Hawthorne Studies
Elton Mayo’s Study on Employee
Motivation and Work Productivity
Developed by: Melissa Mackay
Boise State University
What Will Be Covered
• Definition of the Hawthorne Studies
• Experiment that Mayo conducted
• Results
• Conclusions
• Brainstorming: How this can be used in
What Will Be Covered
• Nuts and Bolts: Explanation of topic
• How it works in the field
• Real World Example
• Summary
• References
Definition of Hawthorne
• “The Hawthorne Studies were
conducted from 1927-1932 at the
Western Electric Hawthorne
Works in Chicago, where Harvard
Business School Professor Elton
Mayo examined productivity and
work conditions.”
Definition of Hawthorne
Studies Cont.
• “Mayo wanted to find out what effect
fatigue and monotony had on job
productivity and how to control them
through such variables as rest
breaks, work hours, temperatures
and humidity.”
Mayo’s Experiment
• Five women assembled telephone relays, one
supplied the parts.
• Made frequent changes in working conditions with
their consent.
• Records were kept of relays made, temperature and
humidity of rooms, medical and personal histories,
eating and sleeping habits, and bits of conversation
on the job.
• No one supervised the girls.
• They were told to work as they felt and at a
comfortable pace.
Mayo’s Experiment Cont.
• Productive capacity was measured by recording the
girls’ output for two weeks before the study began.
• First five weeks, no changes were made.
• Third stage, a pay system was ensured allowing the
girls’ to earn in proportion to their efforts.
• Eight weeks later, two five-minute rest pauses were
Mayo’s Experiment Cont.
• Eighth phase, workday ended a half-day early.
• Ninth phase, the girls finished an hour earlier than
• Five-day week introduced.
• Girls went back to no breaks, lunches and a full
work week, output declined for those twelve weeks.
• Researchers found that output rates
weren’t directly related to the physical
conditions of the work.
• Output went up when:
– They were put on piece-work for eight weeks.
– Two five minute rest pauses were introduced for
five weeks.
– Rest pauses were lengthened to ten minutes.
– A hot meal was supplied during first pause.
– They were dismissed at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:00
Results Cont.
• Output slightly fell when six five minute pauses
were added.
• It remained the same when they were dismissed at
4:00 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m.
• Mayo believes “what actually happened was that
six individuals became a team and the team gave
itself wholeheartedly and spontaneously to
cooperation in the experiment. The consequence
was that they felt themselves to be participating
freely and without afterthought, and were happy in
the knowledge that they were working without
coercion from above or limitations from below.”
• Work is a group activity.
• Social world for an adult is primarily patterned
about work.
• Need for recognition, security and sense of
• Complaints, commonly a symptom manifesting
disturbance of an individual’s status position.
Conclusions Cont.
• Attitudes and effectiveness are conditioned by
social demands.
• Informal groups at work are strong social controls
over the work habits and attitudes of a worker.
• Change from established society to adaptive
• Group collaboration.
Brainstorming: How this can
be used in organizations
• Cooperation and communication
with coworkers.
• Rearrange/reorganize job
• Create an atmosphere of
working as a team.
Nuts and Bolts:
Explanation of Topic
• Interviewing
– Provide insight to workers moral,
their likes and dislikes and how
they felt about their bosses.
Nuts and Bolts:
Explanation of Topic Cont.
• Role of Supervisor
– Retained the responsibility of
making sure that their workers
reached production levels, should
lead their workers.
Nuts and Bolts:
Explanation of Topic Cont.
• Management
– Need to gain active support and
participation from workers, while
maintaining managerial control.
– Be patient with workers, listen to
them, and avoid creating emotional
Nuts and Bolts:
Explanation of Topic Cont.
• Teamwork
– Cooperation, communication, sense
of belonging.
– “Man’s desire to be continuously
associated in work with his fellows is
a strong, if not the strongest, human
characteristic. Any disregard of it by
management or any ill-advised
attempt to defeat this human impulse
leads instantly to some form of defeat
for management itself.”
How it Works in the
• Aspects of Hawthorne Studies
How it Works in the
Field Cont.
• Workers
– Insights, suggestions, likes and
dislikes, moral, training.
• Management
– Transfer of power to workers,
knowing their workers.
How it Works in the
Field Cont.
• Motivation
– Incentives to increase productivity
and quality.
• Productivity
– By increasing the output rate and
keeping costs down, the company
will be able to increase profits.
Real World Example
• Swedish Case
– Pay system didn’t fit the structure
of jobs and organization.
– Two years later an incentive
system was added, productivity
went up 45%.
Real World Example
• Swedish Case
– New incentive system provided
motivation through tying
cooperation and teamwork.
• Brainstorm ideas that can motivate
employees to increase productivity
and find ways to implement them.
• Think of more efficient ways in
which a process can be completed
and who you might go to in order to
find this out.
• Hawthorne Studies dealing with
worker motivation and work
• Increase communication and
cooperation among coworkers.
Summary Cont.
• Motivation can cause an increase in
• Involve employees in decision making.
• Create a sense of belonging by creating
• “Man and Work in Society.” Edited by
Eugene Louis Cass and Frederick G.
Zimmer. 1975. New York: Van Nostrand
Reinhold Company.
• “Manufacturing Knowledge, A History of
the Hawthorne Experiments.” Richard
Gillespie. 1952. New York: Press Syndicate
of the University of Cambridge.
• http://courses.bus.ualberta.ca/orga417reshef/mayo.html
• http://www.accelteam.com/motivation/hawthorne_02.html