Critique of the Hawthorne Experiments Essay

1510 Words May 17th, 2011 7 Pages
Critique of The Hawthorne Experiments

Biography Written by Fritz J. Roethlisberger (1898 – 1974), The Hawthorne Experiments, explores the experiments, results and conclusions of studies performed at the Hawthorne Plant of the Western Electric Company. The Hawthorne Effect is the theory that resulted from the studies. Roethlisberger, a key member of the team, joined the team in 1927 and actively participated in the research until 1936, first as Elton Mayo’s assistant and later as his collaborator (Roethlisberger, 2007). Roethlisberger earned a BA in engineering from Columbia University, a BS in engineering administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a MA in philosophy from Harvard University (Roethlisberger,
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While researchers kept tons of data regarding this experiment, including the temperature and humidity of the room and the amount of slept each women had the night prior, the physical changes had little change on the productivity (Natemeyer & McMahon, 2001, pp. 32 – 34). The experiments at the Hawthorne Plant continued with interviewing the actual employees. These interviews began in 1928 and were the “first real attempt to get human data and to forge human tools to get them” (Natemeyer & McMahon, 2001, p. 35). In the beginning of the interviewing process, the interviewers found it difficult to not input their feelings, advice, etc into the interviews (Natemeyer & McMahon, 2001, p. 35). Over time and with practice: They discovered that sooner or later a person tends to talk about what is uppermost in his mind to a sympathetic and skillful listener. And they become more proficient in interpreting what a person is say or trying to say (Natemeyer & McMahon, 2001, p 35).

It was the data from these experiments that supported the research of the Harvard team and lead them to conclude that productivity increase when management/supervisors began to pay attention to their employees. In the final set of experiments at the Hawthorne Plant, also described as the Bank Wiring Observation Group (1931-1932), researchers observed a group of employees that represented three occupational groups – wiremen, soldermen, and inspectors (Natemeyer & McMahon, 2001,
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