Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 – March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer who was one of the intellectual leaders of the Efficiency Movement. His ideas were highly influential in the Progressive Era (1890s–1920s). Taylor summed up his techniques in his 1911 book, The Principles of Scientific Management, which was voted the most influential management book of the twentieth century by Fellows of the Academy of Management.
His pioneering work with stopwatches in applying engineering principles to the work done on the factory floor was instrumental in the creation and development of the field of industrial engineering.
Taylor’s scientific management consisted of four principles:
- Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
- Scientifically select, train, and develop each employee rather than passively leaving them to train themselves.
- Provide “Detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker’s discrete task”.
- Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks.
Taylor believed in transferring control from workers to management. He set out to increase the distinction between mental (planning work) and manual labor (executing work).
The introduction of his system was often resented by workers and provoked numerous strikes. Taylor believed the worker was worthy of their hire, and pay was linked to productivity. His workers were able to earn substantially more than those under conventional management, and this earned him enemies among the owners of factories where scientific management was not in use.
Taylor thought that by analyzing work, the “one best way” to do it would be found. He is most remembered for developing the stopwatch time study, which, combined with Frank Gilbreth’s motion study methods, later became the field of time and motion study.
Scientific management is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows in order to improve economic efficiency, especially labor productivity, which is often called Taylorism.
- Henry Ford
- Joseph Juran
- Frank Gilbreth
- Joseph Stalin
- Henry Gantt
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)