Essay on the History of Human Relations Movement

A stress laid on a series of techniques for increasing production rates through the means of better cost accounting procedure, premium and incentives.

In 1927, some studies were conducted at the Hawthrone plant of Western Electric. These studies were promoted by an experiment carried out by the company’s engineers. Following the scientific management tradition, these engineers were applying research methods of answer to job related problems.

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Two groups were studied to determine the effects of illumination on worker’s perfor­mance. One group received increased illumination, while the other did not. A preliminary finding was that, the level of performance also increased with the increase of illumination.

Surprisingly to the engineers, productivity also increased when the level of illumination was decreased almost to moonlight levels. One interpretation for the above phenomena was that the workers involved in the experiment thought that they have been specially selected by the management for a specific purpose. So, they considered themselves important and worked hard for the production.

Because of the preliminary findings, a team of researchers headed by Elton Mayo and F. J. Roethlisberger conducted a series of experiments extending over a period of six years.

The most findings of these experiments are as follow:

(i) Economic incentives are less potent than generally believed in influencing workers to achieve high level of output.

(ii) Leadership practices and work group pressure profoundly influence employee’s satisfaction and performance.

(iii) Any factor influencing employee’s behaviours embedded in social system. For example, to understand the impact of pay on performance, you have to understand the climate that exists in the work group and the leadership style of the superior.

As a consequence of Hawthrone studies, worker’s attitudes, morale, group influences, etc., became a concern of researchers. The researchers observed that supervisors of high producing units behaved differently than those of the low-producing units.

Supervisors of the high producing units were:

(i) More emotionally supportive of subordinates.

(ii) More likely to play a differential role plan, regulate, co-ordinate the activities of subordinates, but not become directly involved in work task.

(iii) More likely to exercise general rather than close or tight supervision.

Another major development in the human relations movement is the proliferation of programmes and techniques designed to move organizations towards more honest and authentic ways of dealing with work problems and each other.

Today the majority of large business Organizations participates in some form of organizations development (OD) with the help of improving organization effectiveness.