Mayo`s Experiment - Business Studies A Level for WJEC

The Hawthorn Experiments
Elton Mayo’s Study on
Employee Motivation and
Work Productivity
The Hawthorne Studies were conducted from 19271932 at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in
Chicago, where Harvard Business School Professor
Elton Mayo examined productivity and work conditions.
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 – but he discovered
something more important, the working of ‘group
Mayo’s Experiment
• Five women assembled telephone relays, one
supplied the parts.
• Mayo made frequent changes in working
conditions with the workers consent.
• Records were kept of relays made, temperature
and humidity of rooms, medical and personal
• No one supervised the female employees.
• They were told to work any way that felt best and
at a comfortable pace.
• Productive capacity was measured by recording the
employees output for two weeks before the study
• First five weeks, no changes were made.
• Third stage, a pay system was ensured allowing the
workers to earn in proportion to their efforts.
• Eight weeks later, two five-minute rest pauses were
• 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.
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 break
•They were dismissed at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m
•Output slightly fell when six five minute pauses were
•It remained the same when they were dismissed at 4:00
p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m
The experiment was then reproduced using
male workers.
The responses were quite different from, and
often the reverse of those found when
investigating female workers.
The factors that increased output with the
female workers, often saw no change or even a
decrease in output, under male workers.
The conclusions from Mayo’s experiments may seem
obvious now, but the factory had been operating under
Taylorian conditions.
• Work is a group activity – group dynamics can dictate
reactions to change
• Attitudes and effectiveness are conditioned by social
demands – workers are influenced by other workers.
• Informal groups at work are strong social controls over the
work habits and attitudes of a worker
•Need for recognition, security and sense of belonging
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 upsets.
• Transfer of power to workers will only work if
management knows their workers and how
group dynamics work.
• Encourage positive groups, discourage
negative groups
Management need to : • Encourage insights, and suggestions from
• Encourage co-operation, communication,
sense of belonging.
• Provide incentives to increase productivity and
Mayo on group dynamics
“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