From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Efficiency Movement was a major dimension
of the Progressive Era in the United States.
It flourished 1890-1932. Adherents argued that all aspects of the
economy, society and government were riddled with waste and
inefficiency. Everything would be better if experts identified the problems and fixed them.
The result was strong support for building research universities
and schools of business and engineering, municipal research
agencies, as well as reform of hospitals and medical schools.
Perhaps the best known leader was engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, who
proclaimed there was always "one best way" to fix a problem.
In U.S. federal politics, the most prominent figure was Herbert Hoover, a
trained engineer. Democrats blamed the
Depression on him and helped to somewhat discredit the
movement, though the demand for efficiency and elimination of waste
remains an important component of American values. John D.
Rockefeller was also an avid supporter of the efficiency
movement. In his many philanthropic pursuits, Rockefeller believed
in supporting efficiency. He once said,
- "To help an inefficient, ill-located, unnecessary school is a
waste...it is highly probable that enough money has been squandered
on unwise educational projects to have built up a national system
of higher education adequate to our needs, if the money had been
properly directed to that end."
Relation to other
Later movements had echoes of the Efficiency Movement and were
more directly inspired by Taylor and Taylorism. Technocracy, for instance, more of
a fad than a movement, and others flourished in the 1930s and
Postmodern opponents of nuclear energy in the 1970s broadened
their attack to try to discredit movements that saw salvation for
human society in technical expertise alone, or which held that
scientists or engineers had any special expertise to offer in the
Rockefeller, John D.; Random Reminiscences of Men and Events
- Samuel P. Hays "Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The
Progressive Conservation Movement 1890-1920". Harvard University
- Brian R. Fry; Mastering Public Administration: From Max
Weber to Dwight Waldo (1989)
- Haber, Samuel. Efficiency and Uplift: Scientific Management
in the Progressive Era, 1890-1920. University of Chicago
- Jensen, Richard. "Democracy, Republicanism and Efficiency: The
Values of American Politics, 1885-1930," in Byron Shafer and
anthony Badger, eds, Contesting Democracy: Substance and
Structure in American Political History, 1775-2000 (U of
Kansas Press, 2001) pp 149-180; online version
- Kanigel, Robert. The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor
and the Enigma of Efficiency. Penguin, 1997.
- Knoedler; Janet T. "Veblen and Technical Efficiency" in
Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 31, 1997
- Jordan, John. Machine-Age Ideology University of North
Carolina Press, 1994.
- Lamoreaux, Naomi and Daniel M. G. Raft eds. Coordination
and Information: Historical Perspectives on the Organization of
Enterprise University of Chicago Press, 1995
- Nelson, Daniel. Frederick W. Taylor and the Rise of
Scientific Management The University of Wisconsin Press,
- Nelson, Daniel. Managers and Workers: Origins of the
Twentieth-Century Factory System in the United States,
1880-1920 2d ed. University of Wisconsin Press, 1995b.
- Noble, David F. America by Design Oxford University
- Rockefeller, John D.; Random Reminiscences of Men and Events
- Taylor, Frederick Winslow, Scientific Management,
edited by H.S. Person. (1947).