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International Honor Society in Social Sciences
The mission of Pi Gamma Mu is to encourage and promote excellence in the social sciences and to uphold the ideals of scholarship and service.


Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Dr. Friedman
Dr. Barry D. Friedman
International President

Building on the work of such scientific-management and administrative-management pioneers as Frederick W. Taylor, Henri Fayol, and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, between 1927 and 1932 G. Elton Mayo and his associates conducted experiments at the Hawthorne Works, a Western Electric factory in Cicero, Ill., a Chicago suburb.  (Current students are not likely to be familiar with the Western Electric Company.  Western Electric was the AT&T subsidiary that manufactured the indestructible black dial telephones that the students' grandparents and I had in our homes.)  The experiments were conducted to explore possible factors that might improve workers' productivity.  The most well-known version involved manipulation of the level of illumination in a room in which six women assembled telephone relays.  When the researchers increased the level of illumination, productivity went up.  The researchers increased the level of illumination again, and productivity went up again.  Another increase, and there was even more productivity.  Then, the researchers decided to confirm their discovery about the relationship between illumination and productivity by decreasing the level of illumination.  They did so, and productivity went up again!  Once more, they lowered the level of illumination, and productivity increased yet again.

Many management and operations theorists have scrutinized the famous "Hawthorne effect" to understand its significance.  Obviously, the illumination had no particular effect on productivity.  The primary discovery is that the workers, who had finally emerged from their long experience with anonymity and others' indifference toward their work, were elated to finally be the center of somebody's attention.  The sensation of being significant, once and for all, motivated them to become more productive.

In my column in the January edition of this newsletter, I mentioned the degradation that guests of The Jerry Springer Show endure, as embarrassing aspects of their lives are put on public display.  Other television shows, if not identical to Springer, similarly air their guests' dirty laundry.  I can't imagine that anyone particularly wants to hear Maury Povich say to him, on the stage of a nationally syndicated television show, "You are the father!"  Why would anyone agree to be subjected to this humiliation?  It turns out that these people are flown to the city in which the studio is located, transported in limousines, and treated to luxury hotel accommodations.  Then, they obtain what Andy Warhol referred to as their "15 minutes of fame."  Finally, they are not anonymous.  The whole country knows who they are, at least for a few minutes.  Finally, somebody is interested in them.  No doubt, it is an immeasurable relief for them.

Recognition happens to be Pi Gamma Mu's raison d'être.  It may not occur to many that, with amazing frequency, honor students in colleges and universities across the United States and, I assume, the rest of the world put their hearts and souls into their schoolwork, learn what the faculty believes that they should know about various subjects, and compile enviable academic records‑‑and, then, they receive no recognition at all.  At a college at which I taught many years ago, I had the privilege of presenting an award sponsored by an honor-society chapter to the student who had recently graduated with the highest grade-point average.  The honoree, whose GPA was 4.0, was already enrolled in medical school and could not attend the Honors Day assembly, but her parents came to accept the award.  Afterwards, they and I chatted.  They told me that their daughter had been perplexed by the fact that, although she completed her B.S. degree with a 4.0 GPA, nobody had mentioned it at all until the honor-society chapter that I represented presented the award.  Honestly, this sort of thing happens all the time.  Pi Gamma Mu's motivation is to give credit where credit is due.  Once a Pi Gamma Mu chapter is chartered, the chapter's officers and sponsor go about the task of recognizing honor students whose accomplishments might otherwise go unrecognized.  I have been involved as an honor-society officer for most of the past 38 years, because I believe so much in the need to recognize scholarship and I believe that, if scholarly achievement goes unrecognized, we might obtain less of it.  So it is with our many Pi Gamma Mu volunteers, without whom so many honor students in the social-science disciplines would wonder why nobody seemed to have noticed their conscientious, praiseworthy efforts.  I reflect on the dedication of these chapter officers and sponsors and how their dedication, too, may often go unrecognized.  I suspect that they rarely get much in the way of expressions of gratitude for their commitment to their students.  I take this occasion to thank them for their selfless volunteer service to Pi Gamma Mu.

I have always been moved by a poem that my father likes to recite.  The title of the poem is "Do It Now."  Berton Braley (1882‑1966), a talented and prolific American poet, is the author.  Here is the poem that means a lot to my family.

Do It Now

By Berton Braley

If with pleasure you are viewing any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him, tell him now.     
Don't withhold your approbation till the parson makes oration     
And he lies with snowy lilies on his brow.     
No matter how you shout it, he won't really care about it;     
He won't know how many teardrops you have shed.     
If you think some praise is due him, now's the time to slip it to him,     
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.

More than fame and more than money is the comment kind and sunny,     
And the hearty, warm approval of a friend.     
For it gives to life a savor, and it makes you stronger, braver,     
And it gives you heart and spirit to the end.     
If he earns your praise, bestow it.  If you like him, let him know it.     
Let the words of true encouragement be said.     
Do not wait till life is over and he's underneath the clover,     
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.

If someone in your life has done something worthy of recognition, please don't forget to give her a pat on the back.  She might have the feeling that nobody notices and nobody cares.  If she has earned your praise, bestow it.  Please do it now.

Barry D. Friedman
International President


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Mailing address: Pi Gamma Mu, 1001 Millington St., Suite B, Winfield, KS 67156.





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