Human Relations and Behavioral Science Theory
This theory is a blend of two different theories- The human relations Approach and the Behavioral Science Approach. This theory is believed to be incomplete contradictions of scientific management. As the scientific management focused only on the science of the workforce, this theory got evolved suggesting that management should treat individual workers and their needs. The following part deals with the human relations movement.
Human Relations Approach
Prof. Elton Mayo (1880- 1949) founded the Human Relations Movement. This movement attracted the interest of managers to deal people aspect of an organization more effectively. Her works are discussed after the Hawthorne Experiments. Mayo and his colleagues conducted the experiment under the sponsorship of General Electric that took place at the Western Electric Hawthorne Company, Chicago, Illinois, the USA during the 1930s. They are popularly known as Hawthorne Experiments. His work illustrated that if the company or managers took an interest in employees and cared for them, it had a positive effect on their motivation. When managers took a greater interest in employees they felt more valued and empowered. His work also showed that employees often work best in teams. He also showed that they were more motivated if they were managed and consulted more. The experiments are classified into four categories. They are presented as under:
(i) Illumination Experiments:
Primary Objective:- Examining the positive correlation between illumination and productivity of workers.
This first experiment was conducted under the sponsorship of General Electric at the Western Electric Hawthorne Company, Chicago, Illinois, the USA during the 1930s. Initially, Mayo and his associates established two groups of workers and named each control and experimental (test) group. The first group of workers was engaged on a varying illumination and the later one processed on a perpetual magnitude of illumination. The result was undependable. Productivity increased in both groups when the experimental group was also presented more illumination. When again less illumination was presented to the experimental group productivity continued to increase. Only marginal effect on productivity was observed when later the lighting was reduced to the extent of dim moonlight. Thereafter, General Electric drew off the sponsorship. The reason for such phenomena was drawn- both the groups were overlooked and studied under special attention and sympathetic supervision.
Conclusion of the Experiment:- Illumination is not directly correlated to group productivity.
(ii) Relay Assembly Test Room
Objective:- Discovering such working conditions that would maximize production.
Under this experiment, six female workers were oriented about the study and asked to work in an informal setting. The supervisors and researchers played friend-like roles with them. Several factors of working conditions were admitted in the experiment like; length of working days and working hours, rest periods, temperature, and other physical conditions. The workers tended to increase production and reached a high level even though poor physical conditions were provided. The result surprised the researchers because even the workers couldn’t justify this phenomenon.
However, the following reasons we’re drawn to the phenomenon:
- The subjects were highly cohesive to one another.
- The subjects enjoyed working in an informal setting i.e. test room.
- A social form of supervision enhanced the subject work independently and freely.
(iii) Interviewing Program (1928-1929)
Objective:- Determining the basic factors responsible for human behavior at work.
On the basis of the study and findings of the above second experiment helped Mayo’s team design the interviewing program. The second experiment added to their knowledge that processes of informal groups count a great deal to workers. Under the third experiment, Mayo’s team interviewed 20,000 workers. Initially, direct questions were asked, and later non-directive interviews continued. The study presented that social informal groups existed in all organizations which induced the behavior of individual workers and human behavior was of great importance in the workplace.
(iv) Bank Wiring Observation Room: (1931-1932)
Objective:- Examining the effect of informal groups on productivity irrespective of formal pay incentives.
Under this experiment, nine workers making terminal banks of telephone wiring assemblies were selected and closely observed. The researchers also notified them that individuals would be paid maximum if they produced more. In contrast, the researchers found the workers produce only an acceptable quantity because their group isolated and ragged them in several ways. For case in point, they ragged calling ‘busters’ to the ones who produced more than the group norm, the ones who produced lesser were nagged as ‘squealers’ and the ones who complained the supervisors against their colleagues were called ‘chisellers’. Nevertheless, internal social structure and process played a major role in shaping human behavior at the workplace.
Contributions of Human Relations Theory
The findings of this theory are the contributions to the management field. They are as mentioned below:
1. Its significance lies in discovering and emphasizing informal organizations and facilitates teamwork and collaboration.
2. A social form of supervision enhances to increase the productivity of individuals and groups.
3. Internal social structure and process play an important role in influencing human behavior at workplaces.
4. Besides the money factor social factors are more important motivational tools.
Limitations of Human Relations Theory
The human relations theory is also not an unmixed blessing. The criticisms and limitations of this theory are as mentioned below:
l. The theory focuses much attention on informal relations among workers at the workplace but less on the formal ones.
2. The theory also couldn’t explore the multi-dimensional phenomenon of human motivation completely.
3. Mayo failed to define sharply the ethical presuppositions of his scientific work.
4. Some idealists like Loren Baritz have criticized this theory as being management and anti-unionist.
The United Auto Workers have labeled the Human Relation Theorists as ‘Cow Sociologists’.