The More You Watch, the Less They Produce
In his 2012 paper The Transparency Paradox: A Role for Privacy in Organizational Learning and Operational Control, Ethan Berstein looked at factory operations in a Chinese cell phone plant and discovered something very interesting, something he calls a “transparency paradox”. In that plant, most line workers were observed by lead hands and supervisors in the conventional way. Some lines however, were isolated and separated from routine observation by plant management. His empirical research showed that the workers who are not routinely observed perform better than those that were, the opposite of what we expect in conventional operations. More supervision, less productivity. Why?