The enduring legacy of Elton Mayo

J. H. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When Human Relations first appeared, Elton Mayo had just retired from Harvard and was at the peak of his fame. All contributors to the journal in its first decade would have acknowledged his already legendary status as a pioneer of applied social science, especially in the workplace. His fall from grace in the late 1950s coincided with growing ideological-cum-methodological critiques of the Hawthorne Experiments. In the event, this sustained interest in Mayo himself, although much of the comment on his contribution remained speculative and ill-informed. Fifty years on, the enigmatic aspects of Mayo's career have largely been unraveled, thanks to the availability of family letters and other archival material. A more balanced assessment is now possible of Mayo's intellectual interests and long-term contribution to the field of human relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-248
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1998


  • Elton Mayo
  • Human relations movement
  • Legacy
  • Life


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