Elton Mayo

Elton Mayo

Name: Elton Mayo

Epoch: Early 20th Century (the \'Long Early Twentieth Century\')

Grouping Field: Humanities (Ideas Formatted as Ideas) and Social Science (Models)

Location Grouping: Individual\'s Work Location

Map Coordinates: 27°28\'38.6\"S 153°01\'44.2\"E

Years At Location: 1919-1923

One Historical Setting: Prof. George Elton Mayo, Department of Philosophy, University of Queensland Old, George Street, Brisbane City (1919)

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Elton Mayo was the first Professor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland from 1919, and been the foundation lecturer in mental and moral philosophy. In 1912 Mayo married Dorothea McConnel, sister of anthropologist Ursula McConnel. Unlike his sister-in-law, Mayo did establish his international reputation during his lifetime; however, it was well-after his time in Brisbane. He would go on to become the leading management theorist at the Harvard School of Business Administration during the 1930s and 1940s. Nevertheless, at the University of Queensland Mayo provided the ground-work, particularly in his first book, Democracy and Freedom (Melbourne, 1919).

Impact On Brisbane Society

As a conservative thinker, Mayo wanted to avoid industrial strife and political conflict in Australia. He saw an analogy between war neurosis and the psychological causes of industrial unrest. As biographer Helen Bourke explains:

“Drawing on social anthropology, he argued that the worker’s morale, or mental health, depended on his perception of the social function of his work. He saw the solution to industrial unrest in sociological research and industrial management rather than in radical politics.”

Although his time in Brisbane was brief, he left in 1922, this foundational work was achieved locally. With a Brisbane physician, Dr T. H. Mathewson, Mayo is said to have pioneered the psychoanalytic treatment of shell-shock.


Helen Bourke, ‘Mayo, George Elton (1880–1949)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mayo-george-elton-7541/text13155, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 3 November 2017. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Cooper, William Hawley. The Comparative Administrative Philosophies of Frederick W. Taylor and Elton Mayo, University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. Thesis, 1962.

Gregory, Helen. Vivant Professores: Distinguished Members of the University of Queensland, 1910-1940, University of Queensland Library, St. Lucia Qld, 1987.

Smith, J. H. Elton Mayo and the Genesis of Industrial Sociology: a Reappraisal, Social Science Research Council, London, 1976.

Trahair, Richard C. S. The Humanist Temper: the Life and Work of Elton Mayo, Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ, 1984.

Tyrer, Greville B. (Brandon). Elton Mayo’s Theory of Industrial Management, Monash University, Department of Management, Ph.D. Thesis, 2006.

Image Citation

Elton Mayo.