Mayo Elton(1880-1949) a prominent figure within the HUMAN RELATIONS SCHOOL, who was associated with and wrote about the HAWTHORNE EFFECT. The interpretations he made of the Hawthorne experiments made him an influential figure within the human relations tradition. Echoing DURKHEIM, he felt that scientific and technical developments had outstripped the social skills and social arrangements of man, one consequence of which was widespread ANOMIE. This was evident, for example, in the spontaneous organization of informal groupings within industry, as revealed by the Hawthorne research. Mayo consequently advocated the development of social skills for managers who would provide for, communicate with and sensitively lead small work groups in industry, since these would provide social anchorage and meaning for otherwise anomic workers. In this way hope was held out for the ability of industry to provide for a satisfying and cooperative venture in an otherwise debilitating and individualistic society.
His ideas have, to varying and debated degrees, influenced both managerial practice and ideology and subsequent social and psychological research in industry (Mayo, 1949; Bendix, 1974; Rose, 1988).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000