The authors of the pop-culture books FREAKONOMICS and SUPERFREAKONOMICS (Steven D. Levitt and John A. List) state that “remarkable patterns” found in the data of the Hawthorne Experiment were proved to be “entirely fictional”. From the paper’s abstract:
The “Hawthorne effect,” a concept familiar to all students of social science, has had a profound influence both on the direction and design of research over the past 75 years. The Hawthorne effect is named after a landmark set of studies conducted at the Hawthorne plant in the 1920s. The first and most influential of these studies is known as the “Illumination Experiment.” Both academics and popular writers commonly summarize the results as showing that every change in light, even those that made the room dimmer, had the effect of increasing productivity. The data from the illumination experiments, however, were never formally analyzed and were thought to have been destroyed. Our research has uncovered these data. We find that existing descriptions of supposedly remarkable data patterns prove to be entirely fictional. There are, however, hints of more subtle manifestations of a Hawthorne effect in the original data.
The “Hawthorne Effect ” was coined and based on observations at the GE Hawthorne plant in Cicero during the 1920s. The observations of this research led to a move away from mechanistic management of employees and towards a Human-Relations approach, which rippled across the social sciences.
If you are eligible to get the paper (University, Government, etc.), you can find it here at the National Bureau of Economic Research [pdf]. Additional scholarly research can be found by searching Google Scholar. Via Metafilter.