Elton Mayo

George Elton Mayo (26 December 1880 - 7 September 1949) was an Australian psychologist, sociologist and organization theorist.

He lectured at the University of Queensland from 1919 to 1923 before moving to the University of Pennsylvania, but spent most of his career at Harvard Business School (1926 - 1947), where he was professor of industrial research. On 18 April 1913 he married Dorothea McConnel in Brisbane. They had two daughters.

Mayo is known as the founder of the Human Relations Movement, and is known for his research including the Hawthorne Studies, and his book The Human Problems of an Industrialized Civilization (1933). The research he conducted under the Hawthorne Studies of the 1930s showed the importance of groups in affecting the behavior of individuals at work. However it was not Mayo who conducted the practical experiments but his employees Roethlisberger and Dickinson. This enabled him to make certain deductions about how managers should behave. He carried out a number of investigations to look at ways of improving productivity, for example changing lighting conditions in the workplace. What he found however was that work satisfaction depended to a large extent on the informal social pattern of the work group. Where norms of cooperation and higher output were established because of a feeling of importance. Physical conditions or financial incentives had little motivational value. People will form work groups and this can be used by management to benefit the organization. He concluded that people's work performance is dependent on both social issues and job content. He suggested a tension between workers' 'logic of sentiment' and managers' 'logic of cost and efficiency' which could lead to conflict within organizations.

Disagreement regarding his employees' procedure while conducting the studies:
• The members of the groups whose behavior has been studied were allowed to choose themselves.
• Two women have been replaced since they were chatting during their work. They were later identified as members of a leftist movement.
• One Italian member was working above average since she had to care for her family alone. Thus she affected the group's performance in an above average way.
Summary of Mayo's Beliefs:
• Individual workers cannot be treated in isolation, but must be seen as members of a group.
• Monetary incentives and good working condition are less important to the individual than the need to belong to a group.
• Informal or unofficial groups formed at work have a strong influence on the behavior of those workers in a group.
• Managers must be aware of these 'social needs' and cater for them to ensure that employees collaborate with the official organization rather than work against it.

Criticism of Mayo:
Mayo's contributions to management thought have come increasingly under fire. The celebrated sociologist Daniel Bell criticized Mayo and other industrial sociologists for "adjusting men to machines," rather than with enlarging human capacity or freedom. James Hoopes criticized Mayo in 2003 for "substituting therapy for democracy."


Source : wikipedia

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