The Industrial Revolution that started with the development
of steam power and the creation of large factories in the late
Eighteenth Century lead to great changes in the production of
textiles and other products. The factories that evolved, created
tremendous challenges to organization and management that had
not been confronted before. Managing these new factories and
later new entities like railroads with the requirement of managing
large flows of material, people, and information over large
distances created the need for some methods for dealing with
the new management issues.
The most important of those who began to create a science of
management was Frederic Winslow Taylor, (1856-1915). Taylor
was one of the first to attempt to systematically analyze human
behavior at work. His model was the machine with its cheap,
interchangeable parts, each of which does one specific function.
Taylor attempted to do to complex organizations what engineers
had done to machines and this involved making individuals into
the equivalent of machine parts. Just as machine parts were
easily interchangeable, cheap, and passive, so too should the
human parts be the same in the Machine model of organizations.
This involved breaking down each task to its smallest unit
and to figure out the one best way to do each job. Then the
engineer, after analyzing the job should teach it to the worker
and make sure the worker does only those motions essential to
the task.. Taylor attempted to make a science for each element
of work and restrict behavioral alternatives facing worker.
Taylor looked at interaction of human characteristics, social
environment, task, and physical environment, capacity, speed,
durability, and cost. The overall goal was to remove human variability.
The results were profound. Productivity under Taylorism went
up dramatically. New departments arose such as industrial engineering,
personnel, and quality control. There was also growth in middle
management as there evolved a separation of planning from operations.
Rational rules replaced trial and error; management became formalized
and efficiency increased. Of course, this did not come about
without resistance. First the old line managers resisted the
notion that management was a science to be studied not something
one was born with (or inherited). Then of course, many workers
resisted what some considered the "dehumanization of work."
To be fair, Taylor also studied issues such as fatigue and safety
and urged management to study the relationship between work
breaks, and the length of the work day and productivity and
convinced many companies that the careful introduction of breaks
and a shorter day could increase productivity. Nevertheless,
the industrial engineer with his stop watch and clip-board,
standing over you measuring each little part of the job and
one's movements became a hated figure and lead to much sabotage
and group resistance.
The core elements of scientific management remain popular today.
While a picture of a factory around 1900 might look like something
out of Dickens, one should not think the core concepts of scientific
management have been abandoned. They haven't. They have merely
been modified and updated.
Background of Organizational Behavior, prepared by Professor
Edward G. Wertheim, College of Business Administration, Northeastern
University, Boston, MA
We can see and feel the waste of material things. Awkward,
inefficient, or ill-directed movements of men, however, leave
nothing visible or tangible behind them. Their appreciation
calls for an act of memory, an effort of the imagination. And
for this reason, even though our daily loss from this source
is greater than from our waste of material things, the one has
stirred us deeply, while the other has moved us but little.
What we are all looking for, however, is the readymade, competent
man; the man whom some one else has trained. It is only when
we fully realize that our duty, as well as our opportunity,
lies in systematically cooperating to train and to make this
competent man, instead of in hunting for a man whom some one
else has trained, that we shall be on the road to national efficiency.
Management, The Principles of Scientific Management and Testimony
Before the Special House Committee, by Frederick Winslow
Taylor, Harper & Row, 191. Source: Encyclopedia