The Hawthorne Effect

Have you ever heard of the Hawthorne Effect?  Unless you student organizational communication or behavior, probably not!  This study really brought to the surface the difference between communicating to your audience and communicating with your audience.  And what ensued was a movement to focus more on human resources and relations in our modern-day businesses.  Communication makes all the difference.


· What is the Hawthorne Effect?

· How can communicating with your employees be beneficial?

· How has communication changed in organizations from the 1950s to today?

· What gave rise to the human relations and resources movement?

· Why is having a two way street of communication effective for organizations?


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Organizations back in the 50’s were really focused on productivity, especially in the factories. At that time, they believed there was one best way to do every task under the sun. So the Hawthorne Electric plant brought in some researchers to see how slight changes in the environment would affect worker’s productivity. They experimented with things like lighting for example. They would dim the lights and then they would raise the lights to see how that affected worker’s productivity. No matter what condition they tried they either had the same level or heightened levels of productivity from the employees. So the researchers and the management initially were bewildered.

Why on earth would all these environmental changes cause a rise in productivity? The key? The workers were being communicated with. This study gave rise to the human relations movement, which really shows the importance of not only communicating to, but communicating with your employees. So communication in organizations today needs to be a two way street in order it to be most effective.


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