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Human relation theory/ELTON MAYO

Elton-MayoHuman relation theory/ELTON MAYO

-This theory came as a reaction to the classical approach, which stressed on formal structure.
-The classical school neglected the human side and under emphasized on the socio-psychological aspect of organisation.
-George Elton Mayo was in charge of certain experiments on human behavior carried out at the Hawthorne Works of the General Electric Company in Chicago between 1924 and 1927.His research findings have contributed to organization development in terms of human relations and motivation theory.What he found however was that work satisfaction depended to a large extent on the informal social pattern of the work group. Where norms of cooperation and higher output were established because of a feeling of importance, physical conditions or financial incentives had little motivational value. People will form work groups and this can be used by management to benefit the organization

Flowing from the findings of these investigations he came to certain conclusions as follows:•

Work is a group activity.
• The social world of the adult is primarily patterned about work activity.
• The need for recognition, security and sense of belonging is more important in determining workers’ morale and productivity than the physical conditions under which he works.
• A complaint is not necessarily an objective recital of facts; it is commonly a symptom manifesting disturbance of an individual’s status position.
• The worker is a person whose attitudes and effectiveness are conditioned by social demands from both inside and outside the work plant.
• Informal groups within the work plant exercise strong social controls over the work habits and attitudes of the individual worker.
• The change from an established society in the home to an adaptive society in the work plant resulting from the use of new techniques tends continually to disrupt the social organization of a woark plant and industry generally.
• Group collaboration does not occur by accident; it must be planned and developed. If group collaboration is achieved the human relations within a work plant may reach a cohesion which resists the disrupting effects of adaptive society.

Elton mayo is considered as the father of human relation theory. He conducted hawthorne studies to decipher the psychological and human aspect of organization.

The following studies were taken up

1. ILLUMINATION EXPERIMENT :- in this experiment mayo changed the physiological aspects related to work, but the productivity showed no direct relationship. This experiment proofed that productivity is not only the function of physiological aspects but is also influenced by the social and psychological factors too.

2. RELAY ASSEMBLY TEST ROOM EXPERIMENT: – in this experiment mayo tried to analyze the relationship between working condition and morale. In this experiment mayo made changes with respect to the incentive, rest periods, work conditions etc. , but such changes caused no improvement in productivity.

3. MASS INTERVIEWING PROGRAMME :- in this experiment mayo asked the employe about their grievances. This activity improved the productivity of the employees.

4. BANK WIRING EXPERIMENT :- this experiment highlighted the social cohesion among the employees.
Findings with respect to human relation school are highlighted in “management and worker” of Roethlisberger and Dickson.

1. Social and psycological factors: – at work place these factors determine workers morale and output, not physical factors.
2. Organization is social system
3. Non economic rewards affects the workers behavior and morale
4. Workers are not isolated but are social animals
5. Workers react to management as members of informal groups rather then individual
6. Workers tend to form small social groups (informal groups) which sets production norms and behavioural patterns
7. Leadership, style of supervision and participation play a greater influence on workers behavior, satisfaction and productivity
Elements of human relation theory

1. Individual: – it reconization importance of individual emotions and perceptions. According to this theory each person bring his own set of attitudes and skills to the job. The workers production depends upon the the human relation at the work and not the physical or the economic conditions.
2. Informal organization. It recognizes the existence and influence of informal organization. It is a sect of work relationships that grow out of the mutual interaction of persons working together over a long period of time.
3. Participative management-human relation theory advocated this style.he advocated participation of workers in decision makingwith regard to their working conditions.


It did not reject classical theory totally. It only modified some critical gaps and because of it ,it is called as a neo-classical theory.Human relation differed in basic approach to organization .they characterize it as a social system in addition to the formal structure. It accepted efficiency and productivity as major concerns of the management.

Criticism of human relation theory.

1. It lacks scientific validity.
2. Behavior of the workers during the experiments was not natural .It was actually the hawthorne effect which give their best when observed.
3. It is pro-management and anti-union.
4. It gave little attention the formal relation while putting greater emphasis on the informal relations.
5. This theory is not aware of the economic dimension and neglected the nature of work.
6. It could not explore the multi dimensional phenomenon of human motivation.
7. Marxists says that it is a new technique to exploit workers as it de-emphasised economic factors.
8. It is over-concerned with happiness.
9. It does not recognize the conflict as a creative force.
10. It ignored the environmental factors of workers attitudes.


Public Administration by G.Rajput

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