Construction of the Western Electric Hawthorne Works on over 100 acres in Cicero, Illinois, began in 1905. By 1929 more than 40,000 men and women reported to work at the massive plant, which included offices, factories, a hospital, fire brigade, laundry facilities, and a greenhouse. This pamphlet provides a complete introduction to this manufacturing plant.
From 1928 to 1932 Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger oversaw the process of conducting more than 21,000 interviews and worked closely training researchers in interviewing practices. Interviews, which averaged around 30 minutes, grew to 90 minutes or even two hours in length in a process meant to provide an emotional release. The resulting records, hundreds and hundreds of pages in which employees disclose personal details of their day to day lives, offer an astonishingly intimate portrait of the American industrial worker in the years leading to and following the Depression The studies monitoring the output of relay assembly workers, which began in 1927, continued until 1932, becoming the longest running Hawthorne experiments. The six operators studied in a separate test room were single women in their teens and early twenties. For a period of five years, they were extensively interviewed. After seventy years, restrictions regarding access to these interviews have been lifted.
Published by the Harvard Business School Bureau of Business Research, this monograph provides a summary of findings of the Hawthorne Experiments by HBS professor Fritz Roethlisberger and W. J. Dickinson of Western Electric. The Bureau of Business Research was established in 1911 to conduct organized research in the field of business administration. The monograph precedes their later account of the experiments, Management and the Worker, published in 1939.
This paper, with contributions by George Pennock and M. L. Putnam of Western Electric and Harvard Business School professor Elton Mayo, was presented at the annual conference of the Personnel Research Federation in New York in 1929. It includes findings from the experiments and a summary of the relay assembly test room studies.
Considered one of the classic texts on the Hawthorne Experiments, this account by Harvard Business School professor Thomas North Whitehead offers a detailed statistical analysis of the studies.
This album contains 81 black and white photographs documenting the operations of the Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works in 1925. The images depict general views of the plant’s buildings and grounds, the offices and laboratories, the various shop departments, including the telephone apparatus, cable, rubber, and insulating operations, and the rod and wire mill. Many of the photographs show factory employees at work at their stations.
Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center
Western Electric News was the employee magazine at the Western Electric Company, published from 1912 to 1933. Baker Library holds volumes 1–20, March 1912–February 1932.
© President and Fellows of Harvard College