Elton Mayo papers
Conditions Governing Access
Restrictions on Access:
Extent10 linear feet (16 boxes, 2 cartons, 10 reels of microfilm)
Mayo’s work at Harvard Business School is documented in Series II, which includes teaching notes and committee records. Information about Mayo’s role as Head of the Department of Industrial Research is contained in his file of correspondence with Dean Wallace Donham. Additional information about Mayo’s Harvard Business School activities can be found in Series I, Correspondence, and in Series VI, Writings and Speeches.
Much of Mayo’s research and consultation regarding the research of others is found in Series IV, which contains interviews and reports regarding industrial relations and efficiency studies conducted at various locations. Correspondence in Series I and articles and speeches in Series VI supplement the information in Series IV. Series IV also documents Mayo’s World War II activities as an advisor and committee chairman with responsibilities for overseeing research about re-entry of veterans into the American work force (see folders pertaining to the National Research Council). Mayo’s research concerning the Hawthorne Study at the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne, Illinois plant is concentrated in Series V and is supplemented by writings in Series VI and correspondence in Series I.
Mayo’s interests in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and psychology are documented in Series I, Correspondence; Series III, Australian Study and Teaching; and Series V, Writings and Speeches. Generalizations about psychiatry can be found in Mayo’s published articles (Series VI).
Mayo’s teaching activities are documented in two places in the collection. Lectures given at the University of Queensland are found in Series III. Teaching notes used at Harvard Business School are found in Series II.
When Elton Mayo moved to the United States in 1923 he found a climate receptive to the type of industrial research he was interested in doing. He became a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Commerce and Finance where he at the studied the interplay of physical and psychological factors in employee turnover at Continental Mills. In 1926 he moved to Harvard Business School to become Head of the new Department of Industrial Research. He was Associate Professor at Harvard Business School from 1926-1929, Professor from 1929-1947, and Professor Emeritus from 1947-1949. The Rockefeller Foundation’s Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund supported much of his research at Harvard Business School.
Between 1928 and 1933 Mayo was closely associated with the Hawthorne Study, an industrial research project conducted at the Western Electric Company's plant in Hawthorne, Illinois. Phase One of the study involved careful test room observations of employees who were subjected to variations in their working conditions for the purpose of learning how change affected productivity. Phase Two of the study produced confidential interviews with 20,000 workers. Mayo later studied workers at other plants and became the principal exponent of the human relations school of management theory. This approach to management, which commanded a great deal of attention in the 1930s and which became very influential, focused on the feelings of individuals working in organizations, and argued that management theory should be concerned primarily with interpersonal relations. Integration of individuals and of informal groups of workers into the larger working environment was a paramount goal. The movement suggested that an organization that recognized human needs and listened to ideas and complaints from its employees would see an increase in productivity and morale. Among the many researchers who were heavily influenced by Mayo were William Dickson, George Homans, George Lombard, Fritz Roethlisberger and Jerome Scott.
Elton Mayo practiced psychotherapy on many patients and attempted to apply psychological insights to his work in industrial research. He published many articles and several books regarding human factors in industry.
Mayo married Dorothea McConnell on April 18, 1913; the couple had two daughters. He died in Guilford, England on December 9, 1949.
- Series I. Correspondence, 1913-1960
- ___Subseries A. Personal and Family Correspondence, 1913-1960
- ___Subseries B. Professional Correspondence, 1922-1947
- Series II. HBS Teaching Materials, 1925-1947
- ___Subseries A. HBS General Materials, 1925-1947
- ___Subseries B. HBS Teaching Materials, 1941-1946
- Series III. Australian Study and Teaching, 1909-1922
- ___Subseries A. Student Notes, University of Adelaide, 1909
- ___Subseries B. Teaching Materials, University of Queensland, 1914-1922
- Series IV. Research-Related Activities, 1911-1948
- ___Subseries A. National Research Council, 1937-1948
- ___Subseries B. Research Records, 1911-1948
- Series V. Western Electric Company Hawthorne Study, 1924-1945
- Series VI. Writings and Speeches, 1909-1947
- Series VII. Restricted Materials, 1913-1943
Portions of Series VII. Restricted Materials are reproduced on microfilm.
By: Jeffrey Mifflin
- Mayo, Elton, 1880-1949. Elton Mayo Papers, 1909-1960: A Finding Aid
- Baker Library
- EAD ID
Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository
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