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Lillian Gilbreth's psychologically enriched scientific management of women consumers

Laurel D. Graham (Department of Sociology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 2 August 2013




Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878‐1972) extended scientific management into marketing practice in the late 1920s. This paper aims to illuminate several of these practical extensions.


The paper is an historical case study.


Gilbreth brought her psychologically enlightened brand of scientific management to Macy's Department Store in New York City in the mid‐1920s; she accomplished early marketing research for Johnson & Johnson in 1926; and she designed model kitchens in the late 1920s and 1930s which showed homemakers how to minimize wasted motion and unnecessary fatigue in housework while maximizing the psychological well‐being of their families.

Practical implications

Gilbreth's accomplishments show that marketing research has a longer history than was once assumed, offering further support for the revision of Keith's 1960 periodization of this history.


This paper is the first to reveal how Gilbreth's unique mix of psychology and scientific management entered the field of marketing in the interwar period.



Graham, L.D. (2013), "Lillian Gilbreth's psychologically enriched scientific management of women consumers", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 351-369.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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