Article

Mind, Method, and Motion: Frank and Lillian Gilbreth

Bernard Mees

in The Oxford Handbook of Management Theorists

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199585762
Published online April 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199585762.013.0003

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Mind, Method, and Motion: Frank and Lillian Gilbreth

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This article discusses the contributions of American industrial engineers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth to management thought. It suggests that the work of the Gilbreths represents a very modernist form of rationalization, of the measuring, categorization, recording, and governing of work, work methods, employees, and processes. The motion studies and uses of psychology stressed by the Gilbreths would seem to represent some of the most pronounced forms of governance of production in the history of management thought. Frederick Taylor’s mental revolution entailed recourse to a ‘science’ of management as the ultimate arbiter of work processes. The committing of processes to writing and film would be Taylorized even more completely under Frank Gilbreth’s motion study, while workers would be enrolled more fully into the new labour process by the equally coercive and ideologized Taylorization of their minds in Lillian Gilbreth’s much more teacherly psychology of management.

Keywords: Frank Gilbreth; Lillian Gilbreth; management thought; motion studies; Frederick Taylor; Taylorization

Article.  8937 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business History

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