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Sample essay topic, essay writing: George Elton Mayo - 1259 words
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Elton Mayo was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 26 December 1880 and died in Guildford, Surrey on 1 September 1949. He was the second child of a respected colonial family; his father was a civil engineer, and his mother Henrietta Mary ne'e Donaldson was devoted to her children's education and success. Elton was expected to follow his grandfather into medicine, but failed at university studies and was sent to Britain. Here he turned to writing, wrote on Australian politics for the Pall Mall Gazette and taught at the Working Men's College in London. He then returned to Australia to work in an Adelaide publishing business where his radical management practices were not appreciated.
He returned to university and became the most brilliant student of the philosopher Sir William Mitchell, won prizes for scholarship and in 1912 was appointed a foundation lecturer in philosophy and education at the newly established university in Queensland. Here he married Dorothea McConnel, who had been educated in landscape art at the Sorbonne and frequently visited Europe. They had two daughters, Patricia Elton Mayo, who would follow her father's management thinking and had an interesting sociological career, and Ruth, who became a British artist and novelist and took the name Gael Elton Mayo.Mayo taught philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, economics, education and the new psychology of Freud, Jung and especially Pierre Janet. From the beginning he trained himself in public speaking, and became an outstanding lecturer. He spoke at Worker's Education Association classes and tutorials, and addressed unions and professional bodies
He much impressed Bronislaw Malinowski when they met in 1914, and they became good friends. During the First World War he served on government bodies, advised on the organization of work for the war effort, wrote and lectured on industrial and political psychology and psychoanalysis, and contributed a lively piece (Mayo and Booth 1916) to Lady Galway's Belgium Book. He was made a professor of philosophy in his university's reorganization after the war. With a young Brisbane doctor, Thomas R.H. Matthewson, who had sought advice on the management of patients suffering war neurosis, Mayo refined his clinical skills in psychotherapy.
He began to apply his observations on Matthewson's patients, and the ideas of the new psychology to political and industrial problems and political agitators (Trahair 1981, 1982). He felt he could trace society's ills to psychological causes (Bourke 1982).Mayo applied unsuccessfully for a directorship of adult education at the University of Melbourne, and went there to lecture on psychoanalysis before taking sabbatical leave to Britain in 1922. He intended to visit the United States on his way to the UK to work with a medical scholar at Oxford. However, from the moment he landed in San Francisco he was sought as a speaker on many social psychological topics, attracted the attention of industrialists and industrial psychologists for his thoughts on psychological causes of industrial unrest, and readily explained America's industrial problems by reference to understandable irrationalities among workers, the poor skills of managers and the inhuman conditions of work that made for an insane society (Mayo 1919, 1922a, 1922b).When his university refused to extend Mayo's unpaid sabbatical leave, it forced his resignation. Destitute in the United States, he vigorously sought help from those who had led him to believe there was support readily available for his ideas and industrial research plans. Unexpectedly, he was promised an income for six months by the philanthropist John D.
Rockefeller, and given a temporary post at the University of Pennsylvania in 1923. There he researched the value of rest pauses on worker productivity in various textile firms. In one study he introduced regular pauses from the back-breaking work in a cotton-spinning mill and saw improvements in worker productivity. The practice was assiduously opposed by the foremen who, when Mayo was absent from the plant, returned workers to past practices. The effect of their intervention was a dramatic fall in productivity, thus illustrating the effectiveness of Mayo's rest pauses.
Mayo drew attention to this quasi-experiment to support his view on the value of treating employees humanely. Using these data, and the psychological and sociological ideas in his Democracy and Freedom and related papers (Mayo 1919, 1922a, 1922b), and his remarkable gift for public speaking, Mayo attracted much attention from notable American psychologists for his views on the value of the new psychology, in particular, the role of mental reveries for understanding variations in individual behaviour and social interaction at work.Within two years he was offered a choice of the directorship of the new psychological laboratory at McGill University or a research professorship in the recently invigorated Harvard Business School, with enormous support from the Rockefeller Foundation. He chose the latter. In Boston, he wanted to study the impact of changed working conditions on the physical and psychological welfare of employees. To do this, he aimed to validate an index of blood pressure which correlated with the workers' psychological and physical states of fatigue. This, he believed, he could then relate to both the social and psychological welfare of employees at work, at home and in community life.
His efforts to secure research sites were supported in principle by higher management, and in person by employees, but were rejected by middle managers. Meanwhile he taught occasionally at Harvard Business School, and took on assistants and some young scholars who seemed in need of counselling as well as research supervision (Roethlisberger 1977).In March 1928 Mayo was approached by the Western Electric Company's controller of manufacturing to give his views on an unusual research finding which showed that in some cases employees' productivity varied inversely with variations in the rest pauses they were expected to adopt. Mayo was asked if organic differences between workers could explain these odd findings. He concluded that attitude to work seemed to affect the behaviour of the employees. This led management to introduce a large-scale interviewing programme at a plant in Chicago, to establish what the workers felt and thought about their work. When he learned of the programme in September 1928, Mayo became interested in the training of interviewers.By March 1929 the company wanted Mayo to take full responsibility for the programme of interviewing 10,000 employees.
He suggested the firm could train its own interviewers with a little guidance and encouragement from him. His guidance was simple: give your full attention to the interviewee, and make it evident that you are doing so; listen and do not talk; never argue or give advice; listen for what the interviewee wants to say, does not want to say, and cannot say without help; as you listen plot tentatively, and for subsequent correction, the pattern of experience that is being presented before you; to test your grasp of the pattern summarize cautiously and clearly what has been said without twisting it; and finally, treat what has been said in confidence. These rules became the basis of Mayo's clinical technique for data collection, and his sociological training for humane management. For three years, Mayo collaborated with the researchers at the Hawthorne Works in Chicago. He nurtured the relations he had founded between them and the Harvard Business School, and sought to protect the work from both professional criticism and the business depression.On his annual journeys to Europe during the 1930s to be with his wife and daughters, Mayo took every opportunity at university meetings, academic conferences in Britain and on the European continent, and at informal gatherings with colleagues to outline and discuss the work at the Hawthorne Works, and when he returned alone to the United States he would tell the management at the Hawthorne plant and their superiors at compan ...
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