Psychology Evaluation of Scientific Management by Lilian Gilbreth – 1914

Lilian Gilbreth evaluated scientific management from the view point of Psychology in the book “THE PSYCHOLOGY  OF MANAGEMENT.”

Important points made in the book are presented below.


Definition of Psychology of Management – Importance of the Subject – Purpose of this Book
Definition of Management. – Possible Psychological Studies of Management – Plan of Psychological Study Here Used –  Conclusions to be Reached

Definition of Psychology of Management.

The Psychology of Management, as here used, means, the effect of the mind that is directing work upon that work which is directed, and the effect of this undirected and directed work upon the mind of the worker.

Psychology, in the popular phrase, is ” the study of the mind.”

It was not recognized that every man going out into the world needs all the knowledge that he can get as to the working of the human mind in order not only to give but to receive information with the least waste and expenditure of energy, nor was it recognized that in the industrial, as well as the academic world, almost every man is a teacher.

With the advent of “Scientific Management,” and its demonstration that the best management is founded on laws that have been determined, and can be taught, the study of management in the class
room as well as on the work became possible and actual.

By Scientific Management, it has demonstrated that the emphasis in successful management lies on the man, not on the work; that efficiency is best secured by placing the emphasis on the man,and modifying the equipment, materials and methods to make the most of the man. It has, further, recognized that the man’s mind is a controlling factor in his efficiency, and has, by teaching, enabled the man to make the most of his powers.  In order to understand this teaching element that is such a large part of management, a knowledge of psychology is imperative; and this study of psychology, as it applies to the work of the manager or the man aged, is exactly what the ” psychology of management ” is.

The psychology of, that is, the mind’s place in management is only one part, element or variable
of management; one of numerous, almost numberless, variables.

Purpose of This Book. It is scarcely necessary to mention that this book can hope to do little more
than arouse an interest in the subject and point the way to the detailed books where such an interest can be more deeply aroused and more fully satisfied.

Definition of Management. 

To discuss this subject more in detail
First: What is ” Management “?
” Management,” as defined by the Century Dictionary, is ” the art of managing by direction or

Successful management of the old type was an art based on no measurement. Scientific Management
is an art based upon a science, upon laws deducted from measurement. Management continues to be
what it has always been, the art of directing activity.

Psychological Interest of the Terms.

Psychology could ask no more interesting subject than a study of the mental processes that lie back of many of these terms. It is most unfortunate for the obtaining of clearness, that new terms were not invented for the new ideas. There is, however, an excellent reason for using the old terms. By their use it is emphasized that the new thought is a logical out growth of the old, and experience has proved that this close relationship to established ideas is a powerful argument for the new science; but such terms as “task,” “foreman,” “speed boss,” “piece-rate” and ” bonus,” as used in the science of management, suffer from misunderstanding caused by old and now false associations. Furthermore, in order to compare old and new interpretations of the ideas of management, the older terms of management should have their traditional meanings only. The two sets of meanings are a source of endless confusion, unwarranted prejudice, and worse. This is well recognized by the authorities on Management.

Plan of Psychological Study Used Here.

It has, therefore, seemed best to base the discussion that is to follow upon arbitrary divisions of scientific management, that is
1. To enumerate the underlying principles on which scientific management rests.
2. To show in how far the other two types of management vary from Scientific Management.
3. To discuss the psychological aspect of each principle.

Underlying Ideas and Divisions of Scientific Management. 

These underlying ideas are grouped under nine divisions, as follows :
1. Individuality.
2. Functionalization.
3. Measurement.
4. Analysis and Synthesis.
5. Standardization.
6. Records and Programmes.
7. Teaching.
8. Incentives.
9. Welfare.

Conclusions to be Reached.
These conclusions will include the following:

Psychology Evaluation of Scientific Management by Lilian Gilbreth – 1914

1. “Scientific Management” is a science.
2. It alone, of the Three Types of Management, is a science.
3. Contrary to a widespread belief that Scientific Management kills individuality, it is built on the basic principle of recognition of the individual, not only as an economic unit but also as a personality, with all the idiosyncrasies that distinguish a person.
4. Scientific Management fosters individuality by functionalizing work.
5. Measurement, in Scientific Management, is of ultimate units of subdivision.
7. Standardization under Scientific Management applies to all elements.
8. The accurate records of Scientific Management make accurate programmes possible of fulfillment.
9. Through the teaching of Scientific Management, the management is unified and made self-perpetuating.
10. The method of teaching of Scientific Management is a distinct and valuable contribution to Education.
11. Incentives under Scientific Management not only stimulate but benefit the worker.
12. It is for the ultimate as well as immediate welfare of the worker to work under Scientific Management.
13. Scientific Management is applicable to all fields of activity, and to mental as well as physical
14. Scientific Management is applicable to self-management as well as to managing others.
15. It teaches men to cooperate with the management as well as to manage.
16. It is a device capable of use by all.
17. The psychological element of Scientific Management is the most important element.
18. Because Scientific Management is psychologically right it is the ultimate form of management.
19. This psychological study of Scientific Management emphasizes especially the teaching features.
20. Scientific Management simultaneously
a. increases output and wages and lowers costs.
b. eliminates waste.
c. turns unskilled labor into skilled.
d. provides a system of self-perpetuating welfare.
e. reduces the cost of living.
f. bridges the gap between the college trained and the apprenticeship trained worker.
g. forces capital and labor to cooperate and to promote industrial peace.