The Demonization of scientific management and the deification of human relations

Chris Nyland, Kyle Bruce

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


In recent years revisionist historians of management thought have come to re-evaluate the legacies of Taylor and Mayo. These scholars have rejected the notion that Mayo is the father of managerial humanism while at the same time questioning the claim that Taylor embraced a mechanistic and unsophisticated approach that was at odds with a democratized labor relations regime, both in the plant and throughout society. In this paper we build on these contributions by contrasting how the Taylorists and Mayoists viewed the notion of managerisal democracy and how their respective perspectives interacted with each other. We begin by indicating why the leaders of the Taylor Society supported the notion that workers should participate in all areas of management and then detail the distaste for managerial democracy that informed Mayo and his colleagues. Next we trace the continuing relationship between the Taylorist and Human Relations traditions through to the late 1940s. In undertaking this latter effort we explain how, with the help of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and other corporate oligarchs, Mayo managed to establish the Human Relations School (HRS hereafter) as the foundation upon which contemporary organization behavior and human resource management theory and practice is currently constructed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting 2011 - San Antiono, Texas
Duration: 12 Aug 201116 Aug 2011


ConferenceAcademy of Management Annual Meeting 2011
CitySan Antiono, Texas


  • Taylorism
  • Human Relations
  • Revisionism


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