The Campaigner

The Campaigner

Lcwin was no group dynamics expert. That tag, and "scientifically induced" speedup and slave labor.

his quasi-Gestalt field theories, composed a professional The author of Lewin's biography, Alfred J. Marrow,

image apart from his real expertise co-participation, was also a German emigrant, a student of Lewin's, an

social management, community action and brain- expert in co-participation, and at the time of the Hatwashing,

wood experiment, an officer of that company. Marrow

Lewin began his American career in 1933 at Cornell describes the plant's setting:

University, where he worked on a systematic series of ...The factory management faced many critical probstudies

of the "effect of social pressure on the eating lems in trying to train three hundred inexperienced

habits of children in the Cornell Nursery School" [62], a apprentices m people from the Virginia mountains -- to

project that was later put to "better use." A few years meet the high standards of the production of the industrialized

areas of the North. Their trainees-:- mainly

later at the University of Iowa, Lewin, through a grant women with no factory experience- were eager to work,

from the Rockefeller Fund's General Education Board, but on the job their work pace was slow and their output

launched his career as an official counterinsurgent in was low. After the customary twelve weeks of training

what he called "the psychological study of social issues." required for reaching the skill level of an experienced

worker, the local trainees produced only about half as

As Lewin explained, every individual has a base for his much as apprentices doing similar tasks in northern'

life m a "life-space" -- and one of its most important plants.((>4)

components is the group to which he belongs. Each Lewin got to work and within a few days the workers'

individual knows, at each stage, to which group he productivity was increased substantially. How? Through

belongs at that moment and to which he does not. This education, increased wages allowing increased conknowledge

of his proper place and allegiance determines sumption, or modern technology? No. Lewin's mode was

his behavior.[63] co-participation what he called "group decision-

This group allegiance idea is the kingpin of just about making" and "self-management."

all counterinsurgency be it co-participation and

community control or brainwashing. Lewin, no doubt This link is provided by decisions. A process'like

decision-making, which takes only a few minutes, is able

with help from Tavistock friends, was the primary to affect conduct for many months to come. The decision

theoretician behind most of the present-day schemes seems to have a "freezing" effect which is partly due to

' which plague the ghetto and the working class, the individual's tendency to "stick to his decision" and

Lewin took his group allegiance theory and first put it partly to the "commitment to a group."(65)

to practical work in 1939. His first targets were workers Lewin had "convinced" the Harwood management to

in industry; in fact a specific industry in a rural corn- plan and put into effect a series of small-group studies on

munity in Virginia, the Harwood Manufacturing "the human factor" in factory management. Alex

Corporation, became the experimental grounds for Bavelas, than at the University of Iowa, was hired to

implement this task under Lewin's supervision.

Bavelas used small informal group meetings of highproducing

operators to begin his speedup campaign.

Everyone was encouraged to discuss the difficulties he or

she would encounter if the group wanted to increase its



The group then asked to vote on the issue of increasing

its own daily output. Each worker would decide for

himself or herself, but decide in the reinforcing context

of the group setting. For example, the group decided to

lift output from the prevailing high ceiling of 75 units to

87 units, a level never before attained. It decided to

reach the goal within five days and did so. Later, the

group raised its goal to 90 units, reached it, and later

: maintained it for five months, during which time other

groups in the plant showed no significant increase.

, Kurt Lewin Lewin, extremely excited by the effectiveness of his

speedup tactics, began planning a new program of

leadership training in which all levels of supervisory

management would participate. Role-playing,


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