The human relations approach is based on research by Homans, Mayo, Roethlisberger, Dickson and Whitehead in the Hawthorne works of Western Electric Corp. von Chicago (1927-1932), who deal with various experiments:
Experiment on group dynamics
In a light experiment, a test group and a control group were formed, which were exposed to different levels of lighting in their work areas. The two groups showed roughly the same increase in performance despite different illuminance levels. The main reason for this was recognized to be that the affected person was spoken to whenever changes were necessary. The cooperative approach to the workforce thus had a positive effect on their performance.
Similar results were obtained in a pause experiment. Here, too, it was not the increase in breaks that was decisive for the steady increase in performance, but the changed social attitude towards the workers.
In an observation room experiment, the workers installed switches for telephone systems. At first it was assumed that they would work as hard as possible to get the highest hourly wage possible. In the observation room, however, the workers produced far less than what they would have been physically able to do. Namely, they followed a social norm which determined the amount of production within the group. It was recognized that group dynamics are of great importance to success.
The main result of the Hawthorne study is the realization that human relations in the company are important for the work behavior of employees. The attention and attention given to workers was critical to job satisfaction and performance enhancement.