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Writing and the advent of scientific management: The case of time and motion studies

Scandinavian Journal of Management
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0956-5221(95)00040-2
  • Communicative Action
  • Time And Motion Studies
  • Disciplinary Power
  • Calculable Subjects Coordination Of Time
  • Animal Machine
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences


Abstract Ever since the coordination and control of production processes became a central issue in industrial capitalism, authors have tried to demonstrate in their writings ways in which science can support this need to control on the part of entrepreneurs and managers. Foucault has put much emphasis on the relationship between science and power and has tried to demonstrate that the social sciences and their writings have helped to generate power techniques to enhance the role of those who are in charge. His approach, however, leads to the conclusion that the development of knowledge is not able to liberate the human race from oppression. Habermas has shown that by differentiating between several forms of human action it is still possible to see knowledge even in its written form as an emancipatory force, and to improve the human lot. The author defends this point of view by writing a historical narrative about one specific concept of management science: time and motion studies. The writings in this field could equally have been a technique to oppress or to emancipate. It depends on the context which way is chosen.

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