Using psychoanalytic concepts in an area previously untouched by psychohistorical research, this study explores the fateful coincidence of Frederick Taylor's conflicted life history with the needs of industrial management at a time when traditional ways were rapidly becoming obsolete. Although the ideas of "Scientific Management" have had an enormous influence on the industrial life of almost all countries, the development of these ideas in relation to Taylor's personality and to the particular needs of his era has been for the most part ignored. The book traces Taylor's inner conflicts beginning with the crisis at Exeter and continuing with his typical attachments and difficulties in work associations, which, on some occasions, were followed by nervous breakdowns. Concurrent with this theme, the study also reveals how a method and an idea survived because of Taylor's genius and persistence.
To Frederick Taylor the concept of "Scientific Management" was simply the extension of scientific method to include the organization of human work. Kakar points out, however, that this was a totally new idea, one which had a radical impact on the field of management and on his formation, in history, of a technological identity. Efficiency was the core of this identity; put into practice from the standardization of tools to complete automation for the precise and effective functioning of a plant system, it affected the very quality of human life. The book examines Taylor's contributions to the areas of work motivation and restriction and notes the paradox of his industrial utopia: that a managerial system directed towards reducing conflict in the interest of increased productivity generated both conflict and tension.
The material is presented against a broad humanistic canvas, making the book of specific value to those interested in the philosophy of management, the relationship between personality and innovation, and the impact of technology on society, especially in the areas of work and control.
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