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Did the Hawthorne Experiments prove that workers became more productive when treated by supervisors with greater informality and friendliness?
First, he uses the Hawthorne Experiments to provide, in fascinating detail, a picture of a research network composed of business executives, philanthropists, and academicians that transformed a piece of "obscure and confusing" industrial research into a landmark series of "discoveries." The research network Gillespie describes combined the influence of a powerful corporation, American Telephone and Telegraph, for which the huge Hawthorne Works factory produced intricate electrical equipment, the prestige of faculty members at a famous university, Harvard, and the financial sponsorship of the mighty Rockefeller Foundation.
The Hawthorne experiments might have drifted to a disappointing end had not, in 1927, the other partners in the network entered.
By systematically deconstructing the Hawthorne experiments - from their inception to their effects on industrial relations and the social sciences - Richard Gillespie successfully shows the complex processes at work in the production and consumption of knowledge.
Schachter views the Hawthorne experiments as a continuation and development of Taylor's ideas rather than a repudiation of them.