For whom does the bell toll: A political analysis of criticisms of the Hawthorne studies

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Authors
Muldoon, Jeffrey
Liguori, Eric W.
Lovett, Steven
Stone, Christopher B.
Issue Date
2021-05-18
Type
Article
Language
en_US
Keywords
Elton Mayo , Hawthorne studies , Management history
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Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to analyze the political background of the Hawthorne criticisms, positing that the political atmosphere of the 1940s, influenced by the decline of the new deal liberalism and the rise of the conservative coalition, stimulated scholars to challenge the Hawthorne studies. Design/methodology/approach: Primary sources used in the guise of archival commentaries, journal articles and other published works (books and book chapters). Secondary sources are offered to provide additional insight and context. Findings: The findings show that politics unnecessarily discredited Mayo. As a result, contemporary scholars failed to recognize Mayo’s work as an important part of the basis for modern management theory. Research limitations/implications: The purpose of the research is to look into the political context of the Hawthorne studies to understand how management practice and research is impacted by ongoing political issues. Originality/value: To date, no work has fully accounted for or understood the political climate of the time in considering the criticisms of the Hawthorne studies. By more fully understanding the political context, scholars can reevaluate the weight they place on the then criticisms of the Hawthorne studies.

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Citation
Muldoon, J., Liguori, E. W., Lovett, S., & Stone, C. (2021). For whom does the bell toll: A political analysis of criticisms of the hawthorne studies. Management Research Review, doi:10.1108/MRR-06-2020-0333
Publisher
Emerald Publishing Limited
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ISSN
2040-8269
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