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Frederick Winslow Taylor, M.E., Sc.D.

Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 – March 21, 1915), universally known as the “Father of Scientific Management” was born in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 1865 into well-off family. His father, Franklin Taylor, was a graduate of Princeton University and a lawyer, and his mother, Emily Annette Taylor, was an abolitionist and feminist. The family members were devoted Quakers and the upbringing and values created a well-disciplined young man who was ambitious and planned his future. Taylor was married to Louise M. Spooner of Philadelphia, with whom he had no children since all of his three children were adopted. Taylor was educated early by his mother and also studied in both Germany and France. In 1872 Taylor attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. His plan was to enter Harvard and become a lawyer just like his father. However, Taylor had a different calling and thus became an apprentice at Enterprise Hydraulic Works in Philadelphia where he gained shop-floor experience as a machinist. Having completed his apprenticeship in 1878, Taylor became a machine-shop laborer at Midvale Steel Works and quickly flew through the ranks because of his extensive understanding and efficient managerial insights and practices. He was time clerk, journeyman machinist, gang boss over the lathe hands, machine shop foreman, research director, and became the chief engineer soon thereafter. With a deep focus on efficiency, as shop foreman, Taylor studied and analyzed the productivity of both the men and the machines he worked with. This focus on the human element of production gave rise to what is known as “Scientific Management.” In 1883, Taylor earned a degree in mechanical engineering through correspondence from the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Taylor was not only a pioneer of efficiency, but the effective management of mechanical systems and people to increase productivity in organizations. Taylor also worked as a general manager and a consulting engineer for the Manufacturing Investment Company of Philadelphia, where he advised the company’s management. This position lasted for about 3 years, from 1890-1893, after which he opened his own independent consulting practice in Philadelphia. Taylor also worked at Bethlehem Steel Company in 1898 where he used his expertise to resolve machine efficiency and productivity and capacity problems. However, this did not last for long, so in 1901 Taylor resigned from the company and began focusing on marketing and promoting his scientific management strategies and ideas. As part of this effort, Taylor created “The Principles of Scientific Management” and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Pennsylvania. Taylor eventually became a Professor, teaching and researching at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Taylor died shortly after his 59th birthday on March 21, 1915 after developing pneumonia. The Father of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor was laid to rest at West Laurel Hill Cemetery,  Pennsylvania. However, his accomplishments and great impact on our management and business practices will continue to shape leaders, managers, and organizations as we proceed into an uncertain future.

 

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