Basic approaches that have evolved over time to improve productivity

Basic approaches used to improve productivity

Financial Control

The second aspect of scientific management was that of financial control. In the UK, the ideas of costing had slowly developed in the half-century before 1900. Among the most significant events was the production of an adequate textbook involving a coherent theory rather than a series of piecemeal applications.

Factory Account by E. Garcke and J. M. Fells (1887) is perhaps the first modern and comprehensive treatment of the subject in Britain. Rather wider in application is The Commercial Organization of the Factory by J. Slater Lewis (1896). This has been greeted as the first true management textbook in the UK, and this was followed by E. T. Elbourne's Factory Administration and Accounts (1914).

Elbourne was also to play an important part in the development of munitions factories during the First World War and the costing function in these new organizations was particularly chaotic. His work came to be especially influential in the overall supervision of government contracts. Subsequently, the promotion of more efficient methods became his life work and included the foundation of an Institute of Industrial Administration (the forerunner of the British Institute of Management) in 1919.

Although many in industry shared Elbourne's views, they remained, at least in the UK, in a small minority. Rule of thumb methods and empirical solutions prevailed. These views were as strongly held in education as they were among practicing managers. Yet examples of better methods and more appropriate education were available for all to see, notably in America and Germany. If the Wharton Business School, Harvard Business School, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology were deemed to be inappropriate models for the British milieu, the pioneers needed to do something.

One solution was the (typically British) one of forming professional bodies. The older, mainly nonindustrial, ones were already well established and able to provide examples. The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants (now ICMA) was formed in 1921 and proved to be a lively and effective body. The IIA has already been mentioned and although moribund for part of its existence it survived in a truncated form, to be metamorphosed in the post Second World War period into the British Institute of Management (BIM).

Functional management organizations for sales, purchasing, and office management all had an embryo existence, although attempts to form a professional body for work study were abortive.

Invariably, each body remained small in membership, throughout the interwar period, but they did enable like minds to meet and progressive ideas to be generated. If industry did not avail itself of the modern methods, it was certainly not because it was not presented with arguments in favor of them. Neither was it because key personnel were not available.

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