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Frederick Winslow Taylor

c.1900
Born 20 March 1856 (1856-03-20)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.
Died 21 March 1915 (1915-03-22)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.
Cause of death pneumonia
Resting place West Laurel Hill Cemetery
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation efficiency expert
management consultant
Known for "Father" of the
Scientific management
& Efficiency Movement
Spouse(s) Louise M. Spooner
Children Kempton, Robert and Elizabeth (all adopted orphans)
Parents Franklin Taylor
Emily Annette Winslow

Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856–March 21, 1915), widely known as F. W. Taylor, was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He is regarded as the father of scientific management, and was one of the first management consultants.[1]

Taylor was one of the intellectual leaders of the Efficiency Movement and his ideas, broadly conceived, were highly influential in the Progressive Era.

Contents

Biography

Taylor was born in 1856 to a wealthy Quaker family in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Taylor's ancestor, Samuel Taylor, settled in Burlington, New Jersey, in 1677. Taylor's father, Franklin Taylor, a Princeton-educated lawyer, built his wealth on mortgages.[2] Taylor's mother, Emily Annette Taylor (née Winslow), was an ardent abolitionist and a coworker with Lucretia Mott. Educated early by his mother, Taylor studied for two years in France and Germany and traveled Europe for 18 months.[3] In 1872, he entered Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Upon graduation, Taylor was accepted at Harvard Law. However, due to rapidly deteriorating eyesight, Taylor had to consider an alternative career. After the depression of 1873, Taylor became an industrial apprentice patternmaker, gaining shop-floor experience at a pump-manufacturing company Enterprise Hydraulic Works, Philadelphia. Taylor's career progressed in 1878 when he became a machine shop laborer at Midvale Steel Works. Taylor was promoted to gang-boss, foreman, research director, and finally, chief engineer at Midvale. Taylor took night study at Stevens Institute of Technology and in 1883 obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering through a highly unusual, for the time, series of correspondence courses.[4] While at Stevens Institute of Technology, Taylor was a Brother of the Gamma Chapter of Theta Xi. On May 3, 1884, he married Louise M. Spooner of Philadelphia.

From 1890 until 1893 Taylor worked as a general manager and a consulting engineer to management for Manufacturing Investment Company, Philadelphia, a company that operated large paper mills in Maine and Wisconsin. In 1893, Taylor opened an independent consulting practice in Philadelphia. His business card read "Systematizing Shop Management and Manufacturing Costs a Specialty". In 1898, Taylor joined Bethlehem Steel, where he, Maunsel White, and a team of assistants developed high speed steel. For his process of treating high speed tool steels he received a personal gold medal at the Paris exposition in 1900, and was awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal that same year by the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. Taylor was forced to leave Bethlehem Steel in 1901 after antagonisms with other managers. In 1901, Frederick and Louise Taylor adopted three orphans Kempton, Robert and Elizabeth.

On October 19, 1906, Taylor was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Pennsylvania.[5] Taylor eventually became a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.[6] Late winter of 1915 Taylor caught pneumonia and one day after his fifty-ninth birthday, on March 21, he died. He was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Work

Taylor was a mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. Taylor is regarded as the father of scientific management, and was one of the first management consultants and director of a famous firm. In Peter Drucker's description,

Frederick W. Taylor was the first man in recorded history who deemed work deserving of systematic observation and study. On Taylor's 'scientific management' rests, above all, the tremendous surge of affluence in the last seventy-five years which has lifted the working masses in the developed countries well above any level recorded before, even for the well-to-do. Taylor, though the Isaac Newton (or perhaps the Archimedes) of the science of work, laid only first foundations, however. Not much has been added to them since - even though he has been dead all of sixty years.[7]

Taylor was also an accomplished tennis player, who won the first doubles tournament in the 1881 U.S. National Championships, the precursor of the U.S. Open, with Clarence Clark.[8]

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Scientific management

Taylor believed that the industrial management of his day was amateurish, that management could be formulated as an academic discipline, and that the best results would come from the partnership between a trained and qualified management and a cooperative and innovative workforce. Each side needed the other, and there was no need for trade unions.

Future U.S. Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis coined the term scientific management in the course of his argument for the Eastern Rate Case before the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1910. Brandeis debated that railroads, when governed according to the principles of Taylor, did not need to raise rates to increase wages. Taylor used Brandeis's term in the title of his monograph The Principles of Scientific Management, published in 1911. The Eastern Rate Case propelled Taylor's ideas to the forefront of the management agenda. Taylor wrote to Brandeis "I have rarely seen a new movement started with such great momentum as you have given this one." Taylor's approach is also often referred to, as Taylor's Principles, or frequently disparagingly, as Taylorism. Taylor's scientific management consisted of four principles:

  1. Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
  2. Scientifically select, train, and develop each employee rather than passively leaving them to train themselves.
  3. Provide "Detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker's discrete task" (Montgomery 1997: 250).
  4. Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks.

Managers and workers

Taylor had very precise ideas about how to introduce his system:

It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.[9]

Workers were supposed to be incapable of understanding what they were doing. According to Taylor this was true even for rather simple tasks.

'I can say, without the slightest hesitation,' Taylor told a congressional committee, 'that the science of handling pig-iron is so great that the man who is ... physically able to handle pig-iron and is sufficiently phlegmatic and stupid to choose this for his occupation is rarely able to comprehend the science of handling pig-iron.[10]

The introduction of his system was often resented by workers and provoked numerous strikes. The strike at Watertown Arsenal led to the congressional investigation in 1912. Taylor believed the labourer was worthy of his hire, and pay was linked to productivity. His workers were able to earn substantially more than those in similar industries and this earned him enemies among the owners of factories where scientific management was not in use.

Propaganda techniques

Taylor promised to reconcile labor and capital.

With the triumph of scientific management, unions would have nothing left to do, and they would have been cleansed of their most evil feature: the restriction of output. To underscore this idea, Taylor fashioned the myth that 'there has never been a strike of men working under scientific management', trying to give it credibility by constant repetition. In similar fashion he incessantly linked his proposals to shorter hours of work, without bothering to produce evidence of "Taylorized" firms that reduced working hours, and he revised his famous tale of Schmidt carrying pig iron at Bethlehem Steel at least three times, obscuring some aspects of his study and stressing others, so that each successive version made Schmidt's exertions more impressive, more voluntary and more rewarding to him than the last. Unlike [Harrington] Emerson, Taylor was not a charlatan, but his ideological message required the suppression of all evidence of worker's dissent, of coercion, or of any human motives or aspirations other than those his vision of progress could encompass.[11]

Management theory

Taylor thought that by analyzing work, the "One Best Way" to do it would be found. He is most remembered for developing the time and motion study. He would break a job into its component parts and measure each to the hundredth of a minute. One of his most famous studies involved shovels. He noticed that workers used the same shovel for all materials. He determined that the most effective load was 21½ lb, and found or designed shovels that for each material would scoop up that amount. He was generally unsuccessful in getting his concepts applied and was dismissed from Bethlehem Steel. It was largely through the efforts of his disciples (most notably H.L. Gantt) that industry came to implement his ideas. Nevertheless, the book he wrote after parting company with Bethlehem Steel, Shop Management, sold well.

Relations with ASME

Taylor was president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) from 1906 to 1907. While president, he tried to implement his system into the management of the ASME but was met with much resistance. He was only able to reorganize the publications department and then only partially. He also forced out the ASME's long-time secretary, Morris L. Cooke, and replaced him with Calvin W. Rice. His tenure as president was trouble-ridden and marked the beginning of a period of internal dissension within the ASME during the Progressive Age.[12]

In 1912, Taylor collected a number of his articles into a book-length manuscript which he submitted to the ASME for publication. The ASME formed an ad hoc committee to review the text. The committee included Taylor allies such as James Mapes Dodge and Henry R. Towne. The committee delegated the report to the editor of the American Machinist, Leon P. Alford. Alford was a critic of the Taylor system and the report was negative. The committee modified the report slightly, but accepted Alford's recommendation not to publish Taylor's book. Taylor angrily withdrew the book and published Principles without ASME approval.[13]

Patents

Taylor authored 42 patents.[14]

Taylor's influence

United States

  • Carl Barth helped Taylor to develop speed-and-feed-calculating slide rules to a previously unknown level of usefulness. Similar aids are still used in machine shops today. Barth became an early consultant on scientific management and later taught at Harvard.
  • H. L. Gantt developed the Gantt chart, a visual aid for scheduling tasks and displaying the flow of work.
  • Harrington Emerson introduced scientific management to the railroad industry, and proposed the dichotomy of staff versus line employees, with the former advising the latter.
  • Morris Cooke adapted scientific management to educational and municipal organizations.
  • Hugo Münsterberg created industrial psychology.
  • Lillian Gilbreth introduced psychology to management studies.
  • Frank Gilbreth (husband of Lillian) discovered scientific management while working in the construction industry, eventually developing motion studies independently of Taylor. These logically complemented Taylor's time studies, as time and motion are two sides of the efficiency improvement coin. The two fields eventually became time and motion study.
  • Harvard University, one of the first American universities to offer a graduate degree in business management in 1908, based its first-year curriculum on Taylor's scientific management.
  • Harlow S. Person, as dean of Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance, promoted the teaching of scientific management.
  • James O. McKinsey, professor of accounting at the University of Chicago and founder of the consulting firm bearing his name, advocated budgets as a means of assuring accountability and of measuring performance.

France

In France, Le Chatelier translated Taylor's work and introduced scientific management throughout government owned plants during World War I. This influenced the French theorist Henri Fayol, whose 1916 Administration Industrielle et Générale emphasized organizational structure in management. In the classic General and Industrial Management Fayol wrote that "Taylor's approach differs from the one we have outlined in that he examines the firm from the "bottom up." he starts with the most elemental units of activity – the workers' actions – then studies the effects of their actions on productivity, devises new methods for making them more efficient, and applies what he learns at lower levels to the hierarchy..."[15] He suggests that Taylor has staff analysts and advisors working with individuals at lower levels of the organization to identify the ways to improve efficiency. According to Fayol, the approach results in a "negation of the principle of unity of command."[16] Fayol criticized Taylor's functional management in this way: In Shop Management, Taylor said[17] « ... the most marked outward characteristics of functional management lies in the fact that each workman, instead of coming in direct contact with the management at one point only, ... receives his daily orders and help from eight different bosses... these eight were (1) route clerks, (2) instruction card men, (3) cost and time clerks, (4) gang bosses, (5) speed bosses, (6) inspectors, (7) repair bosses, and the (8) shop disciplinarian. »[17] This, Fayol said, was an unworkable situation, and that Taylor must have somehow reconciled the dichotomy in some way not described in Taylor's works.

Switzerland

In Switzerland, the American Edward Albert Filene established the International Management Institute to spread information about management techniques.

USSR

In the USSR, Lenin was very impressed by Taylorism, which he and Stalin sought to incorporate into Soviet manufacturing. Taylorism and the mass production methods of Henry Ford thus became highly influential during the early years of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless "[...] Frederick Taylor's methods have never really taken root in the Soviet Union.".[18] The voluntaristic approach of the Stakhanovite movement in the 1930s of setting individual records was diametrically opposed to Taylor's systematic approach and proved to be counter-productive.[19] The stop-and-go of the production process - workers having nothing to do at the beginning of a month and 'storming' during illegal extra shifts at the end of the month - which prevailed even in the 1980s had nothing to do with the successfully taylorized plants e.g. of Toyota which are characterized by continuous production processes (heijunka) which are continuously improved (kaizen).[20]

"The easy availability of replacement labor, which allowed Taylor to choose only 'first-class men,' was an important condition for his system's success."[21] The situation in the Soviet Union was very different. "Because work is so unrythmic, the rational manager will hire more workers than he would need if supplies were even in order to have enough for storming. Because of the continuing labor shortage, managers are happy to pay needed workers more than the norm, either by issuing false job orders, assigning them to higher skill grades than they deserve on merit criteria, giving them 'loose' piece rates, or making what is supposed to be 'incentive' pay, premia for good work, effectively part of the normal wage. As Mary Mc Auley has suggested under these circumstances piece rates are not an incentive wage, but a way of justifying giving workers whatever they 'should' be getting, no matter what their pay is supposed to be according to the official norms."[22]

Taylor and his theories are also referenced (and put to practice) in the 1921 dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

Criticism of Taylor

Management theorist Henry Mintzberg is highly critical of Taylor’s methods. Mintzberg states that an obsession with efficiency allows measureable benefits to overshadow less quantifiable social benefits completely, and social values get left behind [23]

See also

Publications

Taylor published many articles and short monographs. A selection:

  • 1894. Notes on Belting
  • 1895. A Piece-rate System
  • 1896. The adjustment of wages to efficiency; three papers .... New York, For the American economic association by the Macmillan company; London, S. Sonnenschein & co..
  • 1903. Shop management; a paper read before the American society of mechanical engineers. New York.
  • 1906. On the art of cutting metals, by Mr. F. W. Taylor; an address made at the opening of the annual meeting in New York, December 1906. New York, The American society of mechanical engineers.
  • 1911. Principles of Scientific Management. New York and London, Harper & brothers.
  • 1911. Shop management, by Frederick Winslow Taylor ... with an introduction by Henry R. Towne .... New York, London, Harper & Brothers.
  • 1911. A treatise on concrete, plain and reinforced: materials, construction, and design of concrete and reinforced concrete. (2d ed). New York, J. Wiley & sons.
  • 1912. Concrete costs. New York, J. Wiley & sons.

References

  1. ^ "Frederick Taylor, Early Century Management Consultant". The Wall Street Journal. June 13, 1997. http://www.cftech.com/BrainBank/TRIVIABITS/FredWTaylor.html. Retrieved May 4, 2008.  
  2. ^ Mary Ellen Papesh (February 14, 1998). "Frederick Winslow Taylor". University of St. Francis. http://www.stfrancis.edu/ba/ghkickul/stuwebs/bbios/biograph/fwtaylor.htm. Retrieved May 4, 2008.  
  3. ^ "Frederick Winslow Taylor". Miami University. 2003. http://www.units.muohio.edu/technologyandhumanities/taylor.htm. Retrieved May 4, 2008.  
  4. ^ Kanigel 1997:182-183,199
  5. ^ Charles Custis Harrison (October 8, 1906). "Letter to Taylor". Stevens Institute of Technology Archives. http://stevens.cdmhost.com/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/p4100coll1&CISOPTR=1382&CISOBOX=1&REC=13. Retrieved May 5, 2008.  
  6. ^ "Richard A. D'Aveni On Changing the Conversation: Tuck and the Field of Strategy". Tuck School of Business. http://www.tuck.dartmouth.edu/faculty/publications/voices_rad.html. Retrieved November 22, 2007.  
  7. ^ Drucker 1974: 181
  8. ^ "F. W. Taylor, Expert in Efficiency, Dies". New York Times. March 22, 1915. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0320.html. Retrieved March 14, 2008. "Frederick Winslow Taylor, originator of the modern scientific management movement, died here today from pneumonia. He was 59 years old, and was a former President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers."  
  9. ^ Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management, cited by Montgomery 1989:229, italics with Taylor
  10. ^ Montgomery 1989:251
  11. ^ Montgomery 1989:254

    For the stories about Schmidt Montgomery refers to Charles D. Wrege and Amadeo G. Perroni, "Taylor's Pig Tale: A Historical Analysis of Frederick W. Taylor's Pig-Iron experiments" in: Academy of Management Journal, 17 (March 1974), 6-27

  12. ^ Jaffe 1957:34
  13. ^ Jaffe 1957:36-40; Nelson 1980:181-184)
  14. ^ "F.W. Taylor Collection: Patents". S.C. Williams Library. http://www.lib.stevens-tech.edu/collections/fwtaylor/guide/part1/patents.html. Retrieved May 4, 2008.  
  15. ^ Fayol, 1987, p. 43
  16. ^ Fayol, 1987,p. 44
  17. ^ a b Fayol, 1949, p. 68
  18. ^ Atta 1986: 335
  19. ^ Atta 1986: 331
  20. ^ Head 2005: 38-59
  21. ^ Atta 1986: 329
  22. ^ Atta 1986: 333
  23. ^ Mintzberg 1989:333

Further reading

  • Aitken, Hugh (1960), Taylorism at Watertown Arsenal. Scientific management in action, 1908-1915, Harvard UPCompara
  • Atta, Don Van (1986), “Why Is There No Taylorism in the Soviet Union?” in: Comparative Politics, Vol. 18, No. 3. (Apr., 1986), pp. 327–337
  • Boddy, David (2002). Management: An Introduction (2nd ed. ed.). New York: Pearson Education. ISBN 0-273-65518-3.  
  • Drucker, Peter (1974). Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 1-412-80627-5.  
  • Fayol, H. (1987). General and industrial management: Henri Fayol’s classic revised by Irwin Gray. Belmont, CA: David S. Lake Publishers.
  • Head, Simon (2005), The new ruthless economy. Work and power in the digital age, Oxford University Press, Paperback Edition
  • Jaffe, William (1957). L.P. Alford and the Evolution of Modern Industrial Management. With an introduction by David B. Porter. New York: New York University Press.  
  • Kanigel, Robert (1997). The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-86402-1.  
  • Montgomery, David (1989), The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925, Cambridge University Press, Paperback edition
  • Nelson, Daniel (1980). Frederick W. Taylor and the Rise of Scientific Management. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-08160-5.  
  • Nelson, Daniel (ed.) (1992). A Mental Revolution: Scientific Management Since Taylor. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 0-8142-0567-4.  
  • Taylor, Frederick, Scientific Management (includes "Shop Management" (1903), "The Principles of Scientific Management" (1911) and "Testimony Before the Special House Committee" (1912)), Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0415279836
  • Weisbord, Marvin (2004). Productive Workplaces Revisited (Chapter 2: Scientific Management Revisited: A Tale of Two Taylors; Chapter 3: The Consulting Engineer: Taylor Invents a New Profession.). ISBN 0-7879-7117-0.  
  • Mintzberg, Henry (ed.) (1989). Mintzberg on Management. New York, New York: The Free Press. ISBN 978-1416573197.  

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