The Human Relations Movement One of the undesirable by-products of the factory system was the frequent abuse of unskilled workers, including children, who were often subjected to unhealthy working conditions, long hours, and low pay. The appalling conditions spurred a national anti-factory campaign. Led by Mary Parker Follett and Lillian Gilbreth, the campaign gave rise to the “human relations” movement advocating more humane working conditions. Among other things, the human relations move- ment provided a more complex and realistic understanding of workers as people instead of merely cogs in a factory machine.
The human relations movement highlighted the importance of human behavior on the job. This was also addressed by Chester Barnard, the president of New Jersey Bell Telephone, in his influential 1938 book The Functions of the Executive. Barnard described the organization as a social structure integrating traditional management and behavioral science applications.
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The movement continued into the 1940s, with World War II as a backdrop. Abraham Maslow published his theory on human needs, stating that people can be motivated by both economic and noneconomic incentives.He proposed that human needs are arranged in terms of lesser to greater potency (strength), and distin- guished between lower order (basic survival) and higher order (psychological) needs. Theories like Maslow’s serve to reinforce the notion that the varied needs and desires of workers can become important sources of motivation in the workplace.