Mary Parker Follett, Hugo Munsterberg, and Elton Mayo are all considered pioneers and founders of the industrial/organizational psychology and behaviorism movements in management theory. These three individuals wrote about the importance of considering behavioral aspects of workers in addition to the efficiency of workers. This was, in many ways, a continuation of the scientific method, with the critical difference of incorporating the human factors involved in effective management.
Mary Parker Follett (September 3, 1868 – December 18, 1933) was an American social worker, management consultant, and pioneer in the fields of organizational theory and organizational behavior. She criticized the overmanagement of employees, a process now known as micromanaging. Follett was known for the concept of reciprocal relationships and the idea that authority is inferior to integrative collaboration. Managers should enable, not dictate.
She also distinguished herself in the field of management by being sought out by President Theodore Roosevelt as his personal consultant on managing not-for-profit, non-governmental, and voluntary organizations. In her capacity as a management theorist, Mary Parker Follett pioneered the understanding of lateral processes within hierarchical organizations. Her contributions aided the beginning of the behaviorism movement of management by presenting the worker as more than just a machine.
Hugo Munsterberg (June 1, 1863 – December 19, 1916) was a German-American psychologist. He was one of the pioneers of applied psychology, extending his research and theories to industrial/organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational, and business settings. Munsterberg's writings are considered the genesis of the field of industrial psychology.
Industrial psychology, according to Munsterberg, focuses on topics such as hiring workers with personalities and mental abilities best suited to certain types of vocations, as well as on ways to increase motivation, performance, and retention. Munsterberg suggests that psychology could be used in many different industrial applications, including management, vocational decisions, advertising, job performance, and employee motivation. Many of Munsterberg's ideas, especially the idea of matching an individual's personality with the correct job set and skills, are common in the use of industrial/organizational psychology today.
George Elton Mayo (December 26, 1880 – September 7, 1949) was an Australian psychologist, sociologist, and organization theorist. Mayo is known as the founder of the human relations movement. His research includes the Hawthorne studies and his book The Human Problems of an Industrialized Civilization (1933).
The research he conducted in the Hawthorne studies of the 1930s showed the importance of groups in affecting the behavior of individuals at work. Mayo's employees Roethlisberger and Dickson conducted the practical experiments. This enabled him to make certain deductions about how managers should behave. He concluded that people's work performance is dependent on both social issues and job content. He suggested a tension between workers' "logic of sentiment" and managers' "logic of cost and efficiency" that could lead to conflict within organizations. Mayo's studies contributed to the behaviorism movement in management as managers became more aware of the "soft" skills that are important to successful management.
Follett, Munsterberg, and Mayo each introduced important components and ideas into the behaviorism perspective of management. They all believed that successful management comes from understanding how to best treat and motivate employees in order to help them succeed in their jobs and become as efficient as possible.