Hawthorne Experiments – Illumination Experiments, Mass Interviewing …

2. Relay Assembly Test Room Experiments

Relay assembly test room experiments were designed to determine the effect of changes in various job conditions on group productivity as the illumination experiments could not establish relationship between intensity of illumination and production. For this two girls were chosen and these girls were asked to choose four more girls as co-workers. The work was related to the assembly of telephone relays. Output depended on the speed and continuity with which girls worked. An observer was appointed with girls to supervise their work. Following were the changes and resultant outcomes:

i. The incentive system was changed so that each girl’s extra pay was based on the other five rather than output of larger group, say, 100 workers or so. The productivity increased as compared to before.

ii. Changes were made in rest intervals. Two to five minutes of rest intervals were introduced one in morning and other in evening session. These were than increased to 10 minutes. The productivity was increased.

iii. The rest period was reduced to five minutes but frequency was increased. The productivity was decreased slightly and the girls complained that frequent rest intervals affected the rhythm of the work.

iv. The number of rest was reduced to two of ten minutes each, but in the morning, coffee or soup was served along with sandwich and in the evening, snack was provided. The productivity increased.

v. Changes in working hours and workday were introduced, such as cutting an hour off the end of the day and eliminating Saturday work. The girls were allowed to leave at 4:30 p.m. instead of usual 5:00 p.m. Productivity increased in this case.

As each change was introduced absenteeism decreased, morale increased, and less supervision was required. It was assumed that these positive factors were there because of the various factors being adjusted and making them more positive. When conditions were reverted the productivity was supposed to decrease but it increased further instead of decreasing. Thus it was concluded that the productivity increased not because of positive changes in physical factors but because of change in girl’s attitude towards work and their work group. They developed a feeling of stability, sense of belongingness, responsibility and self-discipline because of more freedom of work given to them. The relationship between workers and supervisors flourished and became more friendly.

3. Mass Interviewing Programme

    During the course of experiments, about 20,000 interviews were conducted between 1928 and 1930 to determine employee’s attitude towards company, supervision, insurance plans, promotion, and wages. During the interviews, it was discovered that worker’s behavior was being influenced by group behavior. However this conclusion was not satisfactory and thus another set of experiments were conducted.

4. Bank Wiring Observation Room Experiments

These experiments were conducted to analyze the functioning of small group and its impact on individual behavior. A group of fourteen male workers was employed in the bank wiring room out of which nine wiremen, three soldiers and two inspectors. The work involved attaching wire to switches for certain equipment used in telephone exchange. Hourly wage rate for each worker was based on average output of each worker while bonus was to be determined on the basis of average group output. The hypothesis was that in order to earn more the workers will work more and in order to gain more group bonus they would help each other in their work. But the hypothesis did not hold valid. Worker decided the target for themselves which was lower than the company’s target. The workers gave the following reasons for the restricted output:

i. Fear of Unemployment

The fear among workers was that if there would be more production per head, some of the workers would be laid off.

ii. Fear of Raising the Standards

Most of the workers believed that if they will reach the standard rate of production determined by the company, the company may raise the standards reasoning that it must be easy to attain.

iii. Protection of Slower workers

The workers were friendly on the job. Since slower workers were likely to be retrenched, the faster workers protected then by not overproducing.

iv. Satisfaction on the part of Management

According to workers, management seemed to accept the lower production rate as no one was being fired or even rebuked for restricted output.

The workers in the group set certain norms of behavior including personal conduct. This study suggested that informal relationships are an important factor in determining the human behavior. The supervisors tended to understand and accept the problems of workers and management tried to sense their feelings which were helpful in formulating the action for resolving management employee conflicts.

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