Hammer be the Death of Me…

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Hammer be the Death of Me…”: Life in the Industrial Workplace

In the United States, prior to the Civil War, the manufacturing of goods (furniture, clothing, tools, weapons, etc.) was done by individual craftsman who worked by hand to apply their individual skill to creating something. These artisans used the “rule of thumb” -- experience or practice, as opposed to a scientific calculation to produce their goods. Goods were of high quality but no single item was the same as another. In the late-19th century the rise of industrial manufacturing replaced the traditional craftsman, rule-of-thumb approach. The leading proponent of changing the workplace was Frederick Winslow Taylor. Below is an excerpt from his book, Scientific Management. Read the selection and HIGHLIGHT the author’s major points. Then, in the box below, draw a picture to represent what you think he mean’s by scientific management.

Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management, 1910
Under scientific management the “initiative” of the workmen (that is, their hard work, their good-will, and their ingenuity) is obtained with absolute uniformity and to a greater extent than is possible under the old system; and in addition to this improvement on the part of the men, the managers assume new burdens, new duties, and responsibilities never dreamed of in the past. The managers assume, for instance, the burden of gathering together all of the traditional knowledge which in the past has been possessed by the workmen and then of classifying, tabulating, and reducing this knowledge to rules, laws, and formula which are immensely helpful to the workmen in doing their daily work. In addition to developing a science in this way, the management takes on three other types of duties which involve new and heavy burdens for themselves. These new duties are grouped under four heads:

  • First. They develop a science for each element of a man’s work, which replaces the old rule- of-thumb method.

  • Second. They scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could.

  • Third. They heartily cooperate with the men so as to insure all of the work being done in accordance with the principles of the science which has been developed.

  • Fourth. There is an almost equal division of the work and the responsibility between the management and the workmen. The management take over all work for which they are better fitted than the workmen, while in the past almost all of the work and the greater part of the responsibility were thrown upon the men.

Perhaps the most prominent single element in modern scientific management is the task idea. The work of every workman is fully planned out by the management at least one day in advance, and each man receives in most cases complete written instructions, describing in detail the task which he is to accomplish, as well as the means to be used in doing the work. And the work planned in advance in this way constitutes a task which is to be solved, as explained above, not by the workman alone, but in almost all cases by the joint effort of the workman and the management. This task specifies not only what is to be done but how it is to be done and the exact time allowed for doing it. And whenever the workman succeeds in doing his task right, and within the time limit specified, he receives an addition of from 30 per cent. to 100 per cent. to his ordinary wages. These tasks are carefully planned, so that both good and careful work are called for in their performance, but it should be distinctly understood that in no case is the workman called upon to work at a pace which would be injurious to his health. The task is always so regulated that the man who is well suited to his job will thrive while working at this rate during a long term of years and grow happier and more prosperous, instead of being over-worked. Scientific management consists very largely in preparing for and carrying out these tasks. . . .

Doubtless some of those who are especially interested in working men will complain because under scientific management the workman, when he is shown how to do twice as much work as he formerly did, is not paid twice his former wages, while others who are more interested in the dividends than the workmen will complain that under this system the men receive much higher wages than they did before.

…It is no single element, but rather this whole combination, that constitutes scientific management, which may be summarized as:

  • Science, not rule of thumb.

  • Harmony, not discord.

  • Cooperation, not individualism.

  • Maximum output, in place of restricted output.

  • The development of each man to his greatest efficiency and prosperity.

The writer wishes to again state that: “The time is fast going by for the great personal or individual achievement of any one man standing alone and without the help of those around him. And the time is coming when all great things will be done by that type of cooperation in which each man performs the function for which he is best suited, each man preserves his own individuality and is supreme in his particular function, and each man at the same time loses none of his originality and proper personal initiative, and yet is controlled by and must work harmoniously with many other men.”

Taylor Frankenworker!: Life in the Industrial Workplace

The businessmen of the 19th century are attempting to create their ideal worker. Complete the statements below by considering the following:

His EYES should be able to ___________ because ______


His BRAIN should be replaced with a _________________ because __



His STOMACH should be removed because____________ _____________________________________________________________________________.

His FOOT should be made of __________ so it does not get removed or cut off.

His ARM has been cut off because__ __________________________________


His IMAGINATION and CREATIVITY are lost because_______ __________________________________


His HAND should be replaced with a ____ ________ because__ __________________________________


His LUNGS would be ___________ (color) because__________ __________________________________



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