[OPE-L:2885] Taylorism and scientific management

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 13:44:52 -0700 (PDT)

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Gil, in passing, wrote in [OPE-L:2878]:

> There is a much more direct explanation for why
> Taylorism failed: it didn't work, and agency theory provides a direct
> explanation why: if workers have superior information about how production
> actually works, they can easily circumvent attempts to force them to reveal
> this information (especially once they learn from the infamous Schmidt's
> negative example). And workers *did* circumvent Taylorist interventions:
> they did slowdowns, they broke machines, they created costly political and
> industrial unrest, etc.
First: I'm not sure what you mean by the Schmidt's "infamous" negative
example. Please explain.

Second: I don't understand your statement that Taylorism failed [capital].
Taylorism is still very much in force today in many areas branches
of production.

Third: While I am very familiar with different ways to slow-up, etc.
(having worked on an auto assembly line for 5 years), I don't see
this as evidence that capitalists have given up on Taylorism
(ask any autoworker: the auto corporations haven't given up yet).

> This is why Taylorism was supplanted by so-called scientific management and
> other technologically and bureaucratically oriented forms of labor extraction.


Now, you really have me confused. F.W. Taylor was the _founder_ of
"scientific management." A popular summary of his perspectives is entitled
_The Principles of Scientific Management_ (published first in 1911). You
must understand the two expressions (Taylorism and scientific management)
as distinct. How so?

In [puzzled] OPE-L Solidarity,