The US human relations movement dominated management thinking until the 1950s and was a significant influence on the development of modern HRM. The movement gained most of its inspiration from the famous Hawthorne studies at the Western Electric Company plant of that name in Chicago from the 1920s to the early 1940s. The plant employed 40,000 people and was regarded as progressive. The studies were organized by the company, with some assistance from the Harvard Business School. The intention was to find out how productivity might be affected if working conditions such as lighting, heating and rest-pauses were varied. Elton Mayo, an Australian professor at Harvard, picked up these studies and publicized a new approach in American management philosophy that spread to many other countries.
Human Resource Management 4th edition considers the significance of the Hawthorne studies in the development of HRM.
Point to consider
* You could evaluate the human relations approach on dimensions such as ‘hard-soft’, ‘authoritarian-liberal’, ‘subjective-objective’, etc.