Abstract: Introduction of New Management Concepts: When Scientific Management Came to Europe

Jørgen Burchardt


F.W. Taylor's ideas about Scientific Management had in fact only limited impact on management practice before 1920. Worldwide, the system was successfully implemented in maybe only five or six organizations. In Denmark an early introduction of the system took place at a plant over a ten-year period from 1905 to 1915. However, a change of top management led to parts of the system being abandoned. It seems that the failing breakthrough of Scientific Management in its first period was not caused by resistance from the labor unions. To the contrary, the resistance came from conservative top managers who often put the brakes on the introduction of new management systems. New management methods will not automatically emerge as a consequence of structural, technological, or competitive necessity. The implementation was often carried through by personal enthusiasm. It was this excitement in itself that became influential, and not the specifics of the new methods, as most parts of those were developed by others already in the preceding century. The most important was the charisma of Taylor originally based by his introduction of high speed steel in 1900 for an almost political or religious movement with an emphasis on the iron business.