Illumination Studies and Relay Assembly Test Room The Human Relations Movement Bloomberg Center, Historical Collections

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relay assembly test room experiment

The Hawthorne effect occurs when behaviors change simply because there is someone observing an individual. For example, someone may drink less than they normally would when out with friends because their significant other joined them. Therefore, any temporary change in behavior caused by the subject receiving attention is best described by the Hawthorne effect. The researchers at Hawthorne Works concluded from their studies that working conditions such as regular breaks, a clean workspace, and a well-lit environment (independent variable) increased performance (dependent variable). Spurred by these initial findings, a series of experiments were conducted at the plant over the next eight years.

Following the secret measuring of their output for two weeks, the women were moved to a special experiment room. The experiment room, which they would occupy for the rest of the study, had a supervisor who discussed various changes to their work. The women were employed in assembling relays or electromagnetic switches used in switching telephone calls automatically. The entire process was highly labor intensive and the speed of assembly had an obvious effect on productivity. The Hawthorne experiments clearly showed that a man at work is motivated by more than the satisfaction of economic needs. Management should recognise that people are essentially social beings and not merely economic beings.

Hawthorne Studies

However, if employees perceive ulterior motives behind the observation, a different set of outcomes may ensue. If, for instance, employees reason that their increased productivity could harm their fellow workers or adversely impact their earnings eventually, they may not be actuated to improve their performance. They carried out their experiment on 14 men who assembled telephone switching equipment. The men were placed in a room along with a full-time observer who would record all that transpired.

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The importance of individual worker attitudes on behavior had to be understood. Further, the role of the supervisor in determining productivity and morale was more clearly defined. Group work and behavior were essential to organizational objectives and tied directly to efficiency and, thus, to corporate success. The most disturbing conclusion emphasized how little the researchers could determine about informal group behavior and its role in industrial settings. The foreman of the bank-wiring department resisted the intrusion of observers into his work space and a bank-wiring test room was set up. The test room housed nine wirers, three solderers, and two inspectors.

Experiments & Studies

Secondly, they had to be willing and cooperative so that their reactions would be ‘normal and genuine’. Those that were defensive might restrict outcome and overly anxious workers might ‘spurt’ when illumination was increased. relay assembly test room experiment To create a cooperative group the researchers picked two experienced operators and asked them to select the rest of the group. These experiments were conducted to find out the impact of small groups on the individuals.

  • They were eager to make use of their new insight in a study of the various factors which
    contributed to employee effectiveness.
  • The electric power industry provided an additional impetus for these tests, hoping to encourage industries to use artificial lighting in place of natural light.
  • In this article, we’re going to cover the basics of the Hawthorne effect, an interesting phenomenon where people behave differently when they know they’re being observed.
  • The interview programme gave valuable insights about the human behaviour in the company.
  • A spirit of friendliness amongst the group with signs of joking between them – they were enjoying their freedom from constraint.

The researchers found that although the workers were paid according to individual productivity, productivity decreased because the men were afraid that the company would lower the base rate. Detailed observation of the men revealed the existence of informal groups or “cliques” within the formal groups. These cliques developed informal rules of behavior as well as mechanisms to enforce them.

During the course of experiments, about 20,000 interviews were conducted between 1928 and 1930 to determine employees’ attitudes towards company, supervision, insurance plans, promotion and wages. Initially, these interviews were conducted by means of direct questioning such as “do you like your supervisor? The researchers of the Hawthorne Studies noticed that employee productivity increased not only in improved conditions (like better lighting), but also in unchanged or even worsened conditions.

The Hawthorne Effect

Their awareness of being observed had apparently led them to increase their output. It seemed that increased attention from supervisors could improve job performance. A group of 14 male workers in the bank wiring room were placed under observation for six months. The researchers thought that the efficient workers would put pressure on the less efficient workers to complete the work. However, it was found that the group established its own standards of output, and social pressure was used to achieve the standards of output.

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Under these test two small groups of six female telephone relay assemblers were selected. From time to time, changes were made in working hours, rest periods, lunch breaks, etc. They were allowed to choose their own rest periods and to give suggestions. It was concluded that social relationship among workers, participation in decision-making, etc. had a greater effect on productivity than working conditions. To begin with, the first group of workers making electrical relays was subjected to several lighting changes throughout their shift, and their performance was observed in response to the changes. The study found that any change in lighting, regardless of whether it was a positive or negative change, led to a boost in productivity.

Secondary observer effect

The researchers placed six operators, five working on assembly and one supplying them with parts, in a test room and observed that productivity in this room increased significantly over time. They also introduced the idea of an independent variable such as workday length, timing of breaks, and pay while the dependent variable was production of relays. They found that the women had developed strong bonds with each other and worked as a team, a fact that increased their cooperation and production. The researchers concluded that positive mental feelings, management, and relationships with coworkers are important for job satisfaction and output.

As a social being, they are members of a group and the management should try to understand group attitudes and group psychology. The rest period was reduced to five minutes but frequency was increased. The productivity decreased slightly and the girls complained that frequent rest intervals affected the rhythm of the work. The Hawthorne studies have undoubtedly influenced how employee productivity is viewed today. However, there are some alternate explanations for changes in productivity.

The Interview Process

The researchers concluded that the supervisory style greatly affected worker productivity. These results were, of course, a major blow to the position of scientific management, which held that employees were motivated by individual economic interest. The Hawthorne studies drew attention to the social needs as an additional source of motivation.

The problems of workers could not be solved by taking one factor i.e. management could not achieve the results by emphasizing one aspect. All the things should be discussed and decision be taken for improving the whole situation. Experiments have shown that the output increases when workers are explained the logic behind various decisions and their participation in decision making brings better results. The workers in a group develop a common psychological bond uniting them as £ group in the form of informal organisation. Pressure of a group, rather than management demands, frequently has the strongest influence on how productive workers would be. They become related to employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction only as the employee comes to view them from his personal situation.

relay assembly test room experiment

The Hawthorne effect refers to a tendency in some individuals to alter their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed (Fox et al., 2007). Interviews, which averaged around 30 minutes, grew to 90 minutes or even two hours in length in a process meant to provide an emotional release. You always want to feel appreciated and taken into consideration from your boss or any other higher authority you are working with. Just like when you are supposed to learn from your teacher the materials she is giving you and at the same time you ask her for her advice on your personal life and start telling her what is going on with you in your daily life.

The interview programme gave valuable insights about the human behaviour in the company. Since there was more freedom of work, they developed a sense of responsibility and self-discipline. The relationship between supervisor and workers became close and friendly. The dean of the school for which Jack is employed decided to drop in to observe a lecture. Jack changed the tone of his lecture that day to one that was more formal and less interactive. Support turns into a significant instrument in human relations development.

The cliques served to control group members and to manage bosses; when bosses asked questions, clique members gave the same responses, even if they were untrue. These results show that workers were more responsive to the social force of their peer groups than to the control and incentives of management. The bank-wiring tests were shut down in the spring of 1932 in reaction to layoffs brought on by the deepening depression. Layoffs were gradual, but by May the bank-wiring tests were concluded.

relay assembly test room experiment

The first, a sequence of illumination tests from 1924 to 1927, set out to determine the effects of lighting on worker efficiency in three separate manufacturing departments. Accounts of the study revealed no significant correlation between productivity and light levels. The results prompted researchers to investigate other factors affecting worker output. Hawthorne studies in management also involved bank wiring experiments aimed at exploring the effect of pay incentives on productivity.

The credibility of experiments is essential to advances in any scientific discipline. However, when the results are significantly influenced by the mere fact that the subjects were observed, testing hypotheses becomes exceedingly difficult. On the one hand, letting employees know that they are being observed may engender a sense of accountability.

Hawthorne studies are a group of experiments that were conducted at Hawthorne Works, a large factory facility in Illinois that was owned by the Western Electric Company. Hawthorne studies occurred in the 1920s in Illinois and were designed to explore avenues to increase worker productivity. They concluded that the mere fact of being observed and feeling valued (the so-called “Hawthorne Effect”) significantly impacted workers’ performance, independent from physical work conditions. However, these gains in productivity disappeared when the attention faded (Roethlisberg & Dickson, 1939). The outcome implied that the increase in productivity was merely the result of a motivational effect on the company’s workers (Cox, 2000).