Alfred A. Bolton
Alfred A. Bolton, age 80, Professor Emeritus, Averett College, Danville, Virginia, died Thursday, July 5, 2007.
Born November 12, 1926, at Windle Village, Ontario, Canada, he and his family moved to Clarksburg, West Virginia in the early 1930s. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in August, 1938. After finishing high school, he was employed as a journeyman glass cutter and later served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II and was recalled to duty as a Lieutenant in the Korean War.
He earned his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University in 1951 and began his 35- year business career with Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone, then part of AT&T. He continued his education receiving his master’s degree from Goddard University in 1980 and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in 1985.
He taught at Trinity College and the American University in Washington, D.C. and George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia before joining the Averett faculty. He was a tenured professor at Averett and chair of the business department until his retirement in 2004.
His dissertation was based on personal interviews with surviving Relay Assembly Test Room participants and their test room supervisor of that part of the well-known but controversial Hawthorne Studies, conducted at the Hawthorne Plant of the Western Electric Company. His findings provided new insights by recording the perspectives of the individuals who were themselves involved in the Relay Assembly Test Room. This research cast many doubts on the “official accounts” of the Hawthorne Studies.
Bolton also published research on Robert Owen, Mary Barnett Gilson, Herman Hollerith, and the craft of glass cutting. He served the Academy of Management for many years, including chairing the Management History Division. In 1998 he received the John F. Mee Award for outstanding contributions to the field of management history, and in 1999 was one of five scholars profiled in a Journal of Management History article titled “Management History Gurus of the 1990s, Their Lives and Contributions.” In 2002 he received the Ronald G. Greenwood Award in recognition for his lifetime contribution to the study of management history.
He often published with his long-time teacher, mentor, and friend, Ronald Greenwood. Many of their publications and presentations added to our understanding of the results from the Hawthorne Studies. He frequently participated in professional development workshops for doctoral students and typically presented some of those in attendance with telephone relays he had collected after the Hawthorne Plant closed.
He often reassured young doctoral candidates not to worry about getting tenure because he was 70 when he did so at Averett. Always a perfect gentleman, his colleagues and all those whose lives he touched in and out of the classroom will miss his quiet, casual style of connecting with all those around him, his self-effacing and caring demeanor, and his ever ready smile.