Essays on Academic Learning, Worker Learning, and the Hawthorne Studies Literature review

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

The paper "Academic Learning, Worker Learning, and the Hawthorne Studies" is a wonderful example of a literature review on management. Between the years of 1924 and 1933, several studies were conducted at a Western Electric Company manufacturing plant near Chicago. The purpose of these studies was to look at the working conditions and productivity at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works (WEHW), a company that was producing electrical equipment. The key effort of the researchers was to explore, scientifically, the manner in which environmental factors influence the productivity of the workers. The studies led to what came to be called the Hawthorne Effect.

The Hawthorne Effect is a sensation that is thought to increase production, not attributed to a change in the working conditions, but because the administration exhibited interest to make improvements. As a result, the worker feels like part of a team and that they have a sense of belonging (Sonnenfeld, 1983). Quite a number of studies were conducted, but three studies that stand out are (1) Illumination studies, (2) Bank wiring room experiments, and (3) Relay Assembly test room. For this paper, I will pay attention to the studies that explored the effect of varying light levels.

All works that have been published on the Hawthorne Effect will be considered, both in the pre-2000s and post-2000s. Their paper is focused on the workers that participated in the original study and who have been referred to in various writings (Parsons, 1974). Hawthorne Studies The research work that transpired between the years of 1924 and 1933 characterizes one of the most essential historic proceedings in human resource development. This collection of research work is named after the plant in which they were conducted, thus called the Hawthorne Studies.

The Hawthorne Studies have been dominant in the progress of the human relations crusade and operated as a robust impetus in evaluating the intricacies of variables that drive human conduct at the workplace (Sonnenfeld, 1983). In general, four conclusions have been drawn from the Hawthorne studies: (1) Individuals’ abilities are imperfect predictors of job performance. The predictors may well give some clue of the physical and mental capability of the individual, but the volume produced is very much swayed by social factors, (2) Work-group customs affect productivity.

Even though the Hawthorne scientists were not the first to identify that workgroups are likely to hash out norms of what is "a fair day's work, ” they offered the best-organized explanation of this phenomenon, (3) Casual organization upsets productivity. The Hawthorne scholars learned of a group life amongst the workers. Moreover, they revealed that the relationships that managers cultivate with workers are disposed to sway the way in which the workers implement instructions, and (4) The place of work is a social system consisting of mutually dependent parts. Impact of Hawthorne Effect on Non-Managerial Workers The Hawthorne Effect has been described as a mental sensation in which participants in behavioral research transform their conduct or performance in rejoinder to being observed by the researcher.

In the place of work, the Hawthorne effect can describe how the more responsiveness a worker has from the managers, co-workers besides customers, the higher the worker’ s level of effort and productivity. In essence, a worker’ s productivity goes up just the once they think that they are being observed watchfully.


Blalock, A.B. & Blalock Jr., H.M. (1982). Introduction to social research. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Carey, A. (1967). The Hawthorne Studies: A radical criticism. American Sociological Review, 32, 403-16.

Draper, S. (2006). The Hawthorne, Pygmalion, placebo and other effects of expectation: some notes. Retrieved January 1, 2015, from .

Freedman, J.L., Sears, D.O., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1981). Social psychology, 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Mayo, E. (1933). The human problems of an industrial civilization. New York: MacMillan.

Parsons, H. M. (1974). What happened at Hawthorne? Science, vol. 183, no. 4128, pp. 922-32.

Rice, B. (1982). The Hawthorne defect: Persistence of a flawed theory. Psychology Today, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 70-4.

Sonnenfeld, J. (1983) Commentary: Academic Learning, Worker Learning, and the Hawthorne Studies, Social Forces, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 904-9.

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us