- Scientific management is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes to management. Scientific management is sometimes known as Taylorism after its pioneer, Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor began the theory's development in the United States during the 1880s and 1890s within manufacturing industries, especially steel. Its peak of influence came in the 1910s; Taylor died in 1915 and by the 1920s, scientific management was still influential but had entered into competition and syncretism with opposing or complementary ideas. Although scientific management as a distinct theory or school of thought was obsolete by the 1930s, most of its themes are still important parts of industrial engineering and management today. These include: analysis; synthesis; logic; rationality; empiricism; work ethic; efficiency and elimination of waste; standardization of best practices; disdain for tradition preserved merely for its own sake or to protect the social status of particular workers with particular skill sets; the transformation of craft production into mass production; and knowledge transfer between workers and from workers into tools, processes, and documentation. (en)
- Owing to [application of "scientific management"] in part in government arsenals, and a strike by the union molders against some of its features as they were introduced in the foundry at the Watertown Arsenal, "scientific management" received much publicity. The House of Representatives appointed a committee, consisting of William B. Wilson, William C. Redfield and John Q. Tilson to investigate the system as it had been applied in the Watertown Arsenal. In its report to Congress this committee sustained Labor's contention that the system forced abnormally high speed upon workmen, that its disciplinary features were arbitrary and harsh, and that the use of a stop-watch and the payment of a bonus were injurious to the worker's manhood and welfare. At a succeeding session of Congress a measure [HR 8665 by Clyde Howard Tavenner] was passed which prohibited the further use of the stop-watch and the payment of a premium or bonus to workmen in government establishments. — John P. Frey. "Scientific Management and Labor". The American Federationist. XXII : 257 (en)
- TRADE UNION OBJECTIONS TO SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT: ...It intensifies the modern tendency toward specialization of the work and the task... displaces skilled workers and... weakens the bargaining strength of the workers through specialization of the task and the destruction of craft skill.
...leads to over-production and the increase of unemployment... looks upon the worker as a mere instrument of production and reduces him to a semi-automatic attachment to the machine or tool... tends to undermine the worker's health, shortens his period of industrial activity and earning power, and brings on premature old age. — Scientific Management and Labor, Robert F. Hoxie, 1915 report to the Commission on Industrial Relations (en)