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The Hawthorne effect describes a temporary change to behavior or performance in

response to a change in the environmental conditions, with the response being ty


pically an improvement. The term was coined in 1955 by Henry A. Landsberger[1] w
hen analyzing older experiments from 1924-1932 at the Hawthorne Works (outside C
hicago). Landsberger defined the Hawthorne effect as:
a short-term improvement caused by observing worker performance.
The Hawthorne studies have had a dramatic effect on management in organizations
and how people react to different situations. Although illumination research of
workplace lighting formed the basis of the Hawthorne effect, other changes such
as maintaining clean work stations, clearing floors of obstacles, and even reloc
ating workstations resulted in increased productivity for short periods of time.
Thus the term is used to identify any type of short-lived increase in productiv
ity. In short, people will be more productive when appreciated or when watched.[
1][2][3]
The term Hawthorne effect has been linked with numerous other terms, including:
epistemic feedback, systemic bias, implicit social cognition, and continuous imp
rovement.
[edit] History
The term gets its name from a factory called the Hawthorne Works,[4] where a ser
ies of experiments on factory workers were carried out between 1924 and 1932.
There were many types of experiments conducted on the employees, but the purpose
of the original ones was to study the effect of lighting on workers productivity
. Researchers found that productivity almost always increased after a change in
illumination but later returned to normal levels. This effect was observed for m
inute increases in illumination. Over time changes in illumination had no measur
able effect probably due to regression brought on by the increased stress.[citat
ion needed]
A second set of experiments began and were supervised by Harvard University prof
essors Elton Mayo, Fritz Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson. They experimente
d on other types of changes in the working environment, using a study group of f
ive young women. Again, no matter the change in conditions, the women nearly alw
ays produced more. The researchers reported that they had accidentally found a w
ay to increase productivity. The effect was an important milestone in industrial
and organizational psychology, organizational behavior, and Ergonomics. However
, some researchers have questioned the validity of the effect because of the exp
erimental design and faulty interpretations