Conclusion and Criticism of Human Relation Model

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 4: Human Relation Model and Hawthorne Experiments

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4


Conclusion and Criticism of Human Relation Model

Conclusions of Hawthorne Studies / Experiments

The conclusions derived from the Hawthorne Studies were as follows :-

  1. The social and psychological factors are responsible for workers’ productivity and job satisfaction. Only good physical working conditions are not enough to increase productivity.
  2. The informal relations among workers influence the workers’ behaviour and performance more than the formal relations in the organization.
  3. Employees will perform better if they are allowed to participate in decision-making affecting their interests.
  4. Employees will also work more efficiently, when they believe that the management is interested in their welfare.
  5. When employees are treated with respect and dignity, their performance will improve.
  6. Financial incentives alone cannot increase the performance. Social and Psychological needs must also be satisfied in order to increase productivity.
  7. Good communication between the superiors and subordinates can improve the relations and the productivity of the subordinates.
  8. Special attention and freedom to express their views will improve the performance of the workers.

Criticism of Hawthorne Studies / Experiments

The Hawthorne Experiments are mainly criticized on the following grounds:

  1. Wrong Interpretations: It is critically believed that vast difference between the bank wiring observation room and the Relay assembly test room results was caused by the fact that one group was male and other group was female. Evidence from other sources proves this.
  2. Lacks Validity: The Hawthorne experiments were conducted under controlled situations. These findings will not work in real setting. The workers under observation knew about the experiments. Therefore, they may have improved their performance only for the experiments.
  3. More Importance to Human Aspects: The Hawthorne experiments give too much importance to human aspects. Human aspects alone cannot improve production. Production also depends on technological and other factors.
  4. More Emphasis on Group Decision-making: The Hawthorne experiments placed too much emphasis on group decision-making. In real situation, individual decision-making cannot be totally neglected especially when quick decisions are required and there is no time to consult others.
  5. Over Importance to Freedom of Workers: The Hawthorne experiments give a lot of importance to freedom of the workers. It does not give importance to the constructive role of the supervisors. In reality too much of freedom to the workers can lower down their performance or productivity.
  6. Constrained Applicability: The neo classical theory is not considered to be universal as practically there are many environmental and work conditions which have not been considered and thus it could not be applied to all organizations.

The Hawthorne studies conducted at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in Chicago area, demonstrated that employee behaviour was complex and that the interpersonal interactions between managers and employees played a tremendous role in employee behaviour. 

Elton Mayo conducted these experiments by examining the physical and environmental influences of the workplace (e.g. brightness of light, humidity) and later, moved into psychological aspects (e.g. breaks, group pressure, working hours, managerial leadership) and their impact on employee motivation as it applies to productivity.

Mayo’s work leads to an approach towards people which encourages contribution and self-direction, advocating full participation on matters of significance in order to improve the quality of decisions made and the nature of supervision.


Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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