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"Hawthorne experiments and their relevance to organizations today." Unit1 Discussion Forum, BUS 5113: Organizational Theory and Behavior (University of the People)

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Unit 1 Discussion Forum, 2020 Term2, University of the People

In the 1930s, industrial psychologist Elton Mayo was commissioned to perform a series of experiments at Western Electric Hawthorne plant. These are known as the “Hawthorne Studies,” designed to observe worker performance and output levels in varying illumination conditions. The so-called Hawthorne or Observer Effect has led to many organizational theories, which were advanced to understand, explain, and predict worker behaviors. 

Research and discuss the Hawthorne experiments and their relevance to organizations today. Afterward, compare the Hawthorne Effect with the modern-day practice of Micromanagement. What are their benefits and criticisms? How can managers apply these concepts to improve worker performance?   

University of the People

 

Submitted by ujin- Sunday, 15 November 2020, 11:47 AM

Drafting and Editing: 7 hours (280 words)

Grade: 9.4/10

 

     Through Hawthorne experiments, Elton Mayo found that the workers increased output under observation (Halac & Prat, 2016). However, some researchers cast doubt on the result of Hawthorne experiments (Bernstein, 2012). Also, observing workers by managers occurs in organizations today. Watching workers too frequently by the manager is called micromanagement. Usually, the word, micromanagement, is used in a bad sense.

 

     A factor common to both Hawthorne Effect and Micromanagement is observing work productivity. In the case of micromanagement, employees get feedback from managers based on the results of the observation. One of the benefits of Hawthorne Effect and Micromanagement is “likely to improve productivity in a context of simple work” (Ranganathan & Benson, 2019). The criticisms of Hawthorne Effect and Micromanagement are an invasion of privacy and “observability may reduce performance by inducing those being observed to conceal their activities through codes and other” (Bernstein, 2012). Moreover, frequent monitoring might lead to employees’ negative emotions, decreasing job satisfaction, and increasing stress and health complaint. (Becker & Marique, 2014)

 

     Managers can improve worker performance by using the benefits of these concepts. At first, managers pay attention to workers and explain to them the tasks the employees working on is crucial for the company. Next, managers must comprehend the difficulty and characteristics of the jobs. Then, managers forward to reveal the productivity of employees when the employees approach a simple task. On the other hand, when it comes to complicated jobs, managers value workers’ privacy. As some study results show, both simple tasks and complex tasks can be influenced by numerous contextual factors (Becker & Marique, 2014). So, managers need to keep in mind to respond flexibly to the circumstances and employees’ personalities.

 

References

Halac, M., & Prat, A. (2016). Managerial Attention and Worker Performance. The American Economic Review, 106(10), 3104-3132. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43956944

Ranganathan, A., & Benson, A. (2019). A Numbers Game: Quantification of Work, Accidental Gamification and Worker Productivity

Bernstein, E. (2012). The Transparency Paradox: A Role for Privacy in Organizational Learning and Operational Control. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57(2), 181-216. Retrieved November 14, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43548317

Becker, T., & Marique, G. (2014). Observer Effects without Demand Characteristics: An Inductive Investigation of Video Monitoring and Performance. Journal of Business and Psychology, 29(4), 541-553. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24709889