Study Summary: The Scientific Management of Information Overload

Study Summary: The Scientific Management of Information Overload

Knowledege Management
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Examining Frederick Winslow Taylor’s seminal work, The Principles of Scientific Management, reveals why many of his ideas were considered controversial. While one might argue against his view of workers’ motivation, the principles underlying his efforts towards productivity improvements still apply today. To make a case for the relevance of his contributions for management practice in the 21st century, this article shows first how Taylor’s thinking relates to key aspects of lean manufacturing, a popular and contemporary business practice. The coherence of scientific management and lean principles are then further applied to a current and growing problem, information overload, to yield testable propositions for further study. Suggestions for addressing information overload, based on anecdotal evidence, are presented as illustrative.


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Big Idea

We can view information management through many of the same principles we have production management.

By drawing connections between the two worlds, we can get better ideas for how we manage knowledge:



While the propositions and anecdotes and suggested changes might not be considered rigorous, the logic underlying this analysis is sound. It has been argued that Taylor’s thinking was a direct influence on Henry Ford and subsequently on the Toyota Production System and lean production. Core tenets of these management practices can be applied to the information overload of knowledge workers, a key challenge of the current age. The legacy of Frederick W. Taylor thus remains relevant for the 21st century.