Elton Mayo

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Mayo, Elton


Born Dec. 26, 1880, in Adelaide, South Australia; died Sept. 7, 1949, in Polsden Lacy, Surrey, Great Britain. American sociologist; professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. One of the founders of American industrial sociology and the originator of the doctrine of human relations.

In Mayo’s conception of industrial relations, the personal and emotional relations of individuals to one another are substituted for objective socioeconomic relations. Mayo denied the existence of a contradiction of class interests between entrepreneurs and hired labor; instead, he focused his attention on breakdowns in communication and in mutual understanding among individual members of both groups. He considered improvement in worker-management relations to be the means of dissolving conflicts between labor and capital.

Beginning in the 1920’s, Mayo and a group of associates were commissioned by several corporations to develop a system of measures designed to improve the social atmosphere in enterprises and to ease the conflicts between superiors and subordinates at different levels of the corporate hierarchy. Mayo was one of the originators of the idea that workers can be more effectively stimulated by noneconomic factors (signs of respect from management or high prestige among fellow workers) than by the size of their salaries or the prospect of salary increase. Based on this idea, he proposed a number of specific methods for raising labor productivity. According to Mayo, sociology should offer practical help for the establishment of harmony in industry. Mayo’s theories sought to subordinate the consciousness of the workers to existing bourgeois relations.


The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization. Boston, 1945.
The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization. Boston, 1933.
The Political Problem of Industrial Civilization. Boston, 1947.


Gvishiani, D. M. Organizatsiia i upravlenie: Sotsiologicheskii analiz burzhuaznykh teorii. Moscow, 1970.
Novikov, N. V. “Problemy organizatsii i upravleniia ν sotsiologii.” Mirovaia ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 1972, no. 3.


References in periodicals archive ?
In the 1990s, we tended to ignore the views of the Harvard professor Elton Mayo who proposed that managers should become more 'people oriented and that participation in social groups and 'group pressure' as opposed to organisational structure or demands from management would improve productivity.
The psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, the management thinkers Mary Parker Follett, Elton Mayo, and Douglas McGregor come to mind, and in our day a number of academics from Chris Argyris and Gary Hamel to Marco Minghetti.
Elton Mayo and the Hawthorne Works experiments: the discovery that because of management attention, workers were motivated to perform well even when working conditions were deliberately made worse; the discovery of how the group influenced individual behaviour during the "bank wiring room" experiments.
Management thinkers like Kurt Lewin and Elton Mayo started to identify the crucial importance of paying attention to people's motivations at work.
After historical discussion of some of the predecessors of the field, including Elton Mayo, Chester Barnard, Kurt Lewin, Mary Parker Follett, Max Weber, and Frederick Taylor, Miner explores the early emergence of the field and its relationship to such influencing factors as the recruiting of social scientists into the business schools, the contributions of psychiatry, the prevailing climate of economic uncertainty at the time, and an intellectual environment encouraging interdisciplinary contributions.
In this chapter, he reviews assorted approaches to understanding organizations, drawing on writers such as Frederick Taylor, Max Weber, Elton Mayo and Charles Perrow.
Managers like Frederick Taylor, who came from a wealthy family, and Elton Mayo, a significant figure in General Electric, were troubled by the discrepancy between the emotional standards they were used to in their homes and those they found in the work place, so they made efforts to introduce the domestic Victorian emotionology into the factory.
The focus on a worker's individuality is not a new concept, since the Hawthorne experiments by Elton Mayo in the 1920s opened the door to this venue in organizational studies.
His work can be seen--in common with that of Elton Mayo (known for the Hawthorne Experiments), of Abraham Maslow (developer of the hierarchy of needs) and of Douglas McGregor (creator of Theory X and Theory Y)--as a reaction to F W Taylor's Scientific Management theories.
From 1924 to 1927, anthropologist George Elton Mayo studied American workers and found that access to training improves morale and productivity.
Part C contains a series of two-page synopses of the work of highly esteemed management theorists including IT economist Paul Strassmann and worker productivity specialist Elton Mayo.
The term was originally used by Chicago researcher Elton Mayo with reference to studies on worker productivity that he performed in the 1920s.