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

Author

Listed:
  • Robert Kanigel

    () (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Kanigel, 2005. "The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262612062, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262612062
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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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Taylorism; efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • M11 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Production Management
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility

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