The Great Management Debate
THE SOURCE: “The Management Century” by Walter Kiechel III, in Harvard Business Review, Nov. 2012.
In 1927, at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois, professors from Harvard Business School set about determining what made workers tick. Their simple but elusive objective: maximizing productivity.
The researchers tried all kinds of strategies on a group of young women assembling parts: more breaks, financial incentives, even better lighting. None of those accounted for much, recounts Walter Kiechel III, former head of Harvard Business Publishing and former managing editor of Fortune magazine. To everyone’s surprise, social factors proved pivotal. Elton Mayo and his Harvard colleagues realized that productivity increased because of the simple fact that the Hawthorne workers had been consulted by the researchers during the experiment and because the women had developed a strong, positive group dynamic.
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