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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

As ritualistically conveyed in management and organization studies textbooks, the Human Relations ‘school’ of management (HRS) is understood to have emerged from investigations into human association in the workplace by Elton Mayo and his associates between 1924 and 1932 at the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric. The HRS is said to have brought people’s social needs into the limelight and thereby increased their capacity for ‘spontaneous collaboration’ at work. This perspective, however, has been challenged by a growing body of scholars who have demonstrated that HRS provided employers with an authoritarian management model that held employees are irrational, agitation-prone individuals whose demand for better wages and working conditions was symptomatic of a deep psychosocial maladjustment. This perspective enabled employers to monopolise authority in the workplace and justify this monopoly on the grounds that workers lacked the rationality required to participate in management decision-making.

Keywords: Human Relations school of management, Elton Mayo, John D. Rockefeller Jr, Hawthorne, management

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