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The Hawthorne legacy: A reassessment of the impact of the Hawthorne studies on management scholarship, 1930‐1958

Jeffrey Muldoon (Rucks Department of Management, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 6 January 2012

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to analyze the contribution that the Hawthorne studies made to the discipline of management. The recent scholarly trend has been to attack the Hawthorne studies on the grounds of methodology and originality. However, the only way to accurately view the Hawthorne studies is to recreate the intellectual environment in which the studies were conducted. Why did this version of human relations rather than Dennison's or Williams's emerge as the scholarly contribution?

Design/methodology/approach

Both primary and secondary sources were utilized in the research. The focus was from the time period of 1930 to 1958. More contemporary work was considered as well.

Findings

Contemporary scholars viewed Hawthorne as being more thorough and complete than previous work. They also viewed the study as a contribution in light of some methodological issues and political biases.

Practical implications

Performing temporal analysis allows the perceived strengths and weaknesses of scholarly works to become more apparent.

Originality/value

Previous accounts of the Hawthorne studies have mostly studied their impact on practitioners. This study examines the impact on scholars.

Keywords

Citation

Muldoon, J. (2012), "The Hawthorne legacy: A reassessment of the impact of the Hawthorne studies on management scholarship, 1930‐1958", Journal of Management History, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 105-119. https://doi.org/10.1108/17511341211188682

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited