Taylorism and Hours of Work

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  • Topic: Working time, Eight-hour day, 35-hour workweek
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Journal of Management History (Archive)
Emerald Article: Taylorism and hours of work
Chris Nyl

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To cite this document: Chris Nyl, (1995),"Taylorism and hours of work", Journal of Management History (Archive), Vol. 1 Iss: 2 pp. 8 - 25
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Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto, (2008),"Scientific Management revisited: Did Taylorism fail because of a too positive image of human nature?", Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 Iss: 4 pp. 348 - 372 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17511340810893108

Hans Pruijt, (2000),"Repainting, modifying, smashing Taylorism", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 13 Iss: 5 pp. 439 - 451
Jean-Louis Peaucelle, (2000),"From Taylorism to post-Taylorism: Simultaneously pursuing several management objectives", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 13 Iss: 5 pp. 452 - 467 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09534810010377426

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Taylorism and hours of work
Chris Nyland
Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, Australia

Analysts who depict Frederick Taylor and his close associates as villains tend to base their arguments on secondary literature and/or on a cursory and selective reading of some of Taylor’s works. This article looks at an example of such a reading that is concerned with the contribution of the early Taylorists to the reduction of working hours. The article has two primary objectives. First, by examining an instance of the form of analysis of which Schachter[1] is so critical, the article seeks to add to her call for researchers to display greater rigour when analysing the history of the scientific management movement. Second, by advancing important new evidence, the article seeks to extend Nyland’s work on the contribution of the scientific managers to the rationalization of standard time schedules[2].

The vehicle utilized to support the arguments of both Schachter and Nyland is Roediger’s 1988 article[3]. Contrasting Taylor and Ford, Roediger asserts that Ford’s “attitudes on the working day … set him apart from, and above, Taylor”:

At a time when other employers, especially in the Taylorized industries, fought bitterly before conceding labor’s long cherished goal of the eight-hour day, Ford gave the concession away … Although, as Harry Braverman has observed, Fordism shared much with scientific management, the two ideas differed sharply where the working day was concerned[3, p. 136].

Prior to the First World War, Roediger further claims, reform arguments regarding the benefits of shorter hours failed to gain...
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