What in productivity regardless of the change in
What have been some of the main criticisms of the Hawthorne studies? Can the findings of the Hawthorne studies validly be used in Asian workplaces today? Introduction The Hawthorne studies was a series of studies that took place at Hawthorne Works, Chicago that manufacture telephones equipments for American Telephone and Telegraph company (AT&T).
It involves a series of investigations that tap into the importance of work behavior and attitudes of a variety of physical, economic, and social variables (Carey 1967).To prove this theories right, an investigation comprising of five stages were conducted throughout 1927 to 1932 where the main purpose was to find out the factors affecting productivity. This includes the Illumination study, Relay-assembly Test Room Study, MICA Splitting Test Room, the Interviewing Program and lastly, the Bank-Wiring Observation Room.
In this essay, I will be briefly explain the different experiments and also discuss the extent of validity of the Hawthorne Effect on Asian workplaces as well as the criticism arising from it. Illumination StudyIn 1924, the illumination study was conducted where the objective was to find whether the effect of environmental changes had a positive effect on output, in this case, the light intensity. Results shown that there was no direct relationship between the illumination of the workplace and productivity. In another word, there was still an increase in productivity regardless of the change in illumination in the workplace. Some argued that there was a lack of validity in terms of ‘real-life’ settings as the experiments were conducted under controlled situations.
The workers also knew that they were being placed under observations for an experiment. This could in turn increase their productivity level as a result of pleasing their superiors and maintaining their job. Relay-assembly Test Room Following the illumination study experiment, a group of female workers(assemblers) were chosen from a regular department and allocated to a room to scrutinize effects of work environment, physical requirements, management and social relations upon output (Frank & Kaul 1978).
The female workers had affectionate supervisors who gave them the freedom to engage in conversations as well substantial break-time. Cash incentives were given as a new payment plan in conjunction to eliminate any unreasonable production expectations and also to encourage cooperation between assemblers. It was concluded that the new flexible authority of the supervisor created a more conducive and family-oriented culture amongst the assemblers which gave rise to an increased output. MICA Splitting Test RoomThe next experiment was to determine the effect of a change in wage incentive, varied overtime, and breaks during work on productivity. Individual female piecework operators were separated into rooms and two ten-minute breaks and varying overtimes were introduced (Roethlisberger & Dickson 2003). The study lasted fourteen months and productivity increased by fifteen percent. It was reported that the increase in break times did not make a difference to the output but the incentive system played a significant role in increasing output.
The Interviewing ProgramThis experiment was conducted to enable workers to freely express themselves and release their bottled feelings so as to reach an emotional balance where they will feel that their opinions have been valued even if their workplace conditions remain unchanged. As such, constructive feedback can be gathered though such “non-directed interviewing” whereby their superiors listen instead of passing their personal remarks. Roethlisberger (1977) discovered that what the employees found most deeply rewarding were close associations with one another, “informal relationships interconnectedness.
This in turn motivated the workers to work harder and created a ‘drive’ in them to increase their value towards work. Bank-Wiring Observation Room The last experiment conducted involved a group of 14 men being placed at the test room. The purpose was to find out if payment incentives would affect productivity. Ironically, the results were that productivity actually decreased. This was due to suspicion arising from the workers that their productivity may have increase to justify the laying off of other workers. The men were afraid that if they increase their productivity level, the company’s base rate will be lowered.It was later discovered that these men formed informal work group who created their own sets of norms that satisfies personal and corporate needs.
These informal groups had their own social hierarchy which controlled group members and manage their bosses. Other Criticisms of Hawthorne Studies The experiments’ main purpose was steered towards factors affecting productivity. Too much emphasis was placed on human effort instead of technological assists. Human aspects alone cannot improve production and we need to turn to better technology and machines to significantly increase output.
Hence, factors like environment or incentives cannot be used as the sole contributions affecting worker’s productivity but also the peripherals such as improved machines and equipments. Another criticism would be the huge emphasis the experiment placed on group decision-making. Some argued that the individual’s opinion should not be neglected especially during situations when an immediate decision was needed. Lastly, there is an over importance of freedom for workers during the experiment. This diminishes the constructive role of supervisors which may in turn lower performance and productivity of workers due to over confidence.Adding on, the Hawthorne tests were based on behaviourist psychology and were supposed to confirm that workers performance could be predicted by pre-hire testing.
The experiments stand as a warning about simple experiments on human participants viewed as if they were only material systems. There is less certainty about the nature of the surprise factor, other than it certainly depended on the mental states of the participants. Lastly, the participants chosen for the experiments were mostly female workers. This might create a bias approach rather than a fair one compared to a mix of female and male workers for each experiment.Validity in Asian Workplace Asia is one of the leading continents in terms of productions.
The findings from the Hawthorne Studies can be applied to most Asian workplaces as most of the companies here adopt an incentive skewed strategy to increase output as compared to the Bank-wiring Observation Room experiment. Research findings from the Asia-Pacific region also indicate that salaries and benefits, together with working conditions, supervision and management, and education and training opportunities are important. Workers were willing to accept rewards, personal attention, and a chance to feel wanted.As quoted by Elton Mayo (1946), ‘the desire to stand well with one’s fellows, the so-called human instinct of association, easily outweighs the merely individual interest and the logic of reasoning upon which so many spurious principles of management are based’. Human are driven by personal glory or interest which spurs their desire to work harder for the benefits installed for them.
Especially in Asia, the wealth-oriented people working at the production level are incentives seeking, meaning that their only motivation to work hard is for an increased salary.When all other factors are consistent, the workers would prefer to work at their own pace or follow the norm and produce the minimal output as stipulated by their company’s regulation. This can be reinforced again by what Elton Mayo (1949) said; ‘the working group as a whole actually determined the output of individual workers by reference to a standard that represented the group conception (rather than management’s) of a fair day’s work’. It is inevitable that workers work towards a goal or benefit rather than for the passion to serve.
Hawthorne studies have made significant impact on modern management and many large companies are adopting the findings and results from it. In China, afternoon sleep can be seen almost in every large or small company after their midday meal. Some Japanese offices have special rooms known as napping rooms for their workers to take a nap during lunch break or after overtime work, almost equivalent to the experiment in the MICA splitting test room.
It is said that having afternoon nap increases their awareness and also their ability to perform better without losing concentration.The nap was said to counter the drop in blood glucose level caused by the body’s normal insulin response to heavy meal, which causes drowsiness. Also at the local level, non-materialistic social and intrinsic motivation can play a major role that needs to be explored.
It is understandable that many people may be reluctant to be posted far away from home. Those used to urban life will find it particularly difficult to move to a remote area. In Thailand the challenge has been turned around into an asset by recruiting trainees from the very areas they were supposed to serve in.
This approach was found successful. It also has the additional advantage that workers will be inserted into societies with a moral obligation to do a good job (Hongoro & Norman 2002). Conclusion From the above mentioned, I conclude that the Hawthorne Studies played a significant role in moulding the management in workplaces all around the world. Whether it is applicable to Asian workplaces, I feel that the findings and results from the experiments are generic and can be applied to any company around the world.
However, cultures and traditions are heart-felt in Asia.Productivity would definitely be affected by incentives or feedbacks as Asia’s main source of supremacy in the market is not technology and machines, but down to the individual workers that keeps their company running. Word : 1540 Reference Carey, A 1967, The Hawthorne Studies: A Radical Criticism? American Sociological Review, Vol.
32, no. 3, pp. 403-416 <http://www.
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edu. au/stable/2091087> Frank H, Kaul D, 1978, The Hawthorne Experiments: First Statistical Interpretation, American Sociological Review, Vol. 43, no. 5 <http://web. ku.
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