The Hawthorne Studies And Experiment Sociology Essay

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This study is based on the scientific terms: 'what is cause and what is effect'. Taylor's scientific management is a 'business efficiency' technique wherein skilled crafts are converted to a series of simplified jobs that an unskilled worker can be trained to do. It is based on four principles:

a. Data Gathering: This is critical for organizational change, either for data analysis results used in decision making or to understand any working processes. Time and motion methods used by Taylor(recording the time taken by a worker for each action/motion while performing a job, using a stopwatch), if implemented properly will help determine the optimal performance of a job by reducing the motions to the basic minimum, thus minimizing the time taken, resulting in greater productivity and efficiency.

b. Worker selection and development : Hiring and assigning the employees jobs/tasks based on their skill sets and training the workers to excel in their jobs rather than leaving them to train themselves while on the job leads to optimum utilization of the workforce.

c. Integration of the science and the trained worker : Integrating the trained employee and latest work methods are very important for the success of the organization. According to Taylor the employees must be treated well, their wishes and requirements fulfilled and incentives paid to increase their motivation. Taylor recommends that management of the organization must adopt new work models to succeed.

d. Re-division of the work of the business : The job of the worker was to perform the work assigned and the job of the manager was to plan and monitor the work assigned to the worker. The role of the managers is similar to the role of scientists, constantly collecting data and analyzing the data and then planning the next segment of the company's work accordingly. Managers are responsible for providing the requisite resources to the workers to complete their jobs. Taylor stressed the importance of cooperation between workers and managers for a successful organization.

The implementation of scientific management led to monotony of work, key factors like skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback were missing, and it treated human workers as machines. However, Taylor is believed to be not only the father of scientific management but also the father of Industrial engineering. Henry Ford applied Taylor's scientific management principles in his automobile factories. The present day terms Re-engineering, business process engineering, ISO 9000, six sigma and quality management have evolved from Taylor.

2. The Hawthorne Studies:

The Hawthorne studies are a significant contribution to social science approach. These studies demonstrated the importance of group norms and standards and informal organization. The study demonstrated influence of psychological factors on worker productivity and morale. They signaled the criticality of certain variables of worker satisfaction : autonomy on the job, lack of need for close supervision, more control over the relationship between performance and rewards and having choices and some influence over the change and humanistic treatment of workers on the job. Worker productivity would be interpreted predominately in terms of social group dynamics, motivation, leadership and human relations.

Researchers from Western Electric and Harvard University led the Hawthorne studies. The studies were intended to examine the influence of environmental variables on a group of production workers. The group of workers was divided into two subgroups: a test group, which would undergo environmental changes, and a control group. The members of the control group would work under normal, constant environment conditions.

The researchers began by manipulating the lighting of the test group. When lighting for the test group was increased, their productivity increased--but the productivity of the control group increased, as well. This result was somewhat unexpected, since the lighting at the workstations of the control group had not been altered. 

The researchers then decreased the lighting at the test group's workstations. Surprisingly, both the test group and the control group continued to improve their productivity. There were no decreases in productivity until the light was reduced to the point where the workers could barely see. The researchers concluded that light did not have a significant impact on the motivation of production workers.

The next experiment utilized a mainstay of scientific management: incentive-based, piecework system. The researchers expected, according to the conventional wisdom of the day, that this would inspire the employees to dramatically increase their pace. However, rather than working as fast as they could individually, the workers calibrated themselves as a group.

3. Organization Development:

Organization development (OD) has given us a systematic process to implement effective organization change.Organization development is known as both a field of applied behavioral science focused on understanding and managing organizational change and as a field of scientific study and inquiry. It is interdisciplinary in nature and draws on sociology, psychology, and theories of motivation, learning, and personality. Organizational development brings changes to the attitudes, values and beliefs of organization, so that people can adapt to new technologies and challenges of the business. OD includes both inventions and innovations along with the involvement of major stakeholders and people in the organization in the process of growth and development. Organizational development (OD) is the long range effort to solve the problems in the workplace. We can give hundreds of definitions for OD but it can be simply summarized as the process for a group to achieve its goals, mission and vision in the most effective and efficient manner possible. OD involves the following four components: organizational reflection, system improvement, planning and self-analysis.


The Hawthorne and OD changed the impression of management from Taylor's scientific or engineering approach to social sciences approach. The worker productivity would be interpreted based on social group dynamics, motivation, leadership and human relationship. As per scientific management, those who design the work should be separate from those who perform the work. Hawthorne studies, on the other hand, lay emphasis on employee motivation and also obliterate a major factor from scientific theory that workers are motivated only by economic gain. The Hawthorne studies prove that social needs are an additional source of motivation. The results were due to a team spirit between the workers and the greater productivity was generated by the workers themselves because of a sense of contentment, not planned by the managers, unlike in scientific management. Scientific management and Hawthorne studies are similar due to the fact that both study workers performing repetitive tasks. The foundation for OD is based on three theories: scientific management, ideal bureaucracy and administrative management. Ideal bureaucracy is an idea or theory of how human activity should be organized and administrative management is simply a set of organizing principles for managers to apply in organizations. OD is evolved based on all the previous theories. Organizational development (OD) is the long range effort to solve the problems in the workplace. OD is termed as a growing field that is responsible for many new models which includes positive adult development. Do all three perspectives bring any effectiveness to organizational profitability? Yes of course.


All the three perspectives are intended to bring effective organizational changes. The studies or theories got matured over the time. Each study brought in changes that have not existed or been analyzed before. Scientific management used systematic approach, Hawthorne studies brought in Human Dimension to organizational changes. These two studies paved the path for a new study organizational development. Organizational development enhanced productivity and competitiveness. None of these perspectives work without the proper foundation that allow changes to take place. For most of the initiatives in organizations to succeed, crucial support from top management is needed. In fact lack of top management support is a guarantee of failure.

Example of evolutionary change from experience:

I worked for Oracle on demand which is a customer centric service, a new business model evolved in 2000. Oracle on demand service hosts and supports IT infrastructure that consists of Oracle Relational Databases and business applications for small and mid size companies so that IT overhead costs are reduced and these organizations can focus on their products rather than spending significant costs on IT (Information Technology) support by utilizing Oracle's expertise for a nominal fee. This kind of customer centric services are very competitive in nature as more and more companies are looking for saving money and getting 24X7 support. There are so many companies that compete for this kind of Business. As I mentioned in the beginning, that this service is totally dependent on customer satisfaction. If customer is not satisfied they will cancel the contracts and take their business to another provider. When this business model started few years back at Oracle there were no processes, policies to tackle this kind of Business model. This resulted in chaos between the various teams that work for Oracle On demand due to lack of properly defined roles and responsibilities and we were unable to support customers in a timely manner. Oracle lost many customers to competitors. This caused revenue loss to the organization and that prompted layoffs. Oracle On demand went back to the drawing board and brought in organizational change consultants to come up with a model that would fix the chaos. The consultants recommended re-organizing the entire on demand business unit, bringing in top level management that had experience in customer oriented businesses and bringing in lots of management policies, procedures, quality and hiring expert resources to tackle the customers. Oracle followed these recommendations and matured all the business processes now. It took 1-2 yrs to adopt the changes and mature the processes. Now On demand has one of the best support models to take care of customers and they earned back lot of On demand customers (more than 500) and gained a lot of respect from customers.

Example of revolutionary change from experience:

Oracle's flagship software is the oracle relational database. Part of Oracle Corporation's early success arose from using the C programming language to implement its products. This eased porting to different operating systems (most of which support C). This gave Oracle Corporation an advantage over companies using operating-system-specific languages. Oracle database is the first to provide read consistency, client-server DBMS, and the first 64-bit database. It has enlarged its share of the software market through organic growth and through a number of high-profile acquisitions. Oracle brought a revolutionary change to its products and services. It started with database software and has now developed/acquired so many products. Oracle products brought revolutionary changes to the business applications. With the acquisition of Sun Micro systems, oracle is marketing hardware solutions.

Explanation of which change was adopted easily and why:

In oracle the only form of change accepted is revolutionary as per my observation. There is no scope and time for evolutionary change. Oracle acquired so many companies in a short span of time to beat the competitors and to revolutionize business applications. The policy of oracle what I observed is to adopt the new change as fast as you can or quit the job. Sometimes they will do a re-org quarterly and layoff people since their expertise is no more required to support their products which they incorporated through acquisitions.