Western Libraries

Biography - Elton Mayo

(1880 - 1949)

The image of Mayo (left) was scanned from a copy of Fortune held in the Business Library: "The Fruitful Errors of Elton Mayo Who Proposes to Management and Labor a Social Basis for Industrial Peace," Vol. XXXIV, No.5, November 1946, p.180. The photo was taken by Joseph Breitenbach .

The purpose of this brief guide is to point students of management thought to some of the resources held in the Western Libraries that relate to Elton Mayo. Two brief biographical sketches provide a useful starting point. The first is by Richard Gillespie and in it he states: "The writings of Mayo and his colleagues at the Harvard Business School formed the basis of human relations theory and had a significant impact on management theory and practice in the 1940s and 1950s"(p.440). It is found in "Mayo, George Elton (1880-1949)," The IEBM Handbook of Management Thinking ed. By Malcolm Warner ( HD38.15.I33 1998). The second is "Mayo, George Elton (1880-1949)" , by RT in The Biographical Dictionary of Management ed. by Morgan Witzel, Vol.1, p.640 ( HD30.15.B43 2001). Both these profiles contain brief bibliographies.

There are two biographical accounts of Mayo in book form. The first is The Life and Work of Elton Mayo by Lyndall F. Urwick ( HD6331.M44U7 1960). This account is actually a paper delivered by Urwick to the plenary session of the XIIth International Management Congress in Melbourne on the 29th of February, 1960. Although short, it also contains: 1) a "List of Articles by Elton Mayo" - Table IV, p.32; 2) an "Outline of Career and Principal Writings" - Table III, p.30; 3) "The Hawthorne Experiments," - Table I, p.28 and 4)"Bibliography of Writings About the Hawthorne Experiments” - Table II, p.29. Here is Urwick's conclusion:

Mayo's claim to a place in the evolution of scientific management is a simple one. He was the first man to show clearly how modern psychiatric methods of enquiry into the problems of people might be lifted out of the laboratory and taken bodily onto the factory floor. In doing so he broadened and changed profoundly the outlook of industrial psychology. He directed the attention of sociologists to the importance of examining total situations and not confining themselves to the intensive exploration of particular problem areas. He demonstrated unmistakably, unanswerably, and for all time that human relations is an inter-disciplinary subject in which the defence of particular specializations is infinitely less important than a comprehensive sympathy with and understanding of man in all his manifestations, social as well as individual. In doing this he made human relations studies both more sober and more profound, And he inspired literally thousands of later workers to feel that the task of detailed clinical observation was not a thankless labour, but the very foundation of any knowledge to which we may attain if it is to be both exact and of practical application (pp.22-23).

The second is The Humanist Temper: The Life and Work of Elton Mayo, by Richard C.S. Trahair, (DBWSTK HD6957.U6T73 1984). A new edition of this work was produced in 2005 with a slightly different title. An interesting review of the first edition is found in the Business Quarterly which, of course, was published by the Business School at Western and continues as the Ivey Business Journal. For the review see: "Biography of Elton Mayo, Highlights His Contribution to Management Theory," by Joe Martin, BQ, Vol. 50, No.3, Autumn, 1985 (print and electronic copies are available). Martin notes that Mayo twice almost settled in Canada and that his description of life in Adelaide is fascinating. His conclusion: "For practicing management consultants and all interested in the theory of management, this book is must reading".

Mayo is the subject of doctoral dissertations and one that is available to you full text via ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses is: A New Way of Statecraft: The Career of Elton Mayo and the Development of the Social Sciences in America, 1920-1940 by David O'Donald Cullen. That dissertation will lead you to others, including this one: The Comparative Administrative Philosophies of Frederick W. Taylor and Elton Mayo by William Hawley Cooper.

Mayo is associated with the Hawthorne Experiments and on that subject we have a guide that contains information that will also be of interest to anyone studying the life and work of Elton Mayo. See: "Fritz Jules Roethlisberger and the Hawthorne Studies".

Books by Elton Mayo in the Western Libraries

Mayo, Elton, et al. Teamwork and Labor Turnover in the Aircraft Industry of Southern California. Vol. 32. Boston, Mass.: Harvard University, Graduate School of Business Administration, Bureau of Business Research, 1944.
ARCC HF5001.H33 no.32

Mayo, Elton, and Harvard University. The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization. Boston: Division of research, Graduate school of business administration, Harvard University, 1945. HUR, DBW, HD6331.M42 (various editions, see below).

Mayo, Elton. The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization. 2nd ed. Boston: Division of research, Graduate school of business administration, Harvard university, 1946.
King's, DBW HD6331.M4 (various editions)

Mayo, Elton. The Political Problem of Industrial Civilization.I. the Modernization of a Primitive Community. II. Change and its Social Consequences. Two Lectures Delivered at a Conference on Human Relations and Administration, Harvard University, Graduate School of Business Administration, May 10 and 11, 1947. Boston: Division of Research, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, 1947.
BUS JC433.M35

Mayo, Elton. The Psychology of Pierre Janet. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
DBW BF109.J3M3 1972 (reprint of the 1952 edition)

Mayo, Elton. Some Notes on the Psychology of Pierre Janet. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1948.
ARCC R507.J3M3

Mayo, Elton. The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization; with an Appendix on the Political Problem. London, Routledge & K. Paul, 1949.
KING'S HD6331.M3S6 (1949 ed.)
KING'S HD6331.M3S61 (1945 ed.)
KING'S HD6331.M3S62 (1975 ed.)

Mayo, Elton. The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization. Vol. C67. New York: Viking Press, 1960. [electronic resource]
BUS, DBW HD6331.M4 (1946 ed.)
BRESCIA HD6971.M47 (1959 ed.)
LAW HD6971.M39 1960 (1960 ed.)
DBW HD6331.M4 1960 (1960 ed.)


For an essay by Mayo found in a book in the Western Libraries see: "Maladjustment of the Industrial Worker," Elton Mayo in the Wertheim Lectures on Industrial Relations - 1928, p.165. ARCC HD8072.W4 1929

For another see: "Supervision and What it Means," Elton Mayo in Studies in Supervision: A Series of Lectures Delivered at McGill University, Montreal, Jan.30, 1945 - March 20, 1945. p.5. ARCC HF5549.C24 1945.

Mayo also provides the introduction to Industrial Peace in Our Time, by Hubert Somerville. ARCC HD21.S66 1950.

Journal Articles by Mayo Available in the Western Libraries

Mayo, Elton. "The Irrational Factor in Society." Journal of Personnel Research ,Vol.1, No.10 (1923): 419. ARCC HF5549.A2P5
Available in print

Mayo, Elton. "Changing Methods in Industry." Personnel Journal, Vol.8, No.5 (1930): 326. ARCC HF5549.A2P5
Available in print and electronically

Mayo, Elton. "The Human Effect of Mechanization." The American Economic Review Vol.20. No1, Supplement, Papers and Proceedings of the Forty-second Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (1930): 156-76.
Available in print and electronically

Mayo, Elton. "The Irrational Factor in Human Behavior. The "Night-Mind" in Industry." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 110. Psychology in Business (1923): 117-30.
Available in print and electronically

Mayo, Elton. "Irrationality and Revery." Journal of Personnel Research, Vol 1, No.11 (1923): 477.
Available in print

Mayo, Elton. "The Limits of Logical Validity." Mind 24.93 (1915): 70-4.
Available in print and electronically

Mayo, Elton. "Psychiatry and Sociology in Relation to Social Disorganization." The American Journal of Sociology 42.6 (1937): 825-31.
Available in print and electronically

Mayo, Elton. "Revery and Industrial Fatigue." Journal of Personnel Research, Vol.3, No.8 (1924): 273.
Available in print

Mayo, Elton. "Routine Interaction and the Problem of Collaboration." American Sociological Review 4.3 (1939): 335-40.
Available in print and electronically

Related Mayo Material in Books in the Western Libraries
(click on the links for additional details)

Gabor, Andrea.
The Capitalist Philosophers: The Geniuses of Modern Business – Their Lives, Time and Ideas
BUS HD70.U5G33 2000

Hoopes, James.
False Prophets: The Gurus Who Created Modern Management and Why Their Ideas are Bad for Business Today
BUS HD30.5.H665 2003

Pugh, Derek.
Great Writers on Organizations
DBW HM131.P74 1993

Sheldrake, John.
Management Theory: From Taylorism to Japanization
BUS HD31.S442 1997

Wren, Daniel.
Management Innovators: The People and Ideas That Have Shaped Modern Business
BUS HC102.5.A2W73 1998

For additional books related to Mayo, perform a keyword search in the catalogue of the Western Libraries. Such a search when performed using “Elton Mayo” will also pick up books by Patricia Elton Mayo who was his daughter. She died in 2000 and an interesting obituary is found in The Independent, August 3, 2000. In the article it is mentioned that Mayo’s papers are found at a number of institutions including Harvard and the LSE. (The Independent is available on Factiva and Lexis/Nexis).

For additional articles about Mayo there are a number of databases that are useful. We suggest four: Business Source Complete, ProQuest, JSTOR and Scholars Portal. For additional assistance, contact a librarian or e-mail: buslib@ivey.uwo.ca