Charles A. Myers

Professor Charles A. Myers

Charles Myers – known to all as Charlie – was an expert in industrial relations. He held joint appointments in both the MIT Department of Economics and the Sloan School of Management, and at the time of his retirement in 1978, he held the Sloan Fellows Professor of Management chair.

Myers was born in State College, PA in 1913, received a Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State College in 1934 and a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1939. He joined MIT as instructor in economics and social science in 1939, was appointed assistant professor of industrial relations in 1941, associate professor in 1946, and full professor in 1949. He became director of the Industrial Relations Section, known today as the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research,(IWER),  in 1948 and held a joint appointment in economics and management beginning in 1964.

Professor Myers was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a charter member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, and president of the Industrial Relations Research Association in 1962.

In addition to his roles as professor, author, and labor arbitrator, Myers served in advisory roles on national task forces and councils. During World War II he was a special consultant to the Labor Division of the War Production Board, solving problems associated with converting consumer goods industries to war production. In 1943 he was associated with the Civilian Personnel Division of the War Department and the following year he served as a public panel member of the War Labor Board in Boston. Later he was a member of a federal advisory council on employment security (1957-1959), served on the Presidential Railroad Commission from 1960-1962, and on a national task force to review the US Employment Service (1956). In 1969 he was appointed chairman of the National Manpower Policy Task Force.

Professor Myers was the author or a co-author of numerous books on labor economics and labor relations, including Personnel Administration (1947), a book he co-authored with Paul Pigors that became one of the leading texts on the subject that contextualizes the process of developing and managing human assets in organizations. During his early days at MIT, Myers was actively involved in two major labor market studies undertaken by scholars in the MIT Industrial Relations Section, The Movement of Factory Workers (1943) and The Dynamics of a Labor Market (1951), that identified the movement of factory workers in a New England city (1937-1942) as well as the movement of textile mill workers in a major downsizing (1948-1949). By following the workers who were laid off or left voluntarily, these studies sought to understand the experiences of these workers, their employers and unions as they responded to the rigidity of wages during changing economic conditions.

Myers was also a member of the Inter-University Study of Labor Problems in Economic Development with other leading industrial relations scholars, Clark Kerr, John Dunlop, and Frederick Harbison, that led to the publication of Industrialism and Industrial Man (1960) and their subsequent Final Report (1975). In these works, they take a comparative perspective to understand variations in industrial relations worldwide and to examine the structure of management and the managed in the context of industrialism. Myers and Harbinson subsequently co-authored two books that similarly take an international perspective, Management in the Industrial World (1959) and Education, Manpower, and Economic Growth (1964), where they attempt to formulate a generalized, global concept of management of industrial organization and human resource development. His international work also led to books that examined labor-management systems in specific countries, including Industrial Relations in India (1970) with Subbiah Kannappan and Industrial Relations in Sweden (1951).

Professor Myers died on April 2, 2000, at the age of 87.