George Mayo and The Hawthorne Effect

George Mayo and The Hawthorne Effect
The Hawthorne Effect has been described as ?the rewards you reap when you pay attention to people? (Maslow, 2005). George Elton Mayo conducted the Hawthorne Studies with the intention of bringing about a greater understanding of the effects of working conditions on worker productivity. The results of these studies turned out to be contrary to the management theories of the times but were important in creating an understanding of motivation factors in workers. ?The studies have had a profound effect on the field of Organizational development? (Richard, 2004). Due to the research efforts of past management theorists, we have many more insightful management trends and educated managers today.
Biography of Theorist
George Elton Mayo was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on December 26, 1880. He was the second child of a respected colonial family, whose father was a civil engineer. After failing to follow in his grandfather?s footsteps studying medicine, he was sent to Britain. He then began to write about Australian politics for the Pall Mall Gazette and taught at the Working Men?s College in London. Afterwards, he returned to the university and became the most brilliant student of the philosopher, Sir William Mitchell, although his views on management cause him to be unpopular. George Mayo married Dorothea McConnel, and then had two daughters, Patricia Elton Mayo, who would follow her father?s management thinking as a sociologist, and Ruth, who became a British artist and novelist.
Definition and Explanation of Theory
George Elton Mayo, known as the Father of the Hawthorne Studies, identified the Hawthorne Effect as ?the bias that occurs when people know that they are being studied.? Also, simply put, the mere act of showing people that you?re concerned about them usually inspires them to better job performance. Professor Mayo studied the effect of workplace innovations on worker productivity. One such study that Mayo performed was to research the effect of rest breaks on worker productivity in various textile firms. Mayo came to realize that the very fact that people were taking an interest in the workers was affecting their behavior and productivity. Many of Mayo?s findings were discovered through his most famous experiments at the Hawthorne Works of the General Electric Company in Chicago between 1924 and 1927. Mayo here discovered one of his most fundamental concepts. He explains that, ?workplaces are social environments and within them, people are motivated by much more than economic self-interest. I think the main question that I would have is, what other kinds of factors are people motivated by?

Historical Roots
?The Hawthorne Studies are credited with helping to start the Human Relations Movement in management and organizational thinking? (Richards, 2004). Mayo?s findings clashed with the current theory of F.W. Taylor, who believed that the worker was motivated completely by self interest, but Mayo had come across a principle of human motivation that revolutionized the theory and practice of management. Mayo?s studies at the Hawthorne plant also helped to develop the future scholars that would continue to influence the American way of thinking about management. I wonder what management principles these scholars helped to develop, either negative or positive?

In conclusion, the intent of George Mayo?s studies was to determine the effect of working conditions on productivity. In the real world of 2005, I believe this means that managers need to pay attention to the needs and desires of the people that work with them. The conclusion of Mayo?s research was that there was no cause-and-effect relationship between working conditions and productivity. The attitude of workers was found to be the key factor of productivity. In other words, if I can sense that my manager cares about my goals and objectives in my career as much as I do, I will strive harder to reach them and in the end be a better asset to my company.

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