HUMAN RELATIONS MOVEMENT
Without much doubt, the father of the "human
relations" movement, aka the "social man" era, "democratic
management", or "participative management" is Elton Mayo (1880-1949), a Harvard professor
trained in psychopathology who is most famous for the well-known
"Hawthorne Studies", a 20-year experiment at a Western Electric plant
in Cicero, Illinois.
The "Hawthorne Effect" is the name given to the 112% increase in output by workers who perceive that they are being studied somehow. Mayo and his good-looking male research assistants let the almost all-female group of workers at the Hawthorne plant think they were studying the effects of lighting on productivity. They found that output increased even when the lighting levels were decreased, even when salaries were adjusted downward, and even when worker complaints were ignored. By a process of elimination, the only explanation left was the attention Mayo and his assistants were paying to the workers.
Over the years, managers have used the Hawthorne Effect successfully for quick gains in productivity by implementing self-study committees, announcing surprise audits, establishing task forces of various kinds, and in general, keeping the workers tied up with busy-work that has the appearance of ongoing research.
Mayo stated that the reason workers are motivated by such things is that individuals have a deep psychological need to believe that their organization cares about them, is open, concerned, and willing to listen. The sociological implications are that the human dimensions of work (group relations) exert a tremendous influence on behavior, overriding the organizational norms and even the individual's own self-interests. The discoveries of "social capacity", "informal work groups", and "employee-centered management" were nothing short of revolutionary for administrative thought.
The "Cult of Mayoism" became the predominant management philosophy in its day, as administrators everywhere sought to re-train their supervisors to play the role that Mayo's assistants played. This led to the establishment of "management retreats" where managers engaged in Rogerian therapies, Maslowian therapies, sensitivity training, Parent-Adult-Child training, and other forms of group dynamics to become more employee-centered.
SOME BASIC IDEAS OF MAYOISM
1. Supervisors should not act
like supervisors - they should be friends, counselors to the workers
2. Managers should not try to micro-manage the organization by an overriding concern for product or job quality at the expense of the macro-social, or humanistic, characteristics of work
3. People should be periodically asked how they feel about the work, their supervisors, and co-workers
4. Humanistic supervision plus morale equals productivity
5. Those who don't respond to group influence should be treated with sarcasm
6. Workers should be involved or at least consulted before any change in the organization
7. Employees who leave should be exit-interviewed - turnover should be kept to a minimum
CRITICISMS OF MAYOISM
Mayoism was criticized on several grounds, most of
which revolved around the charge it was "Cow psychology" (Contented
Cows Give More Milk). It was a bit too idealistic in trying to remove any form
of conflict from the organization, a bit too evangelistic in trying to save the
world, and it excused much immaturity and irresponsibility among the workers.
Two of the harshest CRITICS were March & Simon (1958) Organizations
NY:John Wiley and Charles Lindblom (1959) "The Science of Muddling
Through" Public Administration Review 19: 79-88.
March & Simon (1958) called Mayoism the "garbage-can model" of decision-making because it was basically irrational and seemed to offer a garbage can full of easy answers. March & Simon themselves were critics of perfect rationality, and gave us such terms as "bounded rationality" and "satisfycing" to explain the kinds of things managers have to settle for. In criminal justice, for example, we often have to settle for less than individualized justice (a policy to not investigate crimes involving less than $1000 in property) because of the need to satisfice the demands between goals of the organization and efficient uses of humanpower.
Charles Lindblom (1959) also studied the process of limited rationality, and said that Mayoism can't figure out how to sort out and value-rank competing employee needs related to a particular problem. Therefore, it results in an incremental (slow, step-by-step) approach to innovation because the manager must act on compromises.
SELECTED FOLLOWERS OF MAYOISM
Keith Davis (1940s & 1950s) was
a human relations specialist ("Mr.
Human Relations") who tried to apply Mayoism to law enforcement
agencies by preaching about such things as job enlargement and job enrichment
which only had the effect of generating public interest in policing as a
Chris Argyris (~1957) was a social science researcher who advocated a type of participant-observation research based on Hawthorne Effect-like principles, i.e., involving your research subjects in designing the way in which survey questions are worded and how concepts should be operationally defined and measured. He founded a management theory called "Immaturity-Maturity Theory" which is based on an organic model of organizations as living, happy beings, and requiring managers to be babysitters at times and reality therapists at other times.
Fred Herzberg (~1959) founded "Motivation-Hygiene Theory" which is based on 5 types of "satisfiers" and 5 types of "dissatisfiers" in organizations, with hygiene factors being the dissatisfiers and motivators being the satisfiers. People, in their attribution style, are either hygiene-seekers or motivator-seekers, in which case they are driven by changes in job context or job content, respectively. Hygiene-seekers let the organization down when their talents are most needed. Perhaps the following chart will help to explain a complicated theory:
Primarily dissatisfied by:
A. motivated by job context - the environment of the
Primarily satisfied by:
A. motivated by job content - the nature of the task
Doug McGregor (1960) founded
"Theory X/Theory Y Management Theory" which was inspired by Abraham
Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Theory X, which McGregor calls traditional
management is based on the idea employees are lazy and need to be motivated by
crass, material rewards. Theory Y, which McGregor favors, is based on the idea
employees are creative and need to have their potential unleashed.
Rensis Likert (1961) is famous for his continuum research scales, so-called "Likert scales" in social science research, such as /------strongly agree----agree----disagree-----strongly disagree-----/, and also for a number of studies into leadership, called the "University of Michigan studies". In general, he advocated more employee-oriented leadership and supportive management.