The value of original source readings in management education

Aditya Simha (Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, USA)
David J. Lemak (Washington State University‐Tri‐cities, Richland, Washington, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Publication date: 13 April 2010



Frederick Taylor, the “Father of Scientific Management” is recognized as a pioneer in the field of management. However, many unfair criticisms have been leveled at him starting with the infamous Congressional hearings of 1911. Many scholars of management history believe that such criticisms have resulted in negative portrayals of Frederick Taylor in both practitioner and academic circles, and even in some basic management textbooks. This is unfortunate because many of those criticisms result from either a failure to read and understand Taylor's original works or from misinterpretations of them. The purpose of this paper is to contend that students of management will develop a more accurate impression of Frederick Taylor if they read his words and not interpretations of them.


First, an introduction of Frederick Taylor and scientific management is presented. Then, a categorization of common criticisms of Taylor is offered. The results of a study conducted to measure undergraduate business students' impressions of Taylor from their exposure to him in an introductory management course are then presented. The students then give their impressions of statements taken from Taylor's original work and are tested on the differences between them.


The results of the analyses suggest that students have a negative impression of Taylor from their textbooks, but their reaction to statements taken from the original works of Taylor are rated quite favorably.

Practical implications

Future research could be conducted to determine whether the works of other seminal management theorists should be presented in their complete contexts and direct sources to provide students with a more accurate and complete portrayal of their ideas.


This paper is unique in that it empirically tests whether negative attitudes towards Frederick Taylor and scientific management persist after students are exposed to original source works.



Simha, A. and Lemak, D. (2010), "The value of original source readings in management education", Journal of Management History, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 233-252.

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