The craft guilds of old are prototypes for the legend of European craftsmanship. This paper discusses three managerial principles used by the guilds: regulation, standards of accomplishment, and apprenticeship. The rationale behind, and the implementation of, each principle is outlined with reference to historical sources on guild operations. A consistent weakness of guild administration on these principles has been a bias toward self‐interested conservatism. As science and technology progressed, society has responded by abandoning guild administration in favor of independent professional organizations. The paper concludes by noting that, while independent professionalism is progressive, it also minimizes the benefits that guilds obtained from experience‐based knowledge.
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