Elton may


Elton Mayo was an Australian psychologist and sociologist, recognized for his contributions to the management sciences, being the main representative of the School of Human Relations.

Mayo was born in the city of Adelaide, in Australia, on December 26, 1880. He studied philosophy at the University of Adelaide and, later, began to teach at the University of Queensland (Australia).

In 1923, Mayo moved to Pennsylvania (United States), where he became interested in studying the dynamics of organizations and the working conditions within them.

In 1926, Mayo began work at Harvard Business School, and the following year he undertook the "Hawthorne experiment" with other researchers, which lasted five years.

After the study mentioned, and after World War II, Mayo moved to England, where he reunited with his wife and two daughters.

May passed away on September 7, 1949, in Guildford (United Kingdom).

Hawthorne experiment

Hawthorne's experiment began in 1927, at the Western Electric Company. This consisted in investigating the influence that a modification of the physical conditions of the work environment can have on labor productivity.

For the study, control groups were selected that were subjected to changes in lighting, while for other control groups the lighting was unchanged. Then, the productivity of both groups was contrasted, and no substantial differences were found, so other variables, in addition to lighting, must be impacting the workers.

The next thing was to subject a group to changes in different variables with reduction of working hours, breaks of varying duration, increase in wages, change in lighting conditions, among others. This, in order to find out what factors influenced productivity.

The initial hypothesis was that economic incentives increased productivity. However, this was not confirmed. Instead, it was concluded that socio-psychological conditions were the most relevant. In other words, employees were more productive when they perceived that their superiors cared about their well-being, when supervisors paid more attention to them (Hawthorne Effect).

Another of the conclusions of the experiment was that the company was made up not only by formal groups, which depend on the organizational structure, but by informal groups (those formed by affinity) that influence productivity. Thus, friendly relationships could improve the well-being of the individual and, therefore, their performance.

Furthermore, the worker would tend to produce neither far above nor far below social norms. This, to have the approval of co-workers.

Contributions from Elton Mayo

Elton Mayo's contributions can be summarized in the following main points:

  • Productivity depends on the physical conditions of the worker, but also on social norms and group expectations.
  • The social group influences the behavior of the individual.
  • Companies are also social organizations formed by informal groups that do not coincide with the company's formal groups. That is, people from different departments can establish a friendship relationship, forming an informal group.
  • The opinion of the employees must be taken into account in the decisions of the organization to make them feel motivated.
  • When the employee interacts more, he is more productive.

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