Behavioral Management and the Hawthorne Effect Essay

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Behavioral management is “the study of how managers should behave to motivate employees, encourage them to perform at high levels and to be committed to the achievement of organizational goals” (Waddell et al. 2007, p. 52). A number of intellectuals explored possible theories that would explain the basis and effect of behaviours of both the management and staff. Some theorists whose ideas are still prominent today include Fredrick Taylor, Mary Follett, Douglas McGregor and Elton Mayo et al. This piece, however, focuses on the ‘Hawthorne effect,’ conducted by Elton Mayo alongside associates F.J. Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson. The ‘hawthorne effect’ refers to an arrangement of experiments that had taken place at the Western Electric Company in Chicago from 1927, through till 1932. This essay focuses on the description and analysis of the research that was conducted and evaluates the relevance and value of the ‘Hawthorne effect’ for managers today. It is important to understand the reasons and consequences behind behavior to implement the best possible behavioural management for the highest productivity achievable. The meaning of the ‘Hawthorne effect’ is still unclear or even misunderstood which will hopefully become clear throughout this essay. Although there are many Criticisms of this theory, it is still very commonly and highly regarded proving to be a valid theory of behavioural management.
The research of the Hawthorne effect was the ‘single most important investigation of the human dimensions of industrial relations in the early 20th century’ (Brannigan & Zwerman 2001, p. 55). These findings were accidently discovered due to the inconsistencies of numerous results from the first few experiments, causing the study t...

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...ystem on knowledge of human nature’ (Brannigan & Zwerman 2001, p. 59). What is important from the Hawthorne Works experiment is what came out of it, as Brannigan & Zwerman (2005, p. 59) agree ‘sometimes and idea is more important than the evidence on which it is based.’

Brannigan, A & Zwerman, W 2001, ‘The Real “Hawthorne Effect”’, Society, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 55-60, retrieved 15 July 2009, Academic Search Premiere database.

DuBrin, J. A 2005, Fundamentals of Organisational Behaviour, South Western, Quebec

Kirwan-Taylor, H 2009, ‘Suffering from the Hawthorne Effect?’, Management today, retrieved 2 August 2009, Business Source Premier Database.

Mullins, J. L 1999, Management and Organisational Behaviour, 5th edn, Pearson Education, Harlow.

Waddell, D, Devine, J, Jones, R. G & George, M. J 2007, Contemporary management, McGraw Hill, NSW.

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