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The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age

Frederick Winslow Taylor in The Gilded Age

Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was an inventor and engineer who became famous as the father of scientific management, also called Taylorism. The organization of modern industry, management, and much of daily life in industrial societies reflects his immeasurable influence.

Taylor was the nineteenth century's most ardent champion of efficiency in industry. He ostensibly set out to raise both productivity and wages (and thereby ease the explosive tension between industrial labor and management). Yet Taylor's theories heavily skewed the benefits of increased productivity in favor of management. The theory of the differential rate, for example, "scientifically" linked backbreaking production quotas to supposedly "fair" wage increases that were rarely proportional. Thus, Taylor utterly lacked the ability to understand his workers as anything other than underperforming cogs in a great industrial machine. Once remarking that he couldn't "look any workman in the face without seeing hostility," he was every bit as personally resented by the men he supervised as he was famous with the captains of industry.

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