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Which clippings match 'Fordism' keyword pg.1 of 1
28 OCTOBER 2014

Fredrick Winslow Taylor and the Myth of Efficiency

"[Fredrick Winslow] Taylor sought to precisely measure the movements of factory workers and their timings to make them as efficient as humanly possible. This made him beloved by executives and detested on the factory floor, and it also made him one of the world's first management consultants. In a recent article in The New Yorker, 'Not So Fast,' the historian Jill Lepore takes a hard look at Taylor and his claims for scientific management. According to new research, he was a better salesman than consultant. Many of his facts were made up, and most of his results never materialized. We now know that Lillian Gilbreth, an early proponent of scientific management, had serious doubts about the movement she helped proselytize.

All this is important because Taylor, with his system of scientific management, was the father of efficiency. From scientific management we get the lust for efficiency in business. It became part of the dogma of business schools, almost none of which existed before his time. Business schools from their earliest days have promoted efficiency and the handling of business as something like industrial engineering. From operations to finance, from marketing to sales, business school education has focused on narrowing problems, identifying resources and working to get the most out of the least."

(Adam Hartung, 16 October 2009, Forbes)



20th century • Adam Hartung • business education • business efficiency • business growth • business inertia • business leaders • business leadership • business management • business school education • business schools • Clayton Christensencompetitive advantagecost-cutting • cultural myth • customer demand • customer satisfactiondehumanisationdisruptive innovationdogmaefficiency • efficiency in business • factory floor • factory workerForbesFordismFrederick TaylorGary Hamel • history of technology • ideationincremental improvementsincremental innovationindustrial engineering • innovation resources • Jill Lepore • legacy businesses • Lillian Gilbrethman machine • management consultant • manufacturingmanufacturing industries • measuring movement • order and control • organisation leadership • organisational problems • price wars • products and services • Rakesh Khurana • scientific management • taylorism • The New Yorkerwaste prevention • what organisations do


Simon Perkins
18 JANUARY 2009

smaller firms catering to increasingly segmented markets

"The recent era of turbulent technology, heralded by the microchip/computer revolution has been market–friendly in a way the older technologies were not. What seems to have happened is that the new technologies, combined with the recession of the early 1980s, have removed 'barriers to entry' in a number of occupations by reducing the advantages of 'economies of scale'. The newspaper industry is a notable example: the new computer–operated photo–composition methods should reduce the relative advantage of large circulation papers, making possible a proliferation of new titles. Another notable effect of the new technology has been felt in financial markets. Data, especially for this country, are very hard to obtain, but the idea that we are moving from a 'Fordist' or mass production/mass consumption era into one in which smaller firms will cater to increasingly segmented markets appears to have some substance. Not only have large firms been decentralising their operations and dispersing their plant so that most workers now work in units of under 200 employees, but there has been a striking growth in the number of small manufacturing and service establishments, together with an increase of over one million in the number of self–employed persons between 1979 and 1988. The British economy is becoming more miniaturised, spacially dispersed, and organisationally decentralised; on the other hand, the very largest companies seem to be getting bigger, because more international. Much more research is needed into this whole question. What is apparent is that the old pluralist and corporatist view, which took for granted the need for bargained relationships between large blocs of economic power, may need to be drastically revised."
(Robert Skidelsky, 1989)

[Part of a broader discussion on the emergence of the 'social market economy'.]


arriers to entry • changedecentralisedeconomic recessioneconomicseconomies of scaleeconomyFordismGermanyJohn Maynard Keynesmarket segmentationsocial change • social market economy • soziale marktwirtschaft • transformationUK


Simon Perkins

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