It's What's on the Outside that Counts

Why many efforts at team building miss half the point

Our modern understanding of the imortance of workplace group dynamics dates to a series of experiments conducted in the 1920s and '30s at a telephone-equipment plant in Cicero, Ill. The Hawthorne studies, overseen by Harvard Business School professor Elton Mayo and named after the factory where they took place, set out to examine the relationship between working conditions--the amount of light in a room, say--and productivity. In one experiment, six women from the shop floor were put into a group and then observed while Mayo's researchers adjusted such variables as the number of rest breaks and their meals. Any change, it...

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