The Contributions of the Luddites, Frederick Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth to Corporate Management

The Luddites

The Luddites was a group of activists who protested against the introduction of machinery into the cotton industry in Britain during the early stages of the industrial revolution. The Luddites were against “all Machinery hurtful to Commonality” (Sale 261), which included machines that replaced people in doing work. In addition, the group also opposed the new market system where workers were paid according to the amount of work they did. They wanted to be paid a fixed amount regardless their productivity. The Luddites’ situation is reflected in management; today employers pay workers a minimum wage that is sufficient to meet their basic needs. Similarly, there are protests against technological innovations that can potentially lead to unemployment, such as the use of robots and automated machines. Business managers are forced to make ethically sound decisions to preserve peoples’ jobs and allow them earn a living.

Frederick Taylor

Frederick Taylor was a theorist who invented the Scientific Management Model. Taylor was among the first proponents of efficiency at the work place. He claimed that people’s productivity will increase if they are paid “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” (Taylor 102). He also advocated for cooperation among workers and between workers and managers as a way of improving efficiency and productivity. Taylor’s ideas are evident in today’s approach to human resource management. Managers interact with junior employees and encourage teamwork as opposed to doing individual work. There is also a motivation of workers through incentives such as pay raises, overtime compensation, travelling and housing allowances, medical coverage and other job privileges.

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were the pioneers of studies on work place psychology. They studied workers’ hand movements and concluded that working as a team on certain complex tasks saved time and improved efficiency. For example, they came up with the idea that nurses save time during surgery by serving as ‘caddies’ who hold surgical instruments and hand them to doctors when needed (Cole 19). This concept is visible in today’s management styles whereby senior managers have personal assistants to help them do minor tasks. Frank Gilbreth also observed that workers do not use the same method to do the same work; each developed a unique technique. From this observation, he proposed that managers should seek to find out the best way of doing certain job functions. This idea is applied today in the development of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) programs. These programs are aimed at improving the quality of service provision, especially with regards to services offered by nurses and physicians in the healthcare.



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