One of the earliest studies of human behavior at work was done at AT&T’s
Western Electric Hawthorne Plant from 1927 to 1932 by Harvard’s Elton Mayo.
Their principle findings are still relevant today: when workers have an
opportunity to contribute their thinking and learning to workplace issues, their
job performance improves.
“The success of your organization doesn’t depend on your understanding of economics, or organizational development, or marketing. It depends, quite simply, on your understanding of human psychology: how each individual employee connects with your company and how each individual employee connects with your customers.” Curt Coffman and Gabriela Gonzalez-Molina, Ph.D. in Follow This Path: How the World’s Greatest Organizations Drive Growth by Unleashing Human Potential, Warner 2002.
Subsequent research in the seventy years that have passed since the Hawthorne
study continues to reveal much the same thing: in order to tap into the
potential of human capital, executives and leaders must pay attention to their
employees, on a level that respects their basic human nature and individual
Yet a growing number of executives intuitively know what research by the Gallup
Organization reveals: most organizations are running at about one third of their
human potential. Successful organizations don’t expect that employee incentives
will guarantee better job performance. Instead they pay attention to human
During the Enlightenment (1762), Rousseau observed that institutions can only
flourish if they are founded on a social contract that enables human beings to
pursue their individual and collective interests to the fullest extent possible.
This French philosopher knew then what we emphasize in successful organizations
The modern enterprise flourishes when there is attention to and respect for the
human beings that contribute their work efforts.
Important concepts covered in the full 2,000 word article:
Theories of basic human behaviors
Personality styles and their assessments
The Big 5 Personality Factors
Maslow and Hierarchy of Needs
McClelland and 3 drives
Herzberg and Hygiene Factors
The Hawthorne Studies
New Drive Theory from Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria
A List of Resources
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