Labor at the Taylor Society: Scientific management and a proactive approach to increase diversity for effective problem solving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to add information on which voices contributed to the scientific management narrative from Frederick Taylor’s 1915 death to the early 1930s with a focus on the role of labor union representatives. The strategy is to analyze the role of labor representatives as participants in Taylor Society meetings and publications. The research contributes to the management history literature by bolstering the picture of the Taylor Society as a liberal, pro-labor organization. The research also shows that the Taylor Society was an early proponent of the idea that assembling diverse groups for dialogue improves organizational problem-solving. Design/methodology/approach: The research analyzes historical sources including all issues of the Society’s bulletin from 1914 to 1933 and unpublished material from the Morris Cooke papers and the papers in the Frederick Taylor archive at Stevens Institute of Technology. Findings: Taylor Society leaders took a proactive view of encouraging labor voices to join managers and academics in society meetings. At the beginning, few labor leaders spoke at the society, and often, at least some of their comments were critical of scientific management. By 1925, labor participation increased with William Green, American Federation of Labor (AFL) president appearing several times. In addition, labor leaders became positively inclined toward having scientific management experts working in industrial settings. The labor leaders who participated at Taylor Society meetings in the late 1920s and early 1930s considered scientific management insights as useful for labor and wanted to cooperate with the researchers. Originality/value: The paper augments a revisionist view of interwar scientific management as progressive and pro-labor, a contested point in the management history literature. The research also shows how the Taylor Society was an early proponent of the importance of diversity, at least in the areas of gender and socioeconomic status, for effective problem-solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-19
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Management History
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Keywords

  • Frederick Taylor
  • Labour
  • Scientific management
  • Taylor society
  • Taylorism

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Labor at the Taylor Society: Scientific management and a proactive approach to increase diversity for effective problem solving'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this