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# QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co

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QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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03 Dec 2017, 23:03
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55% (01:15) correct 45% (01:16) wrong based on 518 sessions

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In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance.

(A) that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance

(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

(C) for investigating what are the effects in workers’ performance that changes in working conditions would cause

(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance

(E) to investigate what the effects changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

Scientific American Resource Library: Readings in Psychology, Volume 2

The name comes from the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne Works in Chicago. In the 1920's the plant was the scene of an intensive series of experiments designed to determine what effect various changes in working conditions would have on the performance of female workers.

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QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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16 Dec 2017, 16:44
3
2
This thing is painful. Good luck to us.

Quote:
(A) that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance

The word “that” always jumps out at me (more on the GMAT’s uses of “that” in this article), but I don’t think it’s doing anything wrong here: “that would investigate changes…” just modifies the “series of experiments.” No worries there.

There are plenty of other issues with (A), though. For starters, “their” isn’t quite as clear as I’d like it to be: “their” could refer to “changes in working conditions” or just “working conditions” or maybe even “experiments”. Pronoun ambiguity isn’t an absolute rule on the GMAT, and I don't think that “their” is WRONG here. But we can probably do better.

A clearer reason why (A) is wrong is the conditional verb “would investigate.” The series of experiments actually investigated those changes, so the conditional doesn’t make sense here.

Finally, I don’t think that the phrase “investigated changes… as to their effects on workers’ performance” is very direct. Why wouldn’t we just say that the experiments “investigated the effects of changes…” instead of doing this wordy, weird thing that suggests that the experiments investigated the changes themselves?

So we have plenty of pretty good reasons to eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

(B) cleans up most of the issues that we had with (A). We don’t have any pronoun problems now, and the meaning is much clearer in general: now the experiments investigate “the effects” of changes – and that makes much more sense than investigating the changes themselves, as (A) suggested.

I’m also OK with the use of the “-ing” adjective, “investigating”, as a modifier for the “series of experiments.” (More on the GMAT’s various uses of “-ing” words in this article.)

You might also be wondering about the use of the conditional in (B). I had a problem with it in (A), because it’s a fact that the experiments actually investigated the effects of changes in working conditions; the conditional, as placed in (A), made no sense. But in (B)? The use of the conditional is in a different spot, and now it's fine: the experiments investigated the potential effects of changes in working conditions, so the phrase “effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance” is completely appropriate. Even if it sounds funny.

So let’s keep (B).

Quote:
(C) for investigating what are the effects in workers’ performance that changes in working conditions would cause

(C) is a hot mess, and it feels like the GMAT is just clowning us with this one. It’s so messy that it’s hard to even explain why it’s such a s#!t-show. Here’s a list of objections:

1. It’s awfully awkward to say “series of experiments for investigating.” No, the series of experiments actually investigated something, so “series of experiments that investigated” or “series of experiments investigating” are both fine, but “for investigating” wouldn’t work.

2. There’s no reason to include the words “what are” in this sentence; “investigating the effects” would be enough...

3. … Except that “effects in workers’ performance” makes no sense at all. I can’t even figure out what that phrase literally means.

4. “effects… that changes… would cause” is arguably redundant. If we’re already calling something an “effect”, then it’s hard to argue that we really need to restate the word “cause.”

I can’t believe I spent this much time thinking about (C). I’m mad at myself now. Moving on…

Quote:
(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance

This is the answer choice that most of my students seem to fall in love with! (And you probably already know that you shouldn’t fall in love on GMAT verbal questions.) The problem here isn’t grammatical, though: it’s just that the meaning gets a little bit warped.

Let’s think about the intended meaning of the sentence: the experiments investigated the effects of “changes in working conditions”, right? The company changed working conditions, and then examined how those changes affected worker performance.

But (D) is saying something slightly different: the experiments “investigated changes in working conditions’ effects.” That’s wrong! We’re not interested in changes in the effects on workers’ performance -- the working conditions change, not the effects themselves.

Tricky, huh? So (D) is out.

Let’s line our last two options up side-by-side, to make it a little bit easier to see why (E) is wrong:
Quote:
(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance
(E) to investigate what the effects changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

These two aren’t terribly different from each other. For starters, I think it’s a little bit clearer to just use the “-ing” adjective “investigating” to modify the “series of experiments” – there’s no reason to say “to investigate” in this case. I wouldn’t eliminate (E) based SOLELY on that issue, but it’s a small strike against (E).

The other problem with (E) is the phrase “what the effects changes…” At the very least, that’s awkward AF. You could also argue that the word “what” is just a waste of space: the experiments investigated “the effects”, so why stick “what” in there? It just doesn’t make any sense.

So (B) is the best we can do.
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##### General Discussion
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Re: QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2017, 01:33
souvik101990 wrote:
In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance.

(A) that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance

(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

(C) for investigating what are the effects in workers’ performance that changes in working conditions would cause

(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance

(E) to investigate what the effects changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

B IS THE ANSWER, as it has would which clearly reflects the future in the past and investigating clearly modifies experiments
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Re: QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2017, 05:36
2
souvik101990 wrote:
In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance.

(A) that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance

(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

(C) for investigating what are the effects in workers’ performance that changes in working conditions would cause

(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance

(E) to investigate what the effects changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance

B and D are close. However, the subtlety lies in the interchange of words in these options.
The idea of the sentence is to show that the experiments were carried out to investigate the effects that changes (of xyz) would have.
D goes wrong in presenting the idea of investigating changes
.

--B--
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Re: QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2017, 06:16
2
1
In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance.

(A) that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance
“their” in "investigate changes ... as to their effects" is unclear

(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance -- Correct

(C) for investigating what are the effects in workers’ performance that changes in working conditions would cause
the sequence of events is illogical

(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance
The intended meaning involves “effects of the changes”, but this choice seems to indicate that the conditions themselves haven't changed - only their “effects” have.

(E) to investigate what the effects changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance
"to investigate X" is concise and clear as compared to "to investigate what X is"
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Re: QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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11 Dec 2017, 21:43
In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company was the scene of an intensive series of experiments that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance.

(A) that would investigate changes in working conditions as to their effects on workers’ performance - is vague because it's overly indirect: the meaning of "investigate changes ... as to their effects" is unclear. what's more, it's probably considered unidiomatic as well, at least in this sort of context.

(B) investigating the effects that changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance -- Correct
the participle "investigating" follows "experiments" immediately. no filler words are necessary; this is good concision.
the wording is clear; there are no awkward double possessives, etc., as in some of the other choices.
"would" is used properly here, as a past-tense form of "will". (i.e., if this sentence were translated into the present tense, it would read "...that changes ... will have")

(C) for investigating what are the effects in workers’ performance that changes in working conditions would cause - The Hawthorne Works WAS the scene...for investigating...what the effects...ARE.
Here, the sequence of events is illogical:
It is not possible that the Hawthorne Works WAS the scene (in the past) for investigating what the effects ARE (in the present).

(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance - "changes in working conditions' effects" is at best awkward and vague, and at worst ambiguous: the intended meaning is the effects of the changes, but this sentence seems to indicated the effects of the conditions themselves. in other words, a literal reading of this sentence seems to indicate that the conditions themselves haven't changed - only their effects have. that's not the intended meaning of the original.

(E) to investigate what the effects changes in working conditions would have on workers’ performance - "what the effects" is ungrammatical.
also, in constructions of this sort, "what" is generally redundant / unnecessary; it's better merely to say "to investigate X" rather than to say "to investigate what X is" (or other such wordy construction).

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Re: QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co  [#permalink]

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23 Apr 2018, 20:00
(D) that investigated changes in working conditions’ effects on workers’ performance

is wrong because it is investigating changes rather than investigating effects
Re: QOTD: In the mid-1920’s the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co &nbs [#permalink] 23 Apr 2018, 20:00
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