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Elton Mayo 1880 – 1949

George Elton Mayo
(26 December 1880 - 7 September 1949) was an Australian psychologist,
psychologist, sociologist
and organization theorist.
One of the most celebrated social scientists of the age
Internationally acclaimed
Experiments provided new scientific foundations for management
Skilled and charming lecturer

Statement by Fortune Magazine

Scientist and practical clinician, Mayo speaks with a rare authority that has
commanded attention in factories as well as Universities. His erudition extends
through psychology, sociology, physiology, medicine and economics, and his
experience comes from a lifelong first –hand study of industry.

Early Life
He lectured at the University of Queensland from 1911 to 1923
Then Moved 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, Australia.
Australia. They had two daughters, Patricia and Gael.

Mayo is known as the founder of the Human Relations Movement
He is known for his research including the Hawthorne Studies and
His book The Human Problems of an Industrialized Civilization (1933).

Elton Mayo’s Beliefs

Summary of Mayo's Beliefs:

Individual workers cannot be treated in isolation, but must be seen as members of a

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

Hawthorne Studies
Elton Mayo’s Study on Employee Motivation and Work Productivity

Introduction of Hawthorne Studies
Experiment that Mayo conducted
Nuts and Bolts: Explanation of topic
How it works in the field

Introduction of Hawthorne Studies

“The Hawthorne Studies were conducted from 1927-1932 at the Western Electric
Hawthorne Works in Chicago, where Harvard Business School Professor Elton Mayo
examined productivity and work conditions.”
“Mayo wanted to find out what effect fatigue and monotony had on job productivity and
how to control them through such variables as rest breaks, work hours, temperatures
and humidity.”

Variables Affecting Productivity

Specifically, Elton Mayo wanted to find out what effect fatigue and monotony had on job
productivity and how to control them through such variables such as
Rest break
Work hours
Lighting etc.

Selection of Women
Elton Mayo selected two women.
Had those two select an additional four from the assembly line.
Segregated them from the rest of the factory.
Put them under the eye of a supervisor who was more a friendly observer than
Mayo made frequent changes in their working conditions, always discussing and
explaining the changes in advance.
Relay Assembly
The group was employed in assembling telephone relays - a relay being a small but
intricate mechanism composed of about forty separate parts which had to be
assembled by the girls seated at a lone bench and dropped into a chute when
The relays were mechanically counted as they slipped down the chute.
The intent was to measure the basic rate of production before making any environmental
Then, as changes were introduced, the impact to effectiveness would be measured by
increased or decreased production of the relays.

Feedback Mechanism
Throughout the series of experiments, an observer sat with the girls in the workshop
noting all that went on, keeping the girls informed about the experiment, asking for
advice or information, and listening to their complaints.
The experiment began by introducing various changes, each of which was continued for a
test period of four to twelve weeks.

Changes And The Results Observed

Change 1: They were then put on piece of work for 8 week.
Observation : Output increased

Change 2 : They were given two 5 mins breaks, One in the morning and Other in
afternoon, for a period of 5 weeks.
Observation : Output increased, yet again

Change 3 : The breaks were each lengthened to 10 mins

Observation : Output rose sharply

Change 4 : six 5 mins breaks were introduced

Observation : The girls complained that their work rhythm was broken by the frequent
pauses & the Output fell only slightly.

Change 5: The original two breaks were reinstated, this time, with a complimentary HOT
MEAL provided during the morning break.
Observation: Output increased still further.

Change 6: The workday was shortened to end at 4.30pm instead of 5.00pm.

Observation: Output Increased.

Change 7: The workday was shortened to end at 4.00pm.

Observation: Output leveled off

Change 8: Finally, All the improvements were taken away, the original conditions before
the experiments were reinstated. They were monitored in this state for 12 more weeks.
Observation: Output was the highest ever recorded averaging 3000 relays a week.
Elton Mayo's Conclusions on Job Performance
Elton Mayo came to the following conclusions as a result of the study:
Aptitudes of individuals are imperfect predictors of job performance. Although they
give some indication of the physical and mental potential of the individual, the amount
produced is strongly influenced by social factors.
Informal organization affects productivity. The researchers discovered a group life
among the workers. The studies also showed that the relations that supervisors
develop with workers tend to influence the manner in which the workers carry out
Work-group norms affect productivity. The Hawthorne researchers were not the first
to recognize that work groups tend to arrive at norms of what is "a fair day's work."
However, they provided the best systematic description and interpretation of this
The workplace is a social system. The researchers came to view the workplace as a
social system made up of interdependent parts. The worker is a person whose attitudes
and effectiveness are conditioned by social demands from both inside and outside the
work plant. Informal group within the work plant exercise strong social controls over
the work habits and attitudes of the individual worker.

The need for recognition, security and sense of belonging is more important in
determining workers' morale and productivity than the physical conditions under
which he works.

How this can be used in organizations

Cooperation and communication with coworkers.

Rearrange/reorganize job functions.

Create an atmosphere of working as a team.


Hawthorne Studies dealing with worker motivation and work productivity.

Increase communication and cooperation among coworkers.
Motivation can cause an increase in productivity
Involve employees in decision making.
Create a sense of belonging by creating teams.