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The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency

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  • Robert Kanigel

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    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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    Abstract

    Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was the first efficiency expert, the original time-and-motion man -- the father of scientific management, the inventor of a system that became known, inevitably enough, as Taylorism. "In the past the man has been first. In the future the System will be first," he predicted boldly, and accurately. Taylor bequeathed to us, writes Robert Kanigel in this definitive biography, a clockwork world of tasks timed to the hundredth of a minute. Taylor helped instill in us the obsession with time, order, productivity, and efficiency that marks our age. His influence can be seen in factories, schools, offices, hospitals, libraries, even kitchen design. At the peak of his celebrity in the early twentieth century, Taylor gave lectures around the country and was as famous as Edison or Ford. To organized labor, he was a slave driver; to the bosses, he was an eccentric and a radical. To himself, he was a misunderstood visionary whose "one best way" would bring prosperity to worker and boss alike. Robert Kanigel's compelling chronicle takes Taylor from privileged Philadelphia childhood to factory floor to international fame, telling the story of a paradigmatic American figure whose influence would be felt from the New Deal to Soviet Russia and remains pervasive -- even insidious -- today.

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    Bibliographic Info

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    This book is provided by The MIT Press in its series MIT Press Books with number 0262612062 and published in 2005.

    Volume: 1
    Edition: 1
    ISBN: 0-262-61206-2
    Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262612062

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    Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu

    Related research

    Keywords: Taylorism; efficiency;

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    Cited by:
    1. Ganter, Alois & Hecker, Achim, 2014. "Configurational paths to organizational innovation: qualitative comparative analyses of antecedents and contingencies," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 1285-1292.

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