Elton Mayo

by Willie Lucas

Elton Mayo was born in Australia in 1880. He was not introduced to sociology until 1926 when Lawrence J. Henderson introduced him to Parieto's theory. (Rose, 1975, p 115) At that time Mayo was already 46 years old. He applied the theories of sociology that he learned to other Management studies that were being done at the time. He would put together and apply existing Sociological theories and apply them to research that he was familiar with. He would not always conduct the research himself but he would use the research that other people did and go off of that. He would then put down his conclusions into a book.

He was able to do this so successfully because Mayo was a excellent publicist of the studies, and his advocacy of the concepts of social man and social needs were so strongly associated with the studies. (Rose, 1988, p 220). The amazing thing about Mayo being able to adapt the Sociological theories to the studies was that he was only introduced to them in 1926 and he wrote his first book in 1933 called The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization. He wrote the book after the Hawthorn studies were complete and he found that it was the social problems that was the problem with the way things were going in industries not all of the other factors that the Hawthorn studies was trying to prove. He then wrote another book in 1945 called The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization and he wrote his third book in 1947 called The Political Problems of an Industrial Civilization. In this book he pointed out the political problems that arise from a industrial civilization. Some of these problems could be corrupt officials and the regulations that industry has to comply with but never does.

The role that Mayo had in the development of management is usually associated with his discovery of social man and the need for this in the work place. Mayo found that workers acted according to sentiments and emotion. He felt that if you treated the worker with respect and tried to meet their needs than they would be a better worker for you and both management and the employee would benefit. This is pointed out in his books that he wrote.

Mayo's work contributed to management theory through research conducted at Western Electric's Hawthorn Works which took place from 1927 - 1932. Mayo was also able to provide concrete evidence to support Follet's theory that the lack of attention to human relationships was a major flaw in other management theories. (Rieger, 1995, p 1) He was able to prove that employees did react better when they had good relationships with the management that they worked with. If management would treat the employees with respect and give them the attention at the work place that they needed, then the workers would be more willing to work harder for the employer. The was not totally what the Hawthorn study was looking at for they were focusing on working conditions such as lighting that the workers worked in and other factors that could easily be changed with out management having to do much. The real solution was to have management get more involved with the workers.

Mayo could not have foreseen the social and personal awards the workers experienced as a result of management consideration, group affiliation, and special recognition. (Rieger, 1995, p 2) They did not see how much the increase of productivity would be do to the fact of human factors and not do to environmental factors. This help show that there was a stronger connection to the way that employees reacted to the way that their employer and management would deal with them and the problems that they had. A simple thing such as giving a employee a little reward for outstanding performance for a month or a year could help motivate other employees to want to do better so that they could have the chance to be recognized for their outstanding work. When they allowed the employees to work with groups or be affiliated with groups at work, they are able to make a difference. Even a small difference still made it so that the employees would be more productive because they knew that they were helping out others and that they would have the chance to be recognized in front of their fellow workers for the work that they have done.

With all that Elton Mayo has done with his theories of management and how to motivate employees to be more productive it is not a surprise that Human Relations is usually considered the brainchild of Elton Mayo. (Dingley, 1997, p 1)

Works Cited

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