Classical Management era

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers was an established professional society by 1886 holding meetings at which leaders presented technical papers. In that year Henry R Towne, President of Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company, presented a paper. The Engineer as an Economist made a plea to the society to recognize management as a separate field of study.

Until his death in 1915, Taylor expounded his new philosophy, stressing that the core of scientific management was not in individual techniques but in the new attitude toward managing a business enterprise. The essence of scientific management was in four general areas:

1. The discovery, through use of the scientific method, of basic elements of man’s work to replace rules of thumb.

2. The identification of management’s function of planning work instead of allowing workmen to choose their own methods.

3. The selection and training of workers and the development of cooperation, instead of encouraging individualistic efforts by employees.

4. The division of work between management and the workers so that each would perform their duties for which they are best fitted with the resultant increase in efficiency.

Scientific management was an innovation and generated tremendous opposition. During Taylor’s lifetime and in spite of the support of such others leaders as Louis Brandeis, James Dodge, and Henry Towne, opposition to change retarded the spread of its basic ideas. Public opposition was demonstrated before special Congressional committee hearings in 1912. At these hearings, Taylor’s testimony in defense of his ideas contained some of the most lucid explanations of the central ideas to this stage of management as a separate and identifiable discipline.

Taylor was a major contributor to scientific management, but by no means was he alone. Henry L Gantt a contemporary and associate of Taylor joined in the attack on existing management practices and emphasized the psychology of the worker and the importance of morale in production. Gantt devised a wage payment system, which stimulated foremen and workers to strive for improvement in work practices. He developed a charting system for scheduling production that remains the basis for modern scheduling techniques.

Other leaders in the scientific management movement had independently developed improved techniques of management before being influenced by Taylor. Frank Gilbreth made studies in applying principles of motion economy and is considered to be the originator of motion study. Starting in the construction industry, he revolutionized the techniques of bricklaying and later applied his new approach in a variety of industries. His wife, Lillian Gilbreth, not only helped her husband develop his ideas but also contributed to a new dimension in her writings on the psychology of management. Both Gilberths took an analytical approach and stressed the importance of giving attention to minute details of work. This approach was to become an important characteristic of all scientific management.

Morris L Cooke and Harrington Emerson were among the founders of scientific management and are important for their applications of the philosophy to a wider group of activities. Cooke demonstrated the applicability of scientific management in non-industrial fields, especially in university operations and city management. Emerson concentrated on introducing new ideas to Santa Fe Railroad and later developed what he termed twelve principles of efficiency.