In 1924 General Electric preformed a study at a commissioned plant in Illinois. Researchers told workers they were going to increase lighting in the production areas of the plant to determine if it would increase production. It did.
Once again they increased the lighting and once more production increased. The researchers were ecstatic. A third time, they increased the lighting and yet again production increased again. GE was so happy. They have cracked a code to increasing American production and found a way to infinitely increase light bulb sales.
That was until one researcher suggested that productivity only increased because the workers knew they were being monitored.
They then came up with the idea to tell workers that they would increase light one last time but in reality didn’t touch the lighting. Guess what. Production increased anyway. The Hawthorn Effect proves that production increases when it is monitored.
When I was younger I remember how the Hawthorne Effect affected me. It was Saturday morning and we had just played a football game the night before. It was after the first game of the season. We arrived at the field house to review the game film of the previous night. A cold chill went up my spine.
The coach was playing, rewinding, and replaying our play assignments. He got to one where the camera man had focused in on me. I had been lazy that play and only half-heartedly put in effort into my assignment. The coach played that part and then rewound the tape. He played it again and rewound it. He played it once more then pressed the pause button after it played through. He turned and looked at me. He didn’t say a word…just looked at me. I thought to myself, “Never again………..Never again will this happen. I’ll never be caught doing less than I can.”