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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2015

Jane Whitney Gibson, Russell W. Clayton, Jack Deem, Jacqueline E. Einstein and Erin L. Henry

The purpose of this paper is to examine the significant contributions of Lillian M. Gilbreth through the lens of critical biography to put her work in the context of her…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the significant contributions of Lillian M. Gilbreth through the lens of critical biography to put her work in the context of her life events, her key roles, the turning points in her life and the societal context within which her contributions to management thought were made.

Design/methodology/approach

Critical biography examines the interaction of a person’s life events with the social, economic and political contexts surrounding his or her life and draws inferences as to why the person made specific decisions and contributions.

Findings

Key contributions to management thought made by Lillian M. Gilbreth are linked to her biographical events, including the multiple roles she played as daughter, student, wife, mother, author, engineer, psychologist, breadwinner, domestic scientist and teacher. Various turning points in her life are identified, including being allowed to go to college, taking her first psychology course, marrying Frank Gilbreth, publishing Fatigue Studies and Frank’s death. Key societal factors that influenced Gilbreth’s contributions were the growing interest in scientific management, the status of women and the increased interest in domestic science.

Research limitations/implications

The qualitative technique of critical biography is demonstrated as a useful methodology for examining individual contributions to management history. The authors acknowledge the limitation of subjective interpretation.

Practical implications

The reasons behind Lillian Gilbreth’s contributions, which were considered a precursor to the human relations era, are extrapolated from this research.

Social implications

The influence of social context is examined, as it pertains to the life and work of Lillian Gilbreth.

Originality/value

This paper provides a critical biography of Lillian M. Gilbreth and her work within the context of her life and times.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2013

Laurel D. Graham

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.

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is an historical case study.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Jane Whitney Gibson, Jack Deem, Jacqueline E. Einstein and John H. Humphreys

The purpose of this study is to examine the life and work of Frank Gilbreth using a critical biographical approach to draw connections between his life experiences and the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the life and work of Frank Gilbreth using a critical biographical approach to draw connections between his life experiences and the major contributions he made to management history.

Design/methodology/approach

The research design is critical biography. First, a biography is provided that reveals critical incidents from his childhood, his early career before marriage, his life after his marriage and his key personality traits. Gilbreth’s major contributions to management thought are then considered in context of his biography.

Findings

Although Frank Gilbreth is recalled for his contributions to management history through his work in advancing efficiency through motion studies, he should likewise be credited for his foresight of management theories related to the human element in organizations. The major influences on Gilbreth’s career include Lillian Gilbreth and Frederick Taylor.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of critical biography is that researchers cannot address causality but, rather, are focused on drawing connections between life experiences and significant accomplishments.

Originality/value

Critical biography can illuminate theory and practice by providing greater clarity by examining concepts in depth and in context. The authors situate Frank Gilbreth’s work in the context of his lived experiences.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 November 2000

Laurel Graham

As a pioneer of both scientific management and industrial psychology, Lillian Gilbreth was ideally equipped to extend scientific management into the service sector in the…

Abstract

As a pioneer of both scientific management and industrial psychology, Lillian Gilbreth was ideally equipped to extend scientific management into the service sector in the 1920s. When her husband and partner Frank Gilbreth died in 1924 and she encountered sex discrimination among industrialists and engineers, she volunteered her consulting services at Macy’s department store, a work site rife with gender‐based conflict, coordination problems and inefficiency. This paper describes her work with Eugenia Lies, Macy’s director of planning, to revamp both the motions and psychological atmosphere of occupations within the store between 1925 and 1928. By uniting an industrial relations approach with personnel management techniques, Gilbreth and Lies made the Gilbreth brand of scientific management useful for the field of retail management.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 6 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-252X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2009

Fariss‐Terry Mousa and David J. Lemak

This paper aims to discuss the work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and how it is still a fundamental part of business in the twenty‐first century. It is also proposed that…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss the work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and how it is still a fundamental part of business in the twenty‐first century. It is also proposed that the system developed by the Gilbreths could be added as a supplement, or even considered as a replacement to certain modern process management systems.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative methodology is used and the Gilbreths' system as described in their original works are compared and contrasted with modern process management systems appearing in contemporary literature.

Findings

It is found that most modern process management systems are based on the work of the Gilbreths and other seminal thinkers. However, it is suggested that by paying more attention to the human element, the Gilbreths might have developed a more comprehensive system in comparison with current ones.

Originality/value

This paper attempts to reemphasize the role and importance of Frank and Lillian's work as foundational to modern process management systems and to suggest that more attention needs to be given to the human interface in such systems.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2009

Arthur G. Bedeian and Shannon G. Taylor

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the eugenic beliefs of behavioral geneticist Barbara S. Burks and scientific‐management pioneers B. Frank and Lillian M

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the eugenic beliefs of behavioral geneticist Barbara S. Burks and scientific‐management pioneers B. Frank and Lillian M. Moeller Gilbreth.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on personal communications with the Gilbreths' daughter, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, and archival records, this paper clarifies the relationship between Barbara S. Burks and the Gilbreth family.

Findings

This research establishes that the unnamed psychologist described in an unflattering manner in the best‐selling book on the Gilbreth family, Cheaper by the Dozen, was not Barbara S. Burks.

Originality/value

Based on information that only Ernestine Gilbreth Carey could have provided, this paper sets the record straight regarding the Gilbreths' involvement with eugenicist Barbara S. Burks.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1959

IT must not be left exclusively to the United States, her native land, to pay tribute to Dr. Lillian M. Gilbreth on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. Her work in…

Abstract

IT must not be left exclusively to the United States, her native land, to pay tribute to Dr. Lillian M. Gilbreth on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. Her work in applying science to the problem of increasing productivity deserves the gratitude of us all, since it has affected the economy of all industrial countries and contributed substantially to the higher standard of life which is now enjoyed.

Details

Work Study, vol. 8 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0043-8022

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Article
Publication date: 12 January 2015

Daniel A. Wren, Regina A. Greenwood, Julia Teahen and Arthur G. Bedeian

This paper aims to highlight myriad accomplishments of C. Bertrand Thompson, who is perhaps most well known as a scientific-management bibliographer and a Taylor disciple…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to highlight myriad accomplishments of C. Bertrand Thompson, who is perhaps most well known as a scientific-management bibliographer and a Taylor disciple, in the belief that his contributions as a pioneer management theorist and consultant in Europe deserve to be more widely known and more deeply appreciated.

Design/methodology/approach

Archival, primary and secondary sources were used in the research.

Findings

Thompson was among the first to bring management consulting to Europe. He understood the importance of adapting scientific-management principles to meet the diverse needs of each client for whom he consulted. Thompson’s strong belief and value system remained constant throughout his life.

Practical implications

Understanding the needs of customers or clients and adapting systems to meet those needs is essential in achieving success as a consultant.

Originality/value

By drawing on rarely accessed published and unpublished materials, this paper discusses Thompson’s many contributions to management thought and practice, most of which previously have not been highlighted in the referent literature.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1969

ONE area of business to which Work Study could profitably devote some attention is that of planned printing. Even in the second half of the twentieth‐century it is a…

Abstract

ONE area of business to which Work Study could profitably devote some attention is that of planned printing. Even in the second half of the twentieth‐century it is a subject of which many people seem quite unaware, although efficiency‐conscious companies could well find it to be a source of productivity and profit.

Details

Work Study, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0043-8022

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Book part
Publication date: 15 June 2020

Diana Kelly

Abstract

Details

The Red Taylorist: The Life and Times of Walter Nicholas Polakov
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-985-4

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