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HOW ABOUT THE HUMAN SIDE OF ORGANIZATIONS.docx - HOW ABOUT...

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HOW ABOUT THE HUMAN SIDE OF ORGANIZATIONS? Excessive concern for production at the expense of the human element brought about numerous organizational problems. As a result, in the 1920s workers formed or joined unions in greater numbers, and some managers became interested in the behavioral, or human, side of organizations. Some research studies conducted in 1927 are said to have first established OB, then referred to as human relations, as a separate field. They were undertaken at the Hawthorne works of the Western Electric Company in Chicago by the late Elton Mayo (who became known as the father of human relations), F. J. Roethlisberger, and their colleagues at Harvard University. A series of studies involved altering the work environment of a group of production workers in the Relay Assembly Test Room. During the first study, the level of illumination within the work environment was periodically varied. During a follow-up study, 24 different working conditions were changed, sometimes improved and sometimes worsened. These conditions included rest breaks and workday length. However, to the researchers’ amazement, production rates kept climbing and morale improved regardless of the changes made. Many present-day students of human behavior are somewhat surprised at how basic the results of the study actually were. The researchers discovered that when workers are treated like human beings rather than robots, and when they have feelings of pride and personal worth on their jobs as well as the opportunity to g CHAPTER 1 8 # 100920 Cust: PH/OH Au: Drafke Pg No 8 C/K DESIGN SERVICES OF THE RISE OF UNIONS The shock effect of the Great Depression of the 1930s, with almost 25 percent of the U.S. labor force unemployed in 1933, stimulated the cohesiveness and militancy of labor union groups. Managers of the day discovered the need to develop an entirely new style of industrial relations. The judicial and legislative branches of the government began to reverse their previously unsympathetic stance toward collective bargaining. Workers’ sit-downs became common practice. In 1937, for example, the General Motors Corporation agreed to recognize the United Automobile Workers after employees had taken over the plant for almost three months. A union can be defined as an association of workers that has as its major objective the improvement of conditions related to employment. The word conditions can represent anything from higher wages to a day off with pay on an employee’s birthday. Union activity has long had a significant effect on organizations. Unions have not only had an effect on wages and benefits, but they have also worked hard to improve job safety and working conditions. THE DECLINE OF UNION MEMBERSHIP In the last 20 years, union membership has declined, in part because of a decline in the number of factory jobs. Some observers of the labor union scene contend that unions are weaker in the United States primarily because of their success in raising the wages of their members. The difference between union and nonunion wages, for example, is
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