Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Psychology in the Workplace

What about the human element?

Both Weber’s and Taylor’s organizational models treated the workplace as a machine. Workers were cogs in a wheel; their motivation and morale were of little importance to the functioning of the workplace. In fact, Taylor believed that workers had no intrinsic motivation to work. Rather, their performance could only be motivated by carrots (specifically, pay) and sticks (negative consequences for undesirable behavior). Likewise, Weber emphasized the rational and impersonal nature of bureaucratic rules as an antidote to irrational, emotional impulses.

A movement arose in reaction to this dramatically dehumanizing model. The human relations approach recognized that people are motivated by their emotional and social needs as well by monetary rewards. Organizations that neglect the human element miss out on a huge part of what makes people tick. The surprise results of a famous series of experiments known as the Hawthorne studies gave birth to this movement. Nonetheless, while a focus on emotional experiences of workers succeeded in raising worker morale, studies showed that it had little effect on productivity. A later version of this approach, the neo-human relations school, recognized that managers have to attend both to task performance and to the social-emotional aspects of work life.


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