The name of The Hawthorne Studies comes from the fact that the studies were being conducted at the Hawthorne, Illinois, plant of the Western Electric Company. Elton Mayo of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration is known as one of its early advocates.
The studies were formed based on the assumptions of efficiency experts, saying that more light would result in higher output by workers. They researched this by creating two groups, one as a test group, which would be introduced to varied levels of light to work in, and a control group, which included those who would work under normal lighting. Some results were as anticipated; as lighting power was increased, the output of the test group went up. However, other results were not expected; the output of the control group went up also—without any increase in light.
As you can see from the results, illumination was not the only thing that was at work here. The unexpected led to more research in employee behavior. Next, researchers would improve work conditions as a whole, to see if any improvements would bring about results. Yet, work output increased again. Again, baffled by the results, they quickly changed everything back to the way it was before to see what would happen. How would this impact things? Well, their output increased yet again! It sounds crazy, but the answer to all of this lies in the human aspects of the experimentation.
These individuals, when appreciated by others, began feeling part of a bigger team. When they saw that they were not isolated, they began feeling like they had something bigger than themselves to contribute to. When people are allowed to offer what they have to give, and are appreciated, something very valuable is found in this cohesive form of teamwork. These changes drove employees to work harder than before, and tapped into a newfound motivation.