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

Posted: 29 Feb 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: August 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-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.

Suggested Citation

Buenstorf, Guido and Murmann, Johann Peter, Ernst Abbe's Scientific Management: Theoretical Insights from a Nineteenth-Century Dynamic Capabilities Approach (August 2005). Industrial and Corporate Change, Vol. 14, Issue 4, pp. 543-578, 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=914665

Guido Buenstorf (Contact Author)

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

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

Abstract Views
513
PlumX Metrics