Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the Hawthorne effect

I was looking at The Economist online, because I like the cover for this week's issue so much, and I happened upon an article that I thought bears pretty interestingly on a lot of things we talk about in class. Basically, experiments were conducted in which changes of various kinds were made in the environment of one group of workers, and not in that of another. The results were kind of surprising:

The experimenters concluded that it was not the changes in physical conditions that were affecting the workers’ productivity. Rather, it was the fact that someone was actually concerned about their workplace, and the opportunities this gave them to discuss changes before they took place.

The man who conducted the experiment, who went on to teach industrial research at Harvard, said it this way:

The desire to stand well with one’s fellows, the so-called human instinct of association, easily outweighs the merely individual interest and the logic of reasoning upon which so many spurious principles of management are based.

"The desire to stand well with one's fellows", i.e. respect. In all of the scene work we do in the class, we see how the desire for respect is a core need for all of us, and how even while working towards long term goals as a characters, we always have one eye on the quantum of respect that can be won or lost at each moment.

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