Mary van Kleeck, Taylorism and the control of management knowledge

Chris Nyland (International Business Unit, Department of Management, Monash University, Clayton, Australia)
Tom Heenan (National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University, Clayton, Australia)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Motivated by the call of the Congress for Industrial Organizations (CIO) for greater labour involvement in management (a call informed by the principles of the Taylor Society), US business launched a crusade in 1944 under the banner, “The Right to Manage”. The purpose of this paper is to extend earlier explorations of the ideas that inspired the leaders of the CIO.


Through examining the work of the neglected feminist, and labour and social activist, Mary van Kleeck, the paper shows how the ideas concerning the democratisation of management, and the determination of decision making by knowledge, not profit, evolved into Taylorism's principal tenets.


The paper finds that an analysis of Mary van Kleeck's work helps explain why many of the ideas that prevailed among inter‐war Taylor Society members deeply disturbed employers, while concomitantly enthusing the CIO.


This paper redresses the view of scientific management's history that misleadingly stresses the initial hostility between Taylor's circle and organised labour, which has become entrenched in management folklore and accepted as axiomatic within the discipline, while ignoring the subsequent commitment of Taylor and the Taylor Society to management democratisation.



Nyland, C. and Heenan, T. (2005), "Mary van Kleeck, Taylorism and the control of management knowledge", Management Decision, Vol. 43 No. 10, pp. 1358-1374.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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