Frederick Winslow Taylor

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F.W. Taylor (1856-1915).

Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer, one of the first management consultants, and is regarded as the father of scientific management.


  • "I can say, without the slightest hesitation", Taylor told a congressional committee, "that the science of handling pig-iron is so great that the man who is … physically able to handle pig-iron and is sufficiently phlegmatic and stupid to choose this for his occupation is rarely able to comprehend the science of handling pig-iron."
    • Taylor cited in: David Montgomery (1989) The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925. p. 251

Shop Management, 1903[edit]

F.W. Taylor (1903) Shop management; a paper read before the American society of mechanical engineers. New York

  • That there is a difference between the average and the first class man is known to all employers, but that the first class man can do in most cases from two to four times as much is known to few, and is fully realized only by those who have made a thorough and scientific study of the possibilities of men.
    • p. 9
  • The greater part of the systematic soldiering, however, is done by the men with the deliberate object of keeping their employers ignorant of how fast work can be done.
    So universal is soldiering for this purpose, or under any of the ordinary systems of compensating labor, who does not devote a considerable part of his time to studying just how slowly he can work and still convince his employer that he is going at a good pace.
    • p. 14
  • After a workman has had the price per piece of the work he is doing lowered two or three times as a result of his having worked harder and increased his output, he is likely to entirely lose sight of his employer's side of the case and to become imbued with a grim determination to have no more cuts if soldiering can prevent it.
    • p. 15
  • The writer feels that management is also destined to become more of an art, and that many of the, elements which are now believed to be outside the field of exact knowledge will soon be standardized tabulated, accepted, and used, as are now many of the elements of engineering.
    • p. 36

Principles of Scientific Management, 1911[edit]

F.W. Taylor, 1911. Principles of Scientific Management. New York and London, Harper & brothers.

  • In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first. This in no sense, however, implies that great men are not needed. On the contrary, the first object of any good system must be that of developing first-class men
    • p. 2
  • The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.
    • p. 4
  • They [the managers] scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best as he could.
    • p. 36; as cited in
  • Perhaps the most prominent single element in modern scientific management is the task idea. The work of every workman is fully planned out by the management at least one day in advance, and each man receives in most cases complete written instructions, describing in detail the task which he is to accomplish, as well as the means to be used in doing the work. And the work planned in advance in this way constitutes a task which is to be solved, as explained above, not by the workman alone, but in almost all cases by the joint effort of the workman and the management. This task specifies not only what is to be done but how it is to be done and the exact time allowed for doing it.
    • p. 39
  • The labor should include rest breaks so that the worker has time to recover from fatigue. Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type. The man who is mentally alert and intelligent is for this very reason entirely unsuited to what would, for him, be the grinding monotony of work of this character. Therefore the workman who is best suited to handling pig iron is unable to understand the real science of doing this class of work.
    • p. 59
  • It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.
    • p. 64
  • In order to have any hope of obtaining the initiative of his workmen the manager must give some special incentive to his men beyond that which is given to the average of the trade. This incentive can be given in several different ways, as, for example, the hope of rapid promotion or advancement; higher wages, either in the form of generous piecework prices or of a premium or bonus of some kind for good and rapid work; shorter hours of labor; better surroundings and working conditions than are ordinarily given, etc., and, above all, this special incentive should be accompanied by that personal consideration for, and friendly contact with, his workmen which comes only from a genuine and kindly interest in the welfare of those under him.
    • p. 87
  • Broadly speaking, then, the best type of management in ordinary use may be defined as management in which the workmen give their best initiative and in return receive some special incentive from their employers. This type of management will be referred to as the management of “initiative and incentive” in contradistinction to scientific management, or task management, with which it is to be compared.
    • p. 87 (2014 ed.)

About Frederick Winslow Taylor[edit]

  • There is another and higher leadership, that of the intellect, by which the methods and thoughts of one man may affect the whole civilized world. Industrial leaders who have most prominently attracted our attention in the past are those who have, by their inventions or their direction of activities, accumulated large fortunes ; but none of these are as great as the man who by the force of his intellect leads people throughout the civilized world to benefit themselves and others. Such a man was the late Frederick Winslow Taylor who, in his determination to eliminate error and to base our industrial relations on fact, set an example which will have an effect all over the world.
    • Henry L. Gantt (1916), Industrial leadership, New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 27
  • One of the hardest-to-down myths about the evolution of mass production at Ford is one which credits much of the accomplishment to 'scientific management.' No one at Ford—not Mr. Ford, Couzens, Flanders, Wills, Pete Martin, nor I—was acquainted with the theories of the 'father of scientific management,' Frederick W. Taylor. Years later I ran across a quotation from a two-volume book about Taylor by Frank Barkley Copley, who reports a visit Taylor made to Detroit late in 1914, nearly a year after the moving assembly line had been installed at our Highland Park plant. Taylor expressed surprise to find that Detroit industrialists 'had undertaken to install the principles of scientific management without the aid of experts.' To my mind this unconscious admission by an expert is expert testimony on the futility of too great reliance on experts and should forever dispose of the legend that Taylor's ideas had any influence at Ford.
    • Charles E. Sorensen (1956) My Forty Years with Ford, New York, New York, USA: Norton. p. 41
  • Frederick W. Taylor was the first man in recorded history who deemed work deserving of systematic observation and study. On Taylor's 'scientific management' rests, above all, the tremendous surge of affluence in the last seventy-five years which has lifted the working masses in the developed countries well above any level recorded before, even for the well-to-do. Taylor, though the Isaac Newton (or perhaps the Archimedes) of the science of work, laid only first foundations, however. Not much has been added to them since – even though he has been dead all of sixty years.
    • Peter Drucker (1974) Management: tasks, responsibilities, practices. p. 181
  • With the triumph of scientific management, unions would have nothing left to do, and they would have been cleansed of their most evil feature: the restriction of output. To underscore this idea, Taylor fashioned the myth that 'there has never been a strike of men working under scientific management', trying to give it credibility by constant repetition. In similar fashion he incessantly linked his proposals to shorter hours of work, without bothering to produce evidence of "Taylorized" firms that reduced working hours, and he revised his famous tale of Schmidt carrying pig iron at Bethlehem Steel at least three times, obscuring some aspects of his study and stressing others, so that each successive version made Schmidt's exertions more impressive, more voluntary and more rewarding to him than the last. Unlike Harrington Emerson, Taylor was not a charlatan, but his ideological message required the suppression of all evidence of worker's dissent, of coercion, or of any human motives or aspirations other than those his vision of progress could encompass.
    • David Montgomery (1989) The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925. p. 254

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