A Brief History of Scientific Management

Scientific management, or Taylorism, has been considered a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Improving the efficiency of the economy, most particularly labor productivity, was its original main objective. Taylorism was cutting edge – applying science to the processes of engineering management. Frederick Winslow Taylor seriously worked on cultivating to the processes in the 1880s and 1890s focusing on the manufacturing industries.

The publication The Principles of Scientific Management is a work from the early 1900’s which Taylor wrote. The young engineer is said to have “converted what had been an art into a systematic, teachable approach to the study of work” (Chase, Jacobs & Aquilano, 2006, p. 375).

Taylor’s work concentrated on both workflow processes and improvements in worker production. Prior to Taylor, management was considered to be an art rather than a science.

Decisions were most often made based on custom or a rule-of-thumb rather than on precise principles and procedures based on actual empirical evidence. Scientific management principles of Taylor’s, however, were based on command-and-control theories because (as the engineer) he believed workers needed constant close supervision.

Taylor’s work and development of the four principles of scientific management opened a whole new approach toward management principles. He has always been considered a controversial figure, but his key ideas have stood the test of time. Others continued to build off his work, such as Frank and Lillian Gilbreth best known for the use of motion studies to simplify work.

Taylor’s disciples (such as Henry Gantt) and theorists (such as Max Weber) furthered scientific management. Weber first proposed the idea of bureaucratic organizations and worked to promote fairness instead of favoritism. Although he made significant contributions to the training of workers and the development of their skills and potentials, Gantt is best known for the infamous Gantt chart.

The Gantt chart is widely used today on computer and the internet. A Gantt chart can be used for a variety of purposes in a variety of ways and can appear in a variety of forms. They can be very useful for organizing goals over time, managing small projects, tracking project schedules, and much more. In addition to being able to create Gantt charts in EXCEL, there are free online tools with Gantt charts, such as:

OpenProj – Project Management
Tom’s Planner

There is even a free Google Chrome add-on called Smartsheet Project Management with collaborative worksheets and interactive Gantt. There is a video on YouTube about Smartsheet Project Management; and, this tool can be used within Google Docs and Google Drive.

In conclusion, the history of scientific management has not had the final chapter written. At SA4i, we do not endorse using an outdated or ineffective principle, tool, or strategy. However, we are very adept at recognizing where principles, tools and strategies have their origins; and, there are times that a brand new idea, marketing strategy, product, redesign of the workflow process, or technology is needed. There are times that you may just need the proper Gantt chart to get organized. Either way, we can help.

We are very adept regarding business development, goals, and needs – including assessment, listening to your goals, strategic planning and implementation, and management. We improve the performance of your Internet investment through a combination of traditional principles, evolving trends, and cutting edge technologies. SA4i does website design, website development, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, video production, and much more.


Adam Saleh

Adam is a web developer and tech guru at Convergent1.

13831 Northwest Freeway, Ste #300 Houston, TX 77040
Phone: 713-690-0707