AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Introduction by George Kupczak of the AT&T Archives and History Center

The Hawthorne studies took place in a Western Electric plant back from 1924 to 1932. In the studies, employees were monitored for whether they worked better/faster under different lighting conditions. It turned out the results were irrelevant... but the main takeaway from the experiments was that the employees knew they were being monitored — and productivity increased regardless of the lighting. This 1973 film examines this experiment through the eyes of the men and women who worked in the plants at the time.

What's known as the "Hawthorne Effect" has recently come under scrutiny. In 2009, economists Steven Levitt and John List published a paper discounting those original findings — but they don't discount the fact that the Hawthorne experiments opened up huge possibilities for worker research for the next 80 years.

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 11/28/2011