Human Relation Essay

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Human Relations Theory and People Management
The minutiae of the human soul … emerged as a new domain for management Nikolas Rose Conventional textbooks often set up a simple story about organization theory which has a very appealing structure. In this story, there is a good guy and a bad guy. Who gets to play which role sometimes shifts, but most often the bad guy is the scientific management approach and the good guy is human relations theory. This is a flawed story in my view, and the way I will tell the story emphasizes the many connections and similarities between the two. But I suppose the fact that I am referring to ‘the two’ implies that there must be some points of
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It was this which caused the increase in productivity and which demonstrated that the workers could not be regarded as mere parts in the organizational machine. Thus was born the notion of the ‘Hawthorne Effect’, a staple part not just of organization theory but of social science as a whole. The other study I want to mention was that conducted in the bank wiring room. Here, a small group of male workers were engaged in producing electrical components. It emerged that the group set informal norms around production levels so that, rather than produce their maximum output (which would earn them a bonus) the workers performed sub-optimally. These norms were enforced by a mixture of peer pressure (including physical sanction) and an unofficial ‘gang leader’. This suggested that workers were not solely motivated by economic

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considerations and, moreover, that the ‘informal side of the organization’ was as important as, or maybe even more important than, the formal side (i.e. the rules and official hierarchy). The discovery of the human factor, so the story goes, ushered in a new era in which workers’ needs were acknowledged and met. This claim fits not just the ‘good guy, bad
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