Hawthorne Experiments Online Exhibition

1 December 2007 at 1:16 pm 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

As part of its 100th anniversary HBS is featuring a number of online exhibitions, including this one on the famous Hawthorne Experiments from 1924 to 1933. A nice set of photos, documents, and commentary.

Here is Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s 1985 article on the Hawthorne studies (JSTOR), emphasizing their role in challenging the Taylorite “scientific management” paradigm and laying the groundwork for the modern discipline of organizational behavior. “The prevailing notions of the time of the Hawthorne studies were that individual human behavior was to be corrected for and controlled. The study of purely formal static social structures all but disappeared with the publication of the Hawthorne research. . . . [T]he Hawthorne researchers were the first to emphasize the social complexities of organization life and what came to be called a systems approach (p. 115).”

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the Hawthorne effect, the phenomenon of subjects in a behavioral experiment changing their behavior in response to being observed (or, more generally, anyone behaving differently in response to attention). The section of the exhibit on the Hawthorne effect is slicker but less detailed.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory.

How Commies Build Cars Austrian Economics and Pictograms: A Connection?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. spostrel  |  4 December 2007 at 5:56 pm

    As Paul Adler has shown, this move by the OB field was a huge blunder. For repetitive assemly operations, lean manufacturing, a kind of enhanced Taylorism, actually works much better (in terms of productivity) than the “humanistic” systems pushed by the theory Y types. Wasted motion, time, and resources are not redeemed by high morale, whether induced by Hawthorne effects or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Authors

Nicolai J. Foss | home | posts
Peter G. Klein | home | posts
Richard Langlois | home | posts
Lasse B. Lien | home | posts

Guests

Former Guests | posts

Networking

Recent Posts

Categories

Feeds

Our Recent Books

Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).