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Rage, rage against the dying of the light: Lyndall Urwick's scientific management

Rage, rage against the dying of the light: Lyndall Urwick's scientific management Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse and critique Lyndall Urwick's long‐term advocacy of scientific management and its influence upon management thought. Design/methodology/approach – An analysis and critique of Urwick's published writings across 60 years, on the subject of scientific management and organizations, particularly linking his work and arguments to the influence of Frederick Taylor, also positioning him relative to the thinking of leading thinkers such as Henri Fayol. Findings – This paper argues that the key to understanding his legacy lies in his unique and changing definition of “scientific management”. This was broader than the definition applied by most of his contemporaries and inspired his integrationist project of assimilating Taylorist scientific management into a raft of developing schools of management thought. Research limitations/implications – Urwick's legacy included a lifetime campaign to reconcile scientific management with succeeding schools of thought, today's management literature stereotyping of some of his contemporary thinkers, and a contribution to management literature's predilection for the labelling of theories and principles. Practical implications – The paper argues for returning to original sources to accurately understand the intentions and arguments of early founders of many aspects of today's management practice. It also alerts us to the proclivity of management theory and practice to opt for convenient labels that may represent a variety of historical and contemporary meanings. Originality/value – The paper offers a critical reflection and assessment of the longest standing advocate of scientific management in the management literature. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Management History Emerald Publishing

Rage, rage against the dying of the light: Lyndall Urwick's scientific management

Journal of Management History , Volume 17 (4): 20 – Sep 27, 2011

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References (82)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1751-1348
DOI
10.1108/17511341111164409
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse and critique Lyndall Urwick's long‐term advocacy of scientific management and its influence upon management thought. Design/methodology/approach – An analysis and critique of Urwick's published writings across 60 years, on the subject of scientific management and organizations, particularly linking his work and arguments to the influence of Frederick Taylor, also positioning him relative to the thinking of leading thinkers such as Henri Fayol. Findings – This paper argues that the key to understanding his legacy lies in his unique and changing definition of “scientific management”. This was broader than the definition applied by most of his contemporaries and inspired his integrationist project of assimilating Taylorist scientific management into a raft of developing schools of management thought. Research limitations/implications – Urwick's legacy included a lifetime campaign to reconcile scientific management with succeeding schools of thought, today's management literature stereotyping of some of his contemporary thinkers, and a contribution to management literature's predilection for the labelling of theories and principles. Practical implications – The paper argues for returning to original sources to accurately understand the intentions and arguments of early founders of many aspects of today's management practice. It also alerts us to the proclivity of management theory and practice to opt for convenient labels that may represent a variety of historical and contemporary meanings. Originality/value – The paper offers a critical reflection and assessment of the longest standing advocate of scientific management in the management literature.

Journal

Journal of Management HistoryEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 27, 2011

Keywords: Scientific management; Management theory

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