Frederick Winslow Taylor

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Frederick Winslow Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor (born March 20, 1856 in Germantown , Pennsylvania , USA , † March 21, 1915 in Philadelphia ) was an American engineer and is considered one of the founders of ergonomics . Among other things, Scientific Management comes from him and what is known as Taylorism is based on his work . He is also the inventor of high-speed steel , which made him more famous in Europe than his Scientific Management during his lifetime, and an early researcher in the field of machining .


Youth and education

Taylor was the son of the lawyer and wealthy Quaker Franklin Taylor. His mother, Emily Winslow, came from the Delano family, which included Franklin Delano Roosevelt . Even as a child he is said to have attracted attention due to his strong tendency to experiment and analyze very carefully. As a teenager he traveled to Europe for concerts, operas, visits to historical sites and museums. He learned ancient languages, as well as French and German, and was preparing for the entrance exam to Harvard University at Phillips Exeter Academy , which he passed with distinction. However, headaches caused by myopia caused him to abandon the curriculum. Even a later correction of the eyesight with glasses changed nothing in the decision.

Career history

In 1874 he began an apprenticeship as a toolmaker and machinist at the Enterprise Hydraulic Works in Philadelphia . After completing his training, he could not find a suitable job and therefore joined Midvale Steel as a worker in 1878 . Under the special protection of his parents' friend, the president of the steel mill, William Sellers, and finance director EW Clark (whose son Taylor's sister was married), he quickly advanced from henchman to workshop clerk, then to lathe operator, foreman and foreman. In addition to his work, he completed an engineering degree at the Stevens Institute of Technology (1880–1883) via distance learning, which was a novelty at the time. In 1884 he became Chief Engineer at Midvale based on this knowledge.

The first trials of his ambitious rationalization attempts at Midvale not only showed success, they also led to conflicts with management. The propagated by his work office presented the claim to power of management line in question. He left Midvale Steel Mills in 1890 to take over the establishment and operation of paper mills for Manufacturing Investment Co. as general manager . At this company he mainly dealt with accounting issues. In the recession year of 1893, his expiring contract was not extended.

Taylor chose to work as a management consultant . Henry Gantt and Carl Georg Barth were among his employees during the phase . An important task for the rest of the biography was the rationalization of the control of ball bearings at Simonds Rollig Machine Co. in Fitchburg . He succeeded in reducing the daily working hours as well as lengthening and structuring the break times, overall with a reduction in working hours of more than 20%, to improve the productivity of the workers and thus the department on the one hand and, as a result, the wages of the employees on the other hand .

In 1895 he gave his lecture on a piece-wage system at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and became widely known in specialist circles. In 1898 he was asked to apply as a consulting engineer there by a former supervisor at Midvale who had meanwhile moved to Bethlehem Steel . With this assignment, he got the opportunity to carry out extensive time studies and, among other things, to carry out the studies on shoveling and iron loading, which later became particularly well-known, as well as technological experiments that resulted in numerous patents. In 1901 he was dismissed without notice with top management after persistent differences over his proposals for wage increases and changes to the organization of the bookkeeping.

Because of increasing health problems, among other things, Taylor decided in 1901 that "he could no longer afford to work for money." Taylor earned his living from his industrial holdings and the income from the patents he developed, especially the foreign licenses for high-speed steel . For the invention of the Taylor-White process to increase the strength of steel, he received a gold medal at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 . Overall, he developed a large number of patents, especially in steel processing. He withdrew strongly to his newly built house and invited there to lectures which, after the name of the house, became known as the Boxly Talks. He wrote other writings and began teaching his scientific management as a private lecturer at universities and colleges. From 1909 to 1914 he taught Scientific Management at Harvard University . 1906 awarded him the University of Pennsylvania , the honorary doctorate .

Association work and publications

In 1903 and 1911 he wrote his main works “Shop Management” (1903) and “The Principles of Scientific Management” (1911). The Principles of Scientific Management was not only published as a textbook, but was also published in the popular American Magazine with high circulation, making it known to a wide public - and Taylor generally known.

In Shop Management , Taylor still referred to his system as process control . The term Scientific Management was coined later and not by him, but by the lawyer Louis D. Brandeis , who gave a lecture to the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in which he showed that the American railways through the introduction of Scientific Management A nationwide interest in Taylor's teaching had unleashed a nationwide interest in savings of around $ 1 million a day.

Taylor was one of the early members of ASME and was the first to present his works A Piece Rate System and Shop Management at ASME congresses. From 1906 to 1907 he was its president. Around 1908, under the pressure of significantly increased membership numbers, ASME began to concentrate more on purely technical issues. This was expressed, among other things, after a delay of one year, in the decision not to publish Taylor's book Scientific Management . Under the leadership of Frank Bunker Gilbreth , a group split off as the Society to Promote the Science of Management , which became the Taylor Society after Taylor's death . She is considered a role model for the Institute of Industrial Engineers . In Germany, REFA follows this tradition.


Taylor received an honorary degree from the University of Philadelphia in 1906 and an honorary degree in law from Hobart College in Geneva, NY in 1912. Since 1912 he was an elected member of the American Philosophical Society . In 1915 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .

Athletic performance

Taylor won in 1881 at the first American tennis championships ( US National Championships ) together with his compatriot Clarence Clark the title in the men's doubles.


Frederick Taylor

After leaving Bethlehem and through his lecturing and publishing activities, Taylor quickly became known, quickly got a large number of students, but also imitators and critics. Criticism was based in particular on unqualified imitators and an incomplete reception of his thoughts. Attempts to introduce time management in state arms factories led to strikes, and finally in 1911 to the establishment of an investigative committee of the US Congress . In 1914, the Federal Commission on Industrial Relation commissioned an investigation that became known as the Hoxie Commission (after the economist Robert Franklin Hoxie ). As a result, Taylor should work more closely with the unions - which he strongly opposed. The approval of funds for his time studies in state enterprises was refused.

With increasing awareness, Taylor had to defend himself and his thoughts more and more often against insinuations and a superficial reception, especially with reference to the principles of division of labor established by Charles Babbage (see: Taylorism ). This also affected his health, and in 1915 he died of complications from pneumonia.

Taylor is the founder of Scientific Management , also known as Taylorism . His teaching is based on precise time and work studies of people and their implementation in planned processes as well as the careful selection of the person who is suitable for this work. The aim is to determine the “only correct” (“one best way”) sequence of movements for every human activity. His work gave the rationalization movement , which was particularly pronounced in the 1920s, essential impulses.

In Germany, the Reich Committee for Working Time Determination ( REFA ) was founded in 1924 from the Association of German Engineers in order to systematically process Taylor's and other ideas for application in Germany, to coordinate with the collective bargaining parties in order to reduce social unrest and to spread them through teaching.


  • The Relative Value of Water-Gas and Gas from the Siemens Producer for Melting in Open-Hearth Furnance. In: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Ed.): Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers . New York City: The Society, 1886 (Vol. VII). Pp. 669-679.
  • A Piece Rate System: Being a Step Toward Partial solution of the Labor Problem. In: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Ed.): Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers . New York City: The Society, 1895 (Vol. XXIV). Pp. 856-903. (Morgan Witzel: Human resource management. Thoemmes Press, Bristol 2000, ISBN 1-85506-629-7 ).
  • Shop management. In: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Ed.): Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. New York City: The Society, 1903 (Vol. XXVIII). Pp. 1337-1480.
German: The management, especially the workshops. Berlin: Springer, 2007 (reprint of the 3rd, increased edition Berlin: 1914; 2nd, unchanged, new edition 1919.). - ISBN 3-540-72147-9 .
  • On the Art of Cutting Metals. In: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Ed.): Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers . New York City: The Society, 1906/7 (Vol. XXIV). Pp. 31-280, 281-350.
German: About turning work and tool steels. Berlin: Springer, 1908 (Authorized by Adolf Wallichs ).
  • The principles of scientific management. London: Harper & Brothers, 1911 (Cosimo, New York 2006, ISBN 1-59605-889-7 ).
German: The principles of scientific management . Paderborn: Salzwasser, 2011. - ISBN 978-3-86195-713-3 .
  • The principles of scientific management: The Principles of Scientific Management. Publisher: VDM Verlag Dr. Miller; Edition: 1 (April 19, 2004) ISBN 978-3-9367-5565-7
  • A treatise on concrete, plain and reinforced: materials, construction and design of concrete and reinforced concrete. New York: Wiley, 1912 (With Sanford E. Thompson).
  • Concrete Costs: tables and recommendations for estimating the time and cost of labor operations in concrete construction and for introducing economical methods of management. New York: Wiley, 1912 (with Sandford E. Thompson).


  • Harry Braverman : Working in the modern production process. 2nd edition, Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-593-32699-X . (detailed critical examination of Taylor and his students)
  • Frank Barkley Copley: Frederick W. Taylor. Father of Scientific Management. Harper and Brothers, New York 1923. (Vol. 1, 2.) / reprinted: Routledge, London 1993, ISBN 0-415-09253-1 . (detailed biography)
  • Eduard Gaugler (Eds.): Taylor, Frederick Winslow. The principles of scientific management. Vademecum on the classic in scientific management. Publishing house economy and finance, Düsseldorf 1996, ISBN 3-87881-102-0 . (on meaning and aftermath, myth and reality, influence on theory and practice in Japan, biography)
  • Walter Hebeisen: FW Taylor and Taylorism. About the work and teaching of Taylor and the criticism of Taylorism. vdf, Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-7281-2521-0 . (Current meta-analysis of the literature on Scientific Management and comparison with contemporary writings and Taylor's work itself)
  • Robert Kanigel: The one best way. Frederick Winslow Taylor and the enigma of efficiency. 1. paperback edition, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA) 2005, ISBN 0-262-61206-2 . (Biography)

Web links

Wikisource: Frederick Winslow Taylor  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Frederick Winslow Taylor  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Midvale Steel in the English language Wikipedia.
  2. ^ Hebeisen, Walter: FW Taylor and Taylorism: on the work and teaching of Taylor and the criticism of Taylorism. Zurich: vdf, 1999. - ISBN 3-7281-2521-0 . P. 179.
  3. ^ Copley, Frank Barkley: Frederick W. Taylor: father of scientific management . New York: Harper and Brothers, 1923 (Vol. 1). S. XVIII. (Reprinted in London: Routledge, 1993. ISBN 0-415-09253-1 ).
  4. Sanders, Karin; Kianty, Andrea: Organizational Theories . Wiesbaden: VS, 2006. - ISBN 3-531-14718-8 . P. 44.
  5. American Magazine in the English language Wikipedia.
  6. ^ Hebeisen, Walter: FW Taylor and Taylorism: on the work and teaching of Taylor and the criticism of Taylorism. Zurich: vdf, 1999. - ISBN 3-7281-2521-0 . P. 181.
  7. ^ Institute of Industrial Engineers in the English language Wikipedia.
  8. ^ Lohmann, Martin : On the biography of Fredrick W. Taylor . In: Gaugler, Eduard (Ed.): Taylor, Frederick Winslow: The principles of scientific management; Vademecum on the classic in scientific management . Düsseldorf: Verlag Wirtschaft und Finanz, 1996. - ISBN 3-87881-102-0 . Pp. 104 and 107
  9. ^ Member History: Frederick W. Taylor. American Philosophical Society, accessed April 2, 2018 .
  10. Book of Members 1780 – present, Chapter T. (PDF; 432 kB) In: American Academy of Arts and Sciences ( Retrieved April 2, 2018 .
  11. ^ OV: Obituary: FW Taylor, Expert in Efficiency, Dies . In: The New York Times , (March 22, 1915). Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  12. ^ Robert Franklin Hoxie: Scientific management and labor. Appleton, New York 1915. In Germany in particular, care must be taken not to confuse the book with John P. Frey's Scientific management and labor from 1918. Frey was the union representative on the Hoxie Commission and what he said is his own personal opinion. Unlike the Hoxie Report itself, however, Frey's book was published in German and is therefore easily mistaken for the original report in Germany (cf. Walter Hebeisen: FW Taylor und der Taylorismus. On the work and teaching of Taylor and the criticism of Taylorism . vdf, Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-7281-2521-0 , p. 116.)