1900 - 1920s faith in technology, systematization.

"the cult of efficiency" "efficiency craze."


Frederick Winslow Taylor,

"scientific management" or “Taylorism”

born 1859 wealthy Philly family;

laborer Midvale Steel Co. 

age 30, chief engineer at Midvale.

over 50,000 experiments - ways to improve steel-cutting;

variable speed of electric motors, changing feed & speed of alloy cutting tools – “high-speed” steel.

rearranged factory layout.

disturbed by "soldiering" - concluded 2/3rds of time wasted. 1882, experiments with supervising work.

Assumption - all workers basically lazy; money as motivation; "time & motion studies". 

Taylor, "In the past, the man has been first; in the future, the system must be first."

systematic (?) analysis of work process, (for example, shoveling loads of pig-iron);

dramatic increase efficiency – allegedly two to three times more efficient;

"the one best way to do work",

"science of shovelling",

140 men do work previously requiring 600.

Stopwatch – scientific (?) basis for setting piece rates. extra "allowances" of up to 75% of time.

better cost accounting, inventory management, centralized planning of production - "job cards" & "instruction cards" -  reform middle management. 

1911 Principles of Scientific Management_ -, translated into French, German, Russian, Italian, Japanese.


Labor tension;

strike of metal workers 1911 at govt's Watertown Arsenal - petition, "The very unsatisfactory condtiions which have prevailed reached an acute stage this afternoon when a man was seen to use a stop watch on one of the molders.  This we believe to be the limit of our endurance.  it is humiliating to us, who have always tried to give the govt the best that was in us.  This method is un-American in principle."

Congressional investigation,

Taylor trained students - 200 US companies (manufacture, department stores, railroads, banks & construction).

Eastern Rate Case - 1911.



Frank Gilbreth.

Bricklayer - "You ain't smart, you're just too damned lazy to bend over!" - 120 to 350 bricks per hour.

Lillian Gilbreth,

"micromotion".< span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> 

"chronocyclograph&qu ot;,

17 elementary movements called "therbligs";

consultants to industry;

Frank & Lillian Gilbreth 12 children, Cheaper by the Dozen:

"Dad would walk into a factory like the Pierce Arrow auto plant and announce that he could speed up production by one-fourth - and then he'd do it, too.  Dad always practiced what he preached, and it was impossible to tell where his scientific management company ended and his family life began.  Our house was a sort of school for scientific management & elimination of wasted motions.  Dad took moving pictures of us children washing dishes, so he could figure out how we could reduce our motions & hurry through the task.  Dad installed work charts in the bathrooms.  Every child was required to initial the charts in the morning after he had brushed his teeth, taken a bath & made his bed.  At night, each child had to weigh himself, plot the figure on a graph, and initial the work charts again after he had done his homework and brushed his teeth.  It was regimentation, all right - but bear in mind the trouble most parents have in getting just one child off to school, and multiply it by twelve - some regimentation was necessary to prevent bedlam.  Dad even showed us the most efficient way to take a bath - run the soap up one side of your body, down the other, then a few strokes on the front and back, and you're done.  Yes, at home or on the job, Dad was always the efficiency expert.  He buttoned his vest from the bottom up, instead of top down, because bottom up took only three seconds and top down took seven.  For a while, Dad even tried shaving with two razors, but he finally gave that up - he grumbled, ‘I can save 44 seconds, but I wasted two minutes this morning putting this bandage on my throat.’  It wasn't the slashed throat that really bothered him - it was the two minutes."


1908 Penn State Univ. – industrial engineering program.

- personnel management -

Elton Mayo, Western Electric - 1930s "Hawthorne experiments";