Get access

Turning Men into Machines? Scientific Management, Industrial Psychology, and the “Human Factor”

Authors

  • Maarten Derksen


Abstract

In the controversy that broke out in 1911 over Frederick W. Taylor's scientific management, many critics contended that it ignored “the human factor” and reduced workers to machines. Psychologists succeeded in positioning themselves as experts of the human factor, and their instruments and expertise as the necessary complement of Taylor's psychologically deficient system. However, the conventional view that the increasing influence of psychologists and other social scientists “humanized” management theory and practice needs to be amended. Taylor's scientific management was not less human than later approaches such as Human Relations, but it articulated the human factor differently, and aligned it to its own instruments and practices in such a way that it was at once external to them and essential to their functioning. Industrial psychologists, on the other hand, at first presented themselves as engineers of the human factor and made the human mind an integral part of management.

Ancillary