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George Elton Mayo

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George Elton Mayo was born in Adelaide on the 26th December, 1880. After studying psychology and philosophy in his home city (1910), Mayo went on to become the foundational lecturer in Mental and Moral Philosophy at the University of Queensland in 1911, where he would later hold the first chair of philosophy (1919-1923). During his stay in Brisbane, Mayo served on the University’s war committee and pioneered research into the psychoanalytic treatment of shell-shock. Whilst in Australia, Mayo also delivered a series of lectures for the Workers’ Educational Association, claiming militant radicalism among the working class to be a form of madness, whose solution could be found in sociological research and industrial management. Moving to the United States in 1922, and catching the attention of the Harvard School of Business Administration, he was eventually appointed Associate Professor (1926) and then Professor of Industrial Research (1929). Mayo became a key figure in the famous Hawthorne experiments—a study into the personal and social factors determining work output at the Western Electric Co.’s Chicago plant. Building on this research foundation, Mayo was an early leader in the field of industrial sociology, emerging as one of the most influential, if controversial, social scientists of his time. His major publications included The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilisation (1933) and The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilisation (1945). Mayo retired from Harvard in 1947 and passed away in Guildford, Surrey, on 1st September 1949.