Peter Drucker on Scientific Management - Industrial Engineering

"Scientific management is our most widely practised personnel management concept" said Peter Drucker in his book The Practice of Management. The concepts of scientific management underlie the actual management of worker and work in American Industry.

"Scientific management is our most widely practised personnel management concept" said Peter Drucker in his book The Practice of Management. The concepts of scientific management underlie the actual management of worker and work in American Industry. The core of scientific management is the organized study of work, the analysis of work into its simplest elements and the systematic improvement or design of each of these elements. Drucker emphasized that scientific management has both basic concepts and easily applicable tools and techniques to carry out it intended job. Its contribution is visible in the form of higher readily measurable output.

Scientific management is a systematic philosophy of worker and work. As long as industrial society endures, we will not forget the insight that human work can be studied systematically, can be analyzed, can be improved by work on its elementary parts. Scientific management was a great liberating and pioneering insight. Without it a real study of human beings at work would not have been possible. Scientific management or industrial engineering has penetrated the entire world. Yet is has been stagnant for a long time. From 1890 to 1920 Scientific Management produced one brilliant insight after the other and creative thinkers like Taylor, Gantt and Gilbreths. During the last thirty years, it has given us little. There are exceptions like Mrs Lillian Gilbreth and the Late Harry Hopf.

According to Drucker, the lack of progress is due to two blind spots. One was the thinking that each element has to be done by one worker. Taylor saw the need to integrate and Harry Hopf certainly advocated it. According to Drucker, IE has not provided good integration tools or concepts, both individual elements and the special qualities of each man.

The second blind spot according to Drucker is insistence on divorce of planning and doing.

Drucker concluded his discussion of the topic with the statement, 'We must preserve the fundamental insights of Scientific Management - just as we must preserve those of Human Relations. But we must go beyond the traditional application of Scientific Management, must learn to see where it has been blind. And the coming of the new technology makes this task doubly urgent."


Peter Drucker in his book The Practice of Management, First Edition, 1955, Current Print 2006, Butterworth Heinemann, .pp.273-281
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  9. What a great post! Thanks you very much. It’s a good summary of the book on scientific management. I’ve heard about a philosophy of worker and work but never done a deep research on this topic. Actually, I’m specializing in providing help writing a letter, so haven’t read this book. As I understood, the author shows that each worker has its own tasks and doesn’t get in touch with others, there won’t be any progress in what they all are doing. Besides, lack of planning has negative impact on work as well. I’ll read this book, that’s what I know for sure!

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