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Pre Scientific Management

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Mar 31st, 2012
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At about the time of the American Revolution, another revolution was taking place in the practice and management of work, The INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION as we call it today, resulted from a series of events that occurred in a relatively short period of time. It is perhaps best dated with the years 1776, a time that marks the birth of American democracy.

The basic change was the transfer of work skills from craft-workers to machines. Before the Industrial Revolution, skilled work was performed by craft workers who aided by relatively simple tools, produced on entire good such as watch, pair of shoes or a gun. These workers sold their goods directly to individual consumers. The Industrial Revolution changed this pattern which had endured for centuries. Eventually, automated machines were developed that made even an operator unnecessary. The new inventions resulted in an enormous increase in productivity and subsequently lower prices.

Many of today’s industrial giants can trace their origins to this period. In 1873 Andrew Camegic began what was to become United States Steel. In 1879, John. D. Rockefeller, Sr.Hanry ford established Standard Oil Company Henry Ford, Sir Formed Ford Motor Company in 1903 and William C. Durant combined Buck, Oldsmobile and Cadillac with some twenty other automobile companies to form General Motors between 1903 and 1910. As these end other industrial empire’s developed, the nature of modem management was further change.

• HENRY R. TO WNE: [A Milestone]

Truly revolutionary ideas often sound surprisingly self-evident a few decades after they are first proposed. The thought that management was a subject worthy of study was also considered revolutionary in the late 1800s. It was commonly believed by owners and managers of the day that their knowledge was unique to certain tasks and specific industries. In other words, knowledge was to be passed on more through experience and tradition than by formal study.

The man who first challenged this idea was HENRY R. TOWNE, co-founder and president of Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company. In 1886 he presented a paper called “The Engineer as an Economist”, at a meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In the paper he argued that management, as a field of study was equal in importance to engineering. He observed that the management of work was often wholly unorganized, had no medium for the exchange of experience, and was without professional associations. He urged the ASME to “remedy” this situation. Towne’s paper is the milestone most frequently referred to as the beginning of a search for a science of management.

Towne’s “remedy” as it subsequently emerged, involved five sequential and overlapping stages.

i. Accumulation of all knowledge pertaining to machines and human work.

ii. Distillation of this knowledge into applicable laws and formulas.

iii. ‘Scientific” establishment of optimum performance standards for machines and workers.

iv. Transfer of this information through a reorganization of human and mechanical production processes.

v. Establishment of cooperation between labor and management.

ASME president in 1889 and 1890 and co-founder of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Towne’s influence was far-reaching. He was unique in possessing a rare combination of engineering ability and managerial capacity.

Major Movements in the Evolution of Management Thought

Pre-Scientific                     Scientific                              Administrative                  Human Relation

Management                   Management                    Management                    Management

(1776-1886)                       (1898- Present)                 (1916-Present)                  (1927-Present)


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