Lillian Gilbreth’s Impact on Management

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The essay will start off with a brief biography of Lillian Gilbreth before discussing how social, economic, political and intellectual factors prevailing during her life influenced her and the development of her theories. However, her achievements would not have been possible without the help and support from her husband, Frank Gilbreth – the founder of motion study. Therefore, as we discuss about Lillian Gilbreth’s contribution to the field of management, we will also include brief discussions about Frank Gilbreth, as he played a fundamental role in Lillian’s life. We will then elaborate how relevant the theories are to managers today.

Lillian Gilbreth was a remarkable woman pioneer in modern industrial management (Proffitt 1999). She was the one of the first theorist in the early twentieth century to emphasize the importance of psychology into scientific management (Kelly & Kelly 1990). Lillian Gilbreth was born Lillian Evelyn Moller on 24th May, 1878 in Oakland, California, the oldest of nine children of William and Annie Delger Moller (Proffitt 1999). In 1904, Lillian married Frank Gilbreth and produced twelve children (one which died of diphtheria at the age of six) (Burns 1978; Wren & Bedeian 2009). With the support of Frank, Lillian successfully published The Psychology of Management in 1914, which is one of the earliest thesis that contributed to the understanding of the human factor in the industry (Wren & Bedeian 2009). In 1915, she earned a PhD from Brown University, becoming the first woman to receive a doctorate in psychology. (Yost, cited in Miller & Lemons 1998). The Gilbreths were commonly known for their partnership in the scientific management (Wren & Bedeian 2009). It was not until Frank's death in 1924 that Lillian Gilbreth shouldered on the responsibility for providing for her children, thus beginning her independence as a working mother, carving a name for herself (Browne 2000). In 1926, she became the first woman member of the

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