 phases-

Illumination Experiment(1924-27) To determine the effect of different levels of illumination on workers productivity. Relay assembly Test Room Experiment(1927) To observe the effect of various changes in working conditions on the workers output and morale.

Mass Interviewing Programme(1928-31) To explore employees feelings i.e. human attitudes and sentiments by talking to them.  Bank Wiring Experiment(1931-32) To understand better how the norms that controlled each members output were established by worker’s social group (informal organization).


The social & psychological factors at the work place, not the physical conditions of work determine the employees morale and output. The organization is a social system.

Non Economic rewards and sanctions significantly affect the workers behavior, morale and output.

Workers are not inert individuals, they are social animals. Division of labour strictly on specialization is not necessarily the most efficient approach. The workers have tendency to form the small social groups (informal organization). The production norms and behavior patterns are set by such groups.

Workers react to management as members of informal group rather than individuals. Leadership style of supervision, communication, etc. play a central role in workers’ behaviour, satisfaction and productivity.