William H. Swatos Jr.
The Hawthorne Effect is the name that has been given to the possibility that a subject in a research project may change his or her behavior in a positive manner simply as a result of being aware of being studied. This concept takes its name from research studies conducted from 1924 to 1933 at the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne plant near Chicago, Illinois, that ultimately came under the direction of Elton Mayo of Harvard University. The specific research associated with the Hawthorne Effect was the first step among several and was conducted by engineers at the plant from 1924 to 1927, prior to Mayo's entry. This experiment involved increasing the lighting within a work area, using both experimental and control groups. Measuring worker output before and after the change in lighting showed an increase in productivity in both the experimental and control groups. Additional experiments with results along these lines led the researchers to conclude that the increased worker output occurred simply because of the increased attention directed toward the workers. It was at this point that Mayo entered the research, and the focus moved from simple variation in illumination to a variety of alterations in actual worker activity. As a whole, the research provided the initial grounding for Mayo to create the human relations movement, particularly in complex organizations. With respect ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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