Motion Study in Management and the Arts A Historical Example

Academic Article


  • This article argues that the emphasis on the analysis of motion prevalent in scientific management was only the manifestation of a phenomenon, a way of thinking, that started in the natural and physical sciences during the 19th century and spread through the arts to engineering and management. Rather than being a separate phenomenon unique to management, motion study was based on an emerging way of looking at the world. The approach represented an important change in the knowledge development paradigm and involved breaking down complex phenomenon into component parts and putting them back together in an effort to better understand the whole, appreciate interrelationships, and eventually improve efficiency. In management, Lillian Gilbreth's concept of analysis and synthesis, Frank Gilbreth's motion study, Adamiecki's harmonograms, and Day's network models and decision trees best illustrated this changing paradigm. Similarities between approaches to the scientific study of motion in management and selected areas of the performing arts are discussed. Specifically, the notions of motion developed by Delsarte and Dalcroze in theater and von Laban in dance are compared with familiar notions of applied motion study in management. The article concludes with implications for management with regard to changing knowledge development paradigms.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 8843602
  • Author List

  • Reeves TC; Duncan WJ; Ginter PM
  • Start Page

  • 137
  • End Page

  • 149
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 2