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George Elton Mayo

ton 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.

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. Mayo's employees, Roethlisberger and Dickson, conducted the practical experiments. 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 conditions 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. Mayo's simple instructions to industrial interviewers set a template and remain influential to this day i.e. A. The simple rules of interviewing:- 1. Give your full attention to the person interviewed, and make it evident that you are doing so. 2. Listen - don't talk. 3. Never argue; never give advice. 4. Listen to: what he wants to say; what he does not want to say; what he can not say without help. 5. As you listen, plot out tentatively and for subsequent correction the pattern that is being set before you. To test, summarize what has been said and present for comment. Always do this with caution that is, clarify but don't add or twist. [SOURCE: papers held by Mayo's grand-daughter.

Criticism regarding his employees' procedure while conducting the studies: * The members of the groups whose behaviour 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 Elton 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 behaviour 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 organisation rather than work against it. Criticisms about Elton Mayo Mayo's contributions to management thought have come increasingly underfire. Especially in matters of government. James Hoopes in 2003 wrote "Mayo wrote up his idea of substituting therapy for democracy in a paper, 'A New Way of Statecraft."

Hawthorne
The Hawthorne plant of Western Electric was located in Chicago. It had some 29,000 employees and manufactured telephones and telephone equipment, principally for AT & T. The company had a reputation for advanced personnel policies and had welcomed a research study by the National Research Council into the relationship between work-place lighting and individual efficiency.

The Experiments
The study began in 1924 by isolating two groups of workers in order to experiment with the impact of various incentives on their productivity. Improvements to levels of lighting produced increases in productivity, but so too did reversion to standard lighting and even below-standard lighting in both groups. The initial assumption therefore was that increased output stemmed from variation alone. Other incentives - including payment incentives and rest pauses - were manipulated at regular intervals, and although output levels varied, the trend was inexorably upwards. Whatever experimentation was applied, output went up. Although it had been fairly conclusively determined that lighting had little or nothing to do with output levels, the Assistant Works Manager (George Pennock) agreed that something peculiar was going on and that experimentation should continue.

Early deductions - Supervision and Employee attitudes


In the winter of 1927, Pennock invited Clair Turner, Professor of Biology and Public Health at MIT, to consult. Turner quickly resolved that rest pauses in themselves were not the cause for increased output, although it was observed that longer rest pauses gave rise to more social interaction, which in turn impacted on mental attitudes. Turner attributed the rise in output to: the small group; the type of supervision; earnings; the novelty of the experiment, and the increased attention to the experimentees generated by the experiment itself. Pennock had been among the first to note that supervisory style was important. The supervisor involved in the illumination experiment had been relaxed and friendly; he got to know the operators well and was not too worried about company policies and procedures. Discipline was secured through enlightened leadership and understanding, and an esprit de corps grew up within the group. This was in stark contrast to standard practice before the experiment.

When Pennock invited Turner to participate, he also invited Mayo (although it is unknown whether this was as a result of Mayo's achievements at the Philadelphian Spinning Mill, or because of a desire to involve Harvard). Visits in 1929 and 1930 indicated to Mayo 'a remarkable change of attitude in the group'. Mayo's view was that the Test Room Workers had turned into a social unit, enjoyed all the attention they were getting, and had developed a sense of participation in the project. In order to understand this further Mayo instituted a series of interviews. These provided the workers with an opportunity to express their views and let off steam. It emerged that they would feel better for discussing a situation even if it did not change. Further exploration into worker complaints revealed that some had little or no basis in fact but were actually symptoms or indicators of personal situations causing distress. By focusing on a more open, conversational, listening and caring interview approach, Mayo had struck a key which linked the style of supervision and the level of morale to levels of productivity.

Further research - Social Groups


A third stage in the Research programme took place in the Bank Wiring Room with a similar application of incentives to productivity. Here it emerged that:

output was restricted - the group had a standard for output which was respected by individuals in the group; the group was indifferent to the employer's financial incentive scheme; the group developed a code of behaviour of its own based on solidarity in opposition to the management, and output was determined by informal social groups rather than by management.

Mayo had read the work of FW Taylor who had already established that social groups were capable of exercising very strong control over the work behaviour of individual members (Taylor had called it 'systematic soldiering'). The interesting evelopment which Mayo noted, however, was that whereas in the first set of experiments productivity went up as the experiments progressed, in the other - the Bank Wiring Room - productivity was restricted. In The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilisation, Mayo wrote: 'Human collaboration in work, in primitive and developed societies, has always depended for its perpetuation upon the evolution of a non-logical social code which regulates the relations between persons and their attitudes to one another. Insistence upon a merely economic logic of production...interferes with the development of such a code and consequently gives rise in the group to a sense of human defeat. This... results in the formation of a social code at a lower level and in opposition to the economic logic. One of its symptoms is 'restriction'.' The question which needed to be asked, therefore, was 'What was different between the two groups?' . The answer was found to lie with the attitude of the observer - where the observer encouraged participation and took the workers into his confidence, productivity went up; where the observer merely watched and adopted the trappings of traditional supervisory practice, output was restricted. Interpreting Hawthorne For industry to benefit from the experiments at Hawthorne, Mayo first concluded that supervisors needed training in understanding the personal problems of workers, and also in listening and interviewing techniques. He held that the new supervisor should be less aloof, more people-oriented, more concerned, and skilled in handling personal and social situations.

It was only later, after a period of reflection, that Mayo was able to conclude that:

job satisfaction increased as workers were given more freedom to determine the conditions of their working environment and to set their own standards of output; intensified interaction and cooperation created a high level of group cohesion; job satisfaction and output depended more on cooperation and a feeling of worth than on physical working conditions.

In Mayo's view, workers had been unable to find satisfactory outlets for expressing personal problems and dissatisfactions in their work life. The problem, as Mayo perceived it, was that managers thought the answers to industrial problems resided in technical efficiency, when actually the answer was a human and social one. Mayo's contribution lies in recognising from the Hawthorne experiments that the formality of strict rules and procedures spawns informal approaches and groups with their base in human emotions, sentiments, problems and interactions. The manager, therefore, should strive for an equilibrium between the technical organisation and the human one and hence should develop skills in handling human relations and situations. These include diagnostic skills in understanding human behaviour and interpersonal skills in counselling, motivating, leading and communicating.

In perspective
Mayo has been acclaimed by his followers as the Founder of the Human Relations school of management, and he has been criticised by sociologists for not going far enough in his interpretations. Reading Mayo's conclusions and interpretations cause no surprise - let alone discovery - in the 1990s; his findings are increasingly commonplace among social scientists, trade unionists and managers alike. Perhaps that is a measure of his achievement, because most critics and commentators agree that he was the first, not necessarily to state the case, but to demonstrate, infer and provide evidence from it to shift management thinking in a direction other than the widespread and entrenched dominance of Taylor's scientific management. Hawthorne - thanks to both Mayo and one of his major colleagues and collaborators (F J Roethlisberger) was widely reported and discussed. Roethlisberger said of Mayo that the data were not his, the results not his, but the interpretations were Mayo's. Without those interpretations, the results of Hawthorne would still be collecting dust in the archives. The experiment also gave rise to the term - 'Hawthorne effect' - a situation which arose because people were 'singled' out for special treatment, or a 'special situation' was created where workers could feel free to air their problems. Mayo's conclusions influenced others who came in turn to be regarded as gurus: his ideas on the emergence of 'informal' organisations were read by Argyris and others as they developed theories about how organisations learned and developed the discrediting of the 'rabble hypothesis' theory - based on the assumption that individuals only pursue self-interest - led directly to the work of McGregor (Theory X and Theory Y) with its wider implications for leadership and organisation.The conclusions drawn by Mayo from the Hawthorne studies established the beginnings of the importance of management style as a major contributor to industrial productivity, of interpersonal skills as being as important as monetary incentives or target-setting, and of a more humanistic approach as a means of satisfying the organisation's economic needs and human social skills.