Diana Kelly (University of Wollongong, Australia)

The Red Taylorist: The Life and Times of Walter Nicholas Polakov

ISBN: 978-1-78769-986-1, eISBN: 978-1-78769-985-4

Publication date: 15 June 2020


Kelly, D. (2020), "Prelims", The Red Taylorist: The Life and Times of Walter Nicholas Polakov (Frontiers of Management History), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-x.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited

Half Title

The Red Taylorist


Frontiers of Management History

Edited by: Dr Kevin D. Tennent, University of York, UK; Dr Alex G. Gillett, University of York, UK

Frontiers of Management History focusses on new and emerging scholarship on management history, presenting innovative methodological approaches to study history, and new or disruptive ways of thinking about and theorising management and business history. The books within the series combine the craft of the business historian with the methodology of the social scientist, to offer interdisciplinary perspectives on the management history field, alongside theories, frameworks, critiques, and applications for practice. Featuring a wide range of theoretical, empirical, and historiographical contributions concerned with organisations from various sectors, the series creates a new space in which to engage a new generation of historians and social scientists, to contribute to the future direction of business, organisational, and management history.

Title Page

The Red Taylorist: The Life and Times of Walter Nicholas Polakov

Diana Kelly

University of Wollongong, Australia

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2020

Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited

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No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-78769-986-1 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-78769-985-4 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-78769-987-8 (Epub)


About the Author vii
Acknowledgements ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 The Russian Engineer Comes to New York, 1905–1915 11
Chapter 2 The Engineers Should Rule – Taylor Society and the New Machine, 1915–1920 33
Chapter 3 Two Books for the 1920s 57
Chapter 4 Taking the Gantt Chart to the Soviet Union and a Roller Coaster Return, 1928–1937 83
Chapter 5 The Scientific Manager Joins the Union and Is Harried by the FBI, 1937–1948 115
Chapter 6 Conclusion 145
Bibliography 155
Index 171

About the Author

Diana Kelly has researched and taught in history, industrial relations, and management over many years, as well as having numerous organisational and collegial roles, mainly at the University of Wollongong.


This book has been many years in the making, and I owe many scholars and friends. Special thanks to all my family for patience and encouragement, especially G who read scripts, made tea, and was supportive amid much stress, as well as, Cate, Bryn, Lucy, John, Tom, Michael and Emily, and ALL my siblings who all seemed so sure that I could do this. Your belief was wonderful – and so necessary! Thank you too, to Zita, Audrey, Vincent, and Archie – remember to keep asking the hard questions.

Warm and collegial thanks too, to Rowan Cahill, Sharon Crozier-De Rosa, and Terry Irving for reading drafts and proffering advice, scholarship, and kindness. It was very deeply appreciated. Also, thank you to Chris Nyland for starting the whole thing off, and to Anthony Ashbolt, Art Bedeian, Stephen Brown (expert in Russian history), Kyle Bruce, Rob Castle, Josie Castle, Bruce Kaufman, and Dan Wren, as well as the late Tom Keenoy and the late Dan Leab (editor, American Communist History), all for encouragement when nothing seemed to work. Journal editors John Wilson (Journal of Industrial History) and Bradley Bowden (Journal of Management History) were also inclusive and collegial. Special thanks are also due to Lois Hogg and Dr Robin Kenning, as well as my colleagues in History and Politics, to Beaton Park Gym Queue and The Little Birdcage, who kept me grounded. I am also grateful for support from numerous other family, friends and colleagues over many years. Appreciation too, to the C-DRs, who wasted good family time hunting for Polakov’s former farm in Fairfax Station Virginia, and to MEK for the painting of Polakov.

I cannot thank enough, the librarians and archivists everywhere. At the University of Wollongong, the professionalism and forbearance of library colleagues over 25 years has been remarkable. Thank you to those at all the following archives: Special Collections, Littauer Library, Harvard University; Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island records; FDR Presidential Library Archives; Hoover Institution Archives; National Archives at St Louis MO (NARA); Kheel Center, Catherwood Library, ILR School, Cornell University; Bruce Kodish (Korzybski correspondence files); Stevens Archives, Stevens Institute of Technology; Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University; FBI Records Management Division; United Mine Workers of America Archives; Special Collections, Stanford University and American Universities Digital Research Archive, (AUDRA), Special Collections, especially, Drew Pearson’s Washington Merry-Go-Round. HathiTrust Digital Library and Internet Archive were essential and free sources for ASME publications, Bulletin of the Taylor Society and other important institutional material of the early twentieth century. Ancestry and allied sites allowed insights into Polakov’s life not available elsewhere.

I hope the belief of so many in this project proves justified, and you too, believe Walter’s story needed to be told.