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The emergence of management has been a perplexing development worldwide for intellectuals, labour leaders, politicians, and the worker. No group has produced as much or generated as much hatred and fear as the manager. Marxian and Critical theorists deprecate managers; mainstream business thinkers praise them. Gerard Hanlon entered into the debate regarding the “dark side” of management and analyzes the impact that management has on the worker. Unlike other management historians, Hanlon does take the worker’s views and values seriously, citing labour and management historians alike. Likewise, Hanlon takes the agency of labour to accept, collaborate, and resist management as an important consideration in understanding the process and evolution of management. I believe that these contributions are important and noteworthy. I believe a work of management history that takes into consideration historians, such as Herbert Gutman and David Montgomery, would produce a management history of greater nuance. I also believe that there is great importance to link management to social democracy and liberalism as a hedge against capital.

However, Hanlon fails at this nuance, revealing a lack of understanding of management, economics and history. Mostly, it is difficult to take any book on management history that does not have a single citation of Daniel Wren, Arthur Bedeian, or Ronald Greenwood. If those scholars are too conservative, Hanlon also fails to cite Milorad Novicevic, Albert Mills, John Hassard and Michael Rowlinson. Even though he cites the work of Chris Nyland, Hanlon misses the connection that Nyland made between Taylorism and liberalism. Furthermore, Hanlon writes an entire book on 19th and 20th century America but does not have a single reference to Richard Hofstadter, Gordon Wood, Daniel Walker Howe, Lizabeth Cohen, James Patterson, David Kennedy, Nelson Lichenstein, Steven Fraser, Alan Brinkley or James McPherson. These are not obscure historians. These admissions damage the historical interpretations of the book.

I will provide some examples. There are several major problems with Hanlon’s understanding of Mayo, both factual and interpretational. I use his issues with Mayo as a fulcrum due to my own work on Hawthorne. Contra Hanlon, Mayo’s fear was not the industrial worker or even democracy, but a mass grouping driven to hatred by a demagogue promising an impossible future featuring ever more social control and hatred of the other, which could include various ethnic groups, races, classes or religious groups. Furthermore, Mayo’s chapter on the Rabble Hypothesis is a rejection of economic thought and one that would have been rejected by Hayek, Becker and Lucas, as well as other economists who stressed price as the primary method of coordination. The “Rabble Hypothesis” is not a phrase that originated with Mayo, but David Ricardo. Ricardo’s argument is that nobody cares about society other than the way it affects their own needs, something that modern economists agree with. Mayo’s purpose was very different.

Likewise, “Spontaneous Cooperation” is not a phrase that just appears in his incomplete 1949 book, but it also appears in the 1945 version. Furthermore, it is borrowed from Chester Barnard, and does form parts of Mayo’s 1933 writings. Furthermore, Mayo argues that workers are irrational because they are not guided by economic incentives and some of their decisions are non-logical in orientation. Mayo was not a social scientist in the modern sense, but more of a philosopher, whose work bridged several fields. There is considerable evidence to suggest that behavioural economics, a field Mayo would have agreed with and supported, expresses merit in indicating that people are irrational. In addition, individuals view their economic gains through a social prism, a fact supported in the justice literature. Finally, contra to Hanlon, Mayo was not the first to attempt to change the mind of the worker. That could be laid at the feet of Taylor who stressed a mental revolution.

The book abounds several historical errors and a lack of understanding of even introductory textbook economics and sociology. Here are some examples: John Marshall was already Supreme Justice when the Dartmouth case was adjudicated. This case was important because it created the sanctity of the contract allowing for trust, without such economic exchange would cease to exist and corporation would be in the hands of the government. This ruling was only dissented to by Gabriel Duvall, who may have been the most inconsequential justice in history. Herbert Hoover, Walter Lippman and F.A. Hayek would have found little to agree with. The term neoliberalism is not defined and listing Hoover, Lippman and Hayek as neoliberals ignores the real differences between them. For American liberals, the embrace of Keynes was at the expense of economic planning. Value is not produced by craft, cost, or effort but marginal productivity, contrary to labour value theories. Management is not a parasite, but a coordinator of labour. Specialization is not a position of power, but an economic fact.

Here is the irony. There will always be elites. The idea that elites will disappear, and everyone will be equal is a fantastic idea. When Mayo wrote about traditional societies, he was talking about Kings and Chiefs, hardly an equalitarian past. Mayo and Taylor were highly critical of both management and labour, but they blamed management more. They wanted to make the existing elite better. They wanted to make cooperation between management and labour the concern of their work to reduce competition and hatred. I could see why people who lived and wrote between 1856 to 1949 would fear war. The characteristic of a top historian is empathy—the ability to understand the viewpoint of those people in which we disagree. One just wishes that Hanlon combined his insight of worker resistance with a more empathetic view of management. However, despite its limitations, Hanlon’s work is worth a read. It could inspire scholars to examine the labour issue from both the perspective of labour and management history. Both approaches have much to offer each other. I believe Hanlon’s work can begin the process of bridge forming.