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Q.1. What is human relations approach to Management? Critically evaluate its contribution to Management theory.


Discuss the impact of Hawthorne Experiments on Management thought.

Human Relations Approach Historical Perspective

Scientific management remained concerned tithe the efficiency and productivity of workmen at the shop floor. Fayol’s functional approach to management aimed as improving the managerial activities and performance at top level in the organization. Between 1925, opinion of many experts was directed towards the human element or aspect of the organization. They drew their attention from “work” emphasis to “worker” emphasis. It was clearly felt that earlier approaches to management were incomplete and insufficient in that there was little recognition of the importance of workers as human beings, their attitudes, feelings, needs and requirements. In fact, the technical approach to work methods in scientific management did not produce durable and desirable results in all cases. Individual and group relationships in the work place often prevented maximum benefits to be derived from planning and standardization of work or monetary rewards offered for efficiency. Elton Mayo is the founder of this theory.

Hawthorne Experiments

The human relations approach to management developed as a result of a series of experiences (in all four) conducted by Elton Mayo and his associates F.J. Reothlisherger and W.J. Dickson at the Hawthrone plant of the Western Electric Company at Chicago in United States. The Hawthrone studies were aimed at finding out what factors really influenced the productivity and work performance of workers. These experiments were made with respect to – different levels of illumination in the work place changing in working conditions like hours of work, lunches, test periods and how group norms affect group effort and output.

Human Relations Concepts: Findings of Hawthorne Studies

The main findings of Hawthrone studies were as follows:

1. Physical environment at work place (i.e., working conditions) do not have any material effect on the efficiency of work.

2. Social or human relationship influenced productivity more directly than changes in working conditions.

3. Favourable attitudes of workers and work-teams towards their work were more important factors determining efficiency.

4. Fulfillment of workers social and psychological needs have a beneficial effect on the morale and efficiency of workers.

5. Employee groups formed on the basis of social interactions and common interest exercised a strong influence on workers, performance. In other words, informal organization controlled the norms established by the groups in respect of each member’s output.

6. Workers cannot be motivated solely by economic reward. More important motivators are job security, recognition by superiors and freedom to take initiative and to express their individual opinions as matters of their own concern.

Fahim Patel

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