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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

George Elton Mayo was born in Adelaide, a free settlement and the capital of South Australia, in December 1926, 1880. He landed himself a research fellowship at the Wharton School in Philadelphia in 1923, where he remained until his Harvard appointment in 1926. This article shows that Mayo’s formative years were propitious inasmuch as they connected him and John D. Rockefeller Jr., and thereby laid the path for Mayo’s ‘empirical’ investigation into organizational behaviour—initially called ‘human relations’—which propagated his reputation as the ‘founding father’ of the human relations ‘school’ of management theory. Mayo’s work laid the foundations for his approach to interpreting the Hawthorne results in his 1933 . Believing that the scientific study of individuals and human relationships at work must precede scientific management, he wanted to study workers and gauge how their past experiences, domestic life, and work conditions might precipitate pessimistic or ‘obsessional reveries’.

Keywords: George Elton Mayo, Harvard Business School, Human Problems, human relations, John Rockefeller Jr., management theory, organizational behaviour, Wharton School

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