Taylor and Scientific Management

F. W. Taylor

Frederick W. Taylor published his paper "A Piece-Rate System" in 1895, proposed elimination of worker "soldiering" and laziness; managers should control the workplace as he had done at Midvale Steel Works after 1878, using timed motion studies, paying workers by the piece rather than by the hour, finding the "one best way' to do work, coordinating supplies and tools from a central office to "rationalize" the factory.

Taylor installed his system at Bethlehem Steel 1898-1901, studied simple job of loading pig iron and need to select proper worker for the job of lifting the 92-lb pig bar, paid Schmidt $1.85 a day rather than $1.15 earning 60% higher wage for loading 380% more pig iron, improved cutting tools with slide rests and with small amounts of tungsten and chromium to remove 300% more metal.

Taylor would be elected president of the ASME in 1906 for his discovery of "high speed steel" and his contribution to the development fo the profession of engineering, represented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers f. 1886.

Louis Brandeis

Louis Brandeis began the efficiency movement in the 1910 Eastern Rate Case, arguing that railroads could save $1 million per day, popularized the term "scientific management"

Taylor published Principles of Scientific Management 1911 and the Taylor Society f. 1912 included his followers: Carl Barth, Morris L. Cooke, Henry Gantt, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth.

Frank Gilbreth was a bricklayer who invented a special waist-high scaffold to prevent wasted motion of bending over, published Field System 1904, became consultant with his wife in 1912, studied individual unnecessary motions called "therbligs" (Gilbreth backwards), used motion picture camera with clock in corner, died 1924 leaving wife and 11 surviving children, Lillian had earned Ph.D. in psychology from Brown in 1915, joined new American Management Association (ASME barred women), wrote Cheaper by the Dozen, became professor at Purdue after 1935.

"Taylorism" influenced Americanization crusade after 1915, to make immigrants conform to middle-class values, with slogan "100% American" adopted from "100% Efficiency."

Building ships for the U.S. Navy at Hog Island, 04/29/1918, U.S. Shipping Board, NA

Elihu Root sought to establish efficiency in government arsenals, many Taylorites worked in the Ordinance Dept.

16 states formed efficiency committees, sought ways to grant more power to government to mandate reforms, put power into hands of skilled experts, or "altruistic expertism," and the term "white collar" came into use 1910-20.

Special agencies created in WWI to solve special problems: Hoover's Food Administration and McAddo's Railroad Board.

Webb-Pomerene Act of 1918 allowed monopolistic combinations in the export trade without fear of antitrust laws.

The Edge Act of 1919 allowed banks to invest in corporations for foreign operations.

By 1919, Taylorism in decline, was opposed by unions, no support for effort to Americanize the lower class.


revised 2/1/07 by Schoenherr | Progressive Era