Purpose – The paper aims to describe the career and contributions of Joseph Scanlon in gaining labor‐management cooperation through employee participation and sharing the gains from cost savings. Design/methodology/approach – The paper makes use of archives and unpublished sources; correspondence with Scanlon's daughter and a previous colleague; Scanlon's writings; and secondary sources as needed. Findings – Joseph Scanlon used his experiences to develop a plan that encouraged union‐management cooperation and workers and managers sharing gains from improved productivity. Scanlon's background is examined and how his colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, especially Douglas McGregor, provided the venue for his ideas to flourish and gain widespread acceptance. An analysis of 117 studies over a period of six decades is used to identify the conditions that appear to promote or to interfere with the Scanlon Plan. Practical implications – The Scanlon Plan illustrates a means to promote labor‐management cooperation and a means to involve employees through sharing cost savings. Originality/value – This is the first biographical study to use archival and unpublished sources to provide new insights into Scanlon and how his plan for cooperation and Gainsharing developed.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 9, 2009
Keywords: Industrial relations; Modern history; Employee participation; Gainsharing