The "Hawthorne effect" draws its name from a landmark set of studies conducted at the Hawthorne plant in the 1920s. The data from the first and most influential of these studies, the "Illumination Experiment," were never formally analyzed and were thought to have been destroyed. Our research has uncovered these data. Existing descriptions of supposedly remarkable data patterns prove to be entirely fictional. We do find more subtle manifestations of possible Hawthorne effects. We also propose a new means of testing for Hawthorne effects based on excess responsiveness to experimenter-
induced variations relative to naturally occurring variation. (JEL C90, J24, J28, M12, M54, N32)
Levitt, Steven D., and John A. List.
"Was There Really a Hawthorne Effect at the Hawthorne Plant? An Analysis of the Original Illumination Experiments."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Design of Experiments: General
Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
Personnel Management; Executive Compensation
Personnel Economics: Labor Management
Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: U.S.; Canada: 1913-