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The Human Relations Movement: Harvard Business School and the Hawthorne Experiments (1924-1933)

In the 1920s Elton Mayo, a professor of Industrial Management at Harvard Business School, and his prot‚g‚ Fritz J. Roethlisberger led a landmark study of worker behavior at Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of AT&T. Unprecedented in scale and scope, the nine-year study took place at the massive Hawthorne Works plant outside of Chicago and generated a mountain of documents, from hourly performance charts to interviews with thousands of employees. Harvard Business School’s role in the experiments represented a milestone in the dawn of the human relations movement.

Harvard Business School’s exhaustive archival record of the experiments reveals the art and science of this seminal behavioral study and the questions and theories it generated about the relationship of productivity to the needs and motivations of the industrial worker. The exhibit and accompanying website feature a range of graphs, charts, interviews, correspondence, photographs, and publications from the library’s collection, selected to tell the story of the Hawthorne experiments and to introduce pioneers in the human relations movement associated with this ground-breaking study.

The exhibition catalog and Web site include an essay by Professors Michel Anteby and Rakesh Khurana on the impact of the Hawthorne Studies on management education today.

Organized by Historical Collections, the exhibit will run September 17, 2007 through January 17, 2008 in the North Lobby of Baker Library at Harvard Business School.

Gallery talks will take place on Thursdays at 4pm on October 18, November 8, and December 6.

The exhibition is available on-line at: //www.library.hbs.edu/hc/hawthorne.

September 24, 2007
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