Ernst Abbe's Scientific Management: Theoretical Insights from a 19th Century Dynamic Capabilities Approach

Economics and Evolution Working Paper No. 0312

45 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2005

See all articles by Guido Bünstorf

Guido Bünstorf

Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems - Evolutionary Economics Group

Johann Peter Murmann

University of St. Gallen; UNSW Australia Business School - AGSM

Date Written: June 3, 2005

Abstract

"Scientific management" is the label Frederick Taylor attached to the system of shop-floor management devised by him. In this article, we present our discovery of very different "scientific" management principles that, roughly concurrently with Taylorism, were developed by German physicist-manager Ernst Abbe and that are codified in the statutes of the Carl Zeiss foundation created by Abbe. They exhibit striking parallels to Resource- and Capability-Based Theories of the Firm, and indicate managerial challenges that warrant further theoretical elaboration. Abbe develops an account for managing a science-based firm and securing its long-term competitiveness, giving detailed prescriptions with regard to the type and scope of a firm's activities, its organizational setup, and its labor relations. We highlight some of the most characteristic features of Abbe's thought, discuss its effects on the development of the firms owned by the Zeiss foundation, and compare it to and draw out implications for present-day management theory.

Keywords: Resource-based theory of the firm, dynamic capabilities, scientific management, sustainable competitiveness, corporate governance

JEL Classification: B19, J50, L20, M10

Suggested Citation

Bünstorf, Guido and Murmann, Johann Peter, Ernst Abbe's Scientific Management: Theoretical Insights from a 19th Century Dynamic Capabilities Approach (June 3, 2005). Economics and Evolution Working Paper No. 0312, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=737023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.737023

Guido Bünstorf (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems - Evolutionary Economics Group ( email )

Kahlaische Strasse 10
D-07745 Jena, 07745
Germany
+49 3641 68 68 21 (Phone)
+49 3641 68 68 68 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mpiew-jena.mpg.de/english/staff/buenstorf.html

Johann Peter Murmann

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Dufourstrasse 40a
Institute of Management and Strategy
St.Gallen, 9000
Switzerland
+41 71 224 23 64 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://professor-murmann.net

UNSW Australia Business School - AGSM ( email )

UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia
+61-2-9385-9733 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://professor-murmann.net

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
217
Abstract Views
2,554
rank
163,914
PlumX Metrics