Frederick Winslow Taylor, author of The Principles of Scientific Management (1911), was a leading proponent of the scientific management movement in the early twentieth century, a movement dedicated to improving the speed and efficiency of workers on factory floors. In order to institute the principles of scientific management in factories, managers would first conduct thorough time-and-motion studies in which they sent out time-and-motion inspectors to workstations with stopwatches and rulers to time and measure the movements each factory worker was making in doing his or her job. The purpose of these studies was to identify wasted motion and energy in order to improve efficiency and thereby improve productivity and factory profits.
According to Taylor’s principles, scientific managers could use the results of extensive time-and-motion studies to institute changes in their factories in order to make the factories more efficient. One major type of change that could be instituted as a result of time-and-motion studies was that the jobs of lower-skilled workers could be reorganized. Lower-skilled workers could also be instructed in the most efficient way of doing their jobs, instructed in how to stand and where to look, and instructed in how to move their bodies. Another major type of change was that higher-skilled and more highly paid workers could be replaced with lower-skilled and lower-paid workers. If the jobs of the more highly skilled workers could be broken down into more manageable tasks, then lower-skilled workers could more easily be brought in to replace various components of a higher-skilled worker’s job. Factory management hoped that, by instituting these kinds of changes as a result of scientific time-and-motion studies, there could be greatly improved efficiency and lower costs, and therefore much greater profits, in the factories.