Understanding the Hawthorne Effect: What You Need to Know after Dispatcher Training

Driver safety is a significant concern in the transportation industry. In order to provide a safer work environment, many companies are implementing technology such as stability control systems, lane departure warnings, and reactive cruise-control, as well as in-cabin video surveillance.

The use of video surveillance is somewhat of a hotly debated issue for professionals in transportation. Some drivers may feel as if their employers don’t trust them or are constantly monitoring for mistakes to penalize. Other have concerns about their privacy. There are, however, unintended benefits that come from video surveillance, including something known as the Hawthorne Effect.

If you’re interested in starting a career in dispatch and transportation, read on to learn a few facts about how cameras in the cab may positively affect job performance.

Dispatchers May Be Interested in the History of the Hawthorne Effect

The discovery of the Hawthorne Effect was actually somewhat unintended. Researchers in the 1920s and 30s conducted a series of experiments at an electric company located in Hawthorne, Illinois to see if different aspects of the work environment like lighting, frequency of breaks, and length of the work day affected overall worker productivity. These researchers found that almost any change in conditions led to increased productivity, but the more interesting results of the experiment were not initially discovered until two decades later.

The Hawthorne Effect can change how people react when they know they’re being watched
The Hawthorne Effect can change how people react when they know they’re being watched

After looking into the experiments, researcher Henry A. Landsberger found that the worker’s productivity had dropped significantly at the end of the study. He concluded that the spike in productivity may have been due to the fact that the workers knew they were being monitored, and increased their performance because of the attention they were receiving. He named this new concept the Hawthorne Effect, in honor of the original location of the experiments, and it actually plays more of a role in your career after dispatcher training than you may think.

What Does the Hawthorne Effect Have to Do with Dispatcher Schools?

The Hawthorne Effect can be applied to many different workplace environments, including, among others, the fleet lot and the inside of a truck driver’s cab.

The use of video surveillance is not a particularly new concept to the transportation industry, but it has become more widely adopted in recent years, which means it may be fairly common in your career after your dispatch course. The introduction of forward-facing and driver-facing cameras inside a driver’s cab give dispatchers an inside look at their day-to-day work, as well as the conditions they face on the road, and these cameras also provide additional evidential support in case of an accident.

In-cab cameras have the benefit of promoting accountability with drivers and their transportation team, which is where the Hawthorne Effect comes in. The presence of video surveillance means that drivers and dispatchers are both more aware of how they act on the road, which can improve drivers’ overall safety.

In 2018, for instance, a fleet without safety technology had a rate of 2.61 accidents per million miles, while trucks that included safety technology had a rate of 1.05 per million. Although this can’t all be attributed to the driver’s awareness of their audience, the use of cameras can make them more cautious about their driving behaviour, which has the potential to improve their own safety as well as that of other drivers on the road.

Are you interested in starting a new and rewarding career in transportation?

Contact Automotive Training Centres for more information about our dispatcher schools.

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