Frederick Winslow Taylor Criticism - Essay

Edgar V. O'Daniel (essay date 1912)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Paying for Alaska," in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. XXVII, No. 3, September, 1912, pp. 534-536.

[In the following essay, O'Daniel reviews the first edition of The Principles of Scientific Management.]

In his little book [The Principles of Scientific Management], which grew out of a paper prepared for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Mr. Taylor discusses, in a general way, the principles of task management, or, to put it in the words commonly used to describe the author's theme, "efficiency engineering." Although he gives a number of examples of the actual working of the new type of management, he confines his attention for the...

(The entire section is 841 words.)

Milton J. Nadworny (essay date 1955)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Scientific Management and the Unions 1900-1932: A Historical Analysis, Harvard University Press, 1955, 187 p.

[In the following excerpt from his book Scientific Management and the Unions, Nadworny traces the history of theories of scientific management from their roots after the Civil War to the introduction of Taylor's system to American industry and discusses the adaptation of Taylor's methods by his successors, as well as union opposition to scientific management.]


Scientific management was fashioned during the post-Civil War era, when business enterprises were expanding in size and scope, and...

(The entire section is 11033 words.)

Milton J. Nadworny (essay date 1957)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Frederick Taylor and Frank Gilbreth: Competition in Scientific Management," in Business History Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, Spring, 1957, pp. 23-34.

[In the following essay, Nadworny explains the antagonistic split in the scientific management movement between Taylorites, who favored a stop-watch method of measurement, and adherents to Frank Gilbreth's micromotion technique.]

A century has elapsed since the birth of Frederick W. Taylor, the so-called "Father of Scientific Management," and it has been almost seventy-five years since Taylor began to evolve his management system. Note has been taken, and will continue to be taken, of Taylor's contributions to...

(The entire section is 3975 words.)

L. Urwick and E. F. L. Brech (essay date 1959)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Frederick Winslow Taylor," in The Making of Scientific Management Volume I: Thirteen Pioneers, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1959, pp. 28-38.

[In the following essay, Urwick and Brech discuss Taylor's life and work.]

Almost half a century after Charles Babbage, the mathematician and philosopher, observing British industry from without, had propounded the essential principles of the scientific approach to business management, F. W. Taylor, an American engineer, arrived at precisely similar conclusions as the hard-won prize of practical experience. There was no plagiarism in Taylor. He never read Babbage. His ideas were his own, wrung by sheer force of...

(The entire section is 3294 words.)

L. Urwick and E. F. L. Brech (essay date 1959)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Acceptance of F. W. Taylor by British Industry (1895-1915)," in The Making of Scientific Management Volume II: Management of the British Industry, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1959, pp. 88-107.

[In the following essay, Urwick and Brech discuss the application of scientific management in British industry, noting opposition to the movement that considered its principles "hideous" and "dehumanising."]

It is remarkable that F. W. Taylor, considered as a pioneer of scientific management, aroused comparatively little practical interest among contemporary British industrial circles, despite the fact that the period was one in which the engineers in this...

(The entire section is 6198 words.)

Hugh G. J. Aitken (essay date 1960)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Taylor System," in Taylorism at Watertown Arsenal: Scientific Management in Action 1908-1915, Harvard University Press, 1960, pp. 13-48.

[In the following essay, Aitken provides a detailed analysis of Taylor's system.]

Questioned by Colonel Wheeler about his explanation of the molders' strike, John Frey admitted that workmen sometimes seemed to behave irrationally. "I know," he said, "the fiendish deviltry with which we throw down our things and go out on strike. They deliberately go in in the morning, and say 'Boys, we'll say "No" to this,' and then they take their time, putting away their things or not, and taking their time about things as they go out."...

(The entire section is 11636 words.)

Samuel Haber (essay date 1964)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Efficiency and Uplift: Scientific Management in the Progressive Era 1890-1920, The University of Chicago Press, 1964, 181 p.

[In the following excerpt from his book Efficiency and Uplift, Haber examines Taylor's early leanings toward scientific management, including early events in his life that may have led to his later obsession with systematizing, and explains the practical application of Taylor's system in factories.]


At the summer meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 189S, a small, thin, pernickety engineer named Frederick Winslow Taylor read a paper entitled, "A...

(The entire section is 7996 words.)

Louis W. Fry (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Maligned F. W. Taylor: A Reply to His Many Critics," in The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 1, No. 3, July, 1976, pp. 124-129.

[In the following essay, Fry attempts to answer Taylor's critics, conceding that Taylor's means were not always desirable, but concluding that his goals were indispensible to modern organizational behavior theory.]

Frederick W. Taylor has been criticized and praised by theorists from various schools of organizational thought. Some say his view of man is too simplistic, as are his theories for solving the interaction of man with organization. Others state that he laid the very foundation for the vastly improved productivity of...

(The entire section is 2695 words.)

Peter F. Drucker (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Coming Rediscovery of Scientific Management," in Toward the Next Economics and Other Essays, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1981, pp. 96-106.

[In the following essay, originally published in The Conference Board Record in 1976, Drucker advocates the application of Taylor's principles to what Drucker calls "knowledge work. "]

Everybody "knows" the following "facts" about Frederick Winslow Taylor: His aim was "efficiency," which meant reducing costs and increasing profits. He believed that workers responded primarily to economic incentives. He invented the "speed-up" and the assembly line. He saw only the individual worker, and not the work group. He...

(The entire section is 3284 words.)

Edwin A. Locke (essay date 1982)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Ideas of Frederick W. Taylor: An Evaluation," in The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 7, No. 1, January, 1982, pp. 14-24.

[In the following essay, Locke defends Taylor's methods, maintaining that Taylor produced the "most objectively valid" theories in modem thought.]

Few management theorists have been more persistently criticized than has Frederick W. Taylor, the founder of scientific management, despite his being widely recognized as a key figure in the history of management thought (Wren, 1979). Taylor and scientific management frequently were attacked in his own lifetime, prompting, among other responses, Gilbreth's Primer (Gilbreth,...

(The entire section is 6754 words.)

Stephen Wood and John Kelly (essay date 1982)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Taylorism, Responsible Autonomy and Management Strategy," in On Work: Historical, Comparative and Theoretical Approaches, edited by R. E. Paul, Basil Blackwell, 1988, pp. 173-89.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1982, Wood and Kelly argue in favor of a conservative reading and application of Taylor's method, keeping in mind that Taylor's principles may not be universally practical or desirable.]

A curious feature of much previous discussion of Braverman's Labor and Monopoly Capitalism (1974) has been a marked tendency to portray capitalist management as virtually omniscient. The implementation of management strategy is therefore...

(The entire section is 6904 words.)

Hindy Lauer Schachter (essay date 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Frederick Taylor and the Public Administration Community: A Reevaluation, State University of New York Press, 1989, 175 p.

[In the following excerpt from his book Frederick Taylor and the Public Administration Community, Schachter addresses the major points of Taylor's method as laid out in The Principles of Scientific Management and Shop Management and recounts the reaction to Taylor's ideas during his lifetime.]


Shop Management and The Principles of Scientific Management are the two works that embody Taylor's mature ideas on organizational improvement and...

(The entire section is 11848 words.)

Terry Mulcaire (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Progressive Visions of War in 'The Red Badge of Courage' and 'The Principles of Scientific Management'," in American Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 1, March, 1991, pp. 46-72.

[In the following essay, Mulcaire argues that Stephen Crane's depiction of war in The Red Badge of Courage as mechanical and systematic indicates the widespread acceptance at the end of the nineteenth century of Taylor's principles.]

As Henry Fleming turns his back on war at the end of The Red Badge of Courage (1895), Stephen Crane describes Henry's retreat with a biblical allusion that collapses the difference between war and peace. "He came from hot plowshares to prospects of...

(The entire section is 9283 words.)

George Will (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Faster Mousetrap," in The New York Times Book Review, June 15, 1997, p. 10.

[In the following essay, Will reviews The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency.]

In November 1910 some railroads were trying to prove, as it had recently become their burden to do, that they merited Federal permission for rate increases. Representing opponents was Louis Brandeis, the future Justice, who questioned railroad officials about their costs. Were new efficiencies in operations an alternative to rate increases? No, said the railroaders. How did they know? Brandeis asked. Trust us, they said.

But Brandeis was in no mood to trust...

(The entire section is 1694 words.)