Ernst Abbe's Scientific Management: Theoretical Insights from a Nineteenth-Century Dynamic Capabilities Approach

Papers on Economics and Evolution # 0312

Posted: 28 Jul 2008

See all articles by Guido Buenstorf

Guido Buenstorf

University of Kassel - Economics; University of Kassel - International Centre for Research on Higher Education; University of Gothenburg

Johann Peter Murmann

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 5, 2003

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-turned-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 set-up 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

Buenstorf, Guido and Murmann, Johann Peter, Ernst Abbe's Scientific Management: Theoretical Insights from a Nineteenth-Century Dynamic Capabilities Approach (June 5, 2003). Papers on Economics and Evolution # 0312, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=790264

Guido Buenstorf

University of Kassel - Economics ( email )

Nora-Platiel Str. 4
34109 Kassel
Germany

University of Kassel - International Centre for Research on Higher Education ( email )

D-34109, Kassel
Germany

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Johann Peter Murmann (Contact Author)

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

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