Walter Polakov

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Walter Nicholas Polakov (July 18, 1879 – 1948) was a Russian mechanical engineer, consulting engineer, and pioneer of scientific management.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Walter Polakov was born in Luga, Russia, and attended High School in Moscow before studying for a mechanical engineering degree at the Royal Institute of Technology Dresden in 1902. Returning to Moscow, he studied psychology and industrial hygiene before being employed at the Tula Locomotive Works, Moscow.[1]

In the USA[edit]

In 1906 he emigrated with his family to the USA, where he was employed by the American Locomotive Company. There he met Henry Gantt, who was a consultant for the company at that time. Polakov joined Gantt's consulting company in 1910 and got to know Frederick Taylor, Frank Gilbreth and Harrington Emerson. However by 1912 he was working for Wallace Clark before launching his own consulting company in 1915.

Polakov joined the Taylor Society at this time and supported a Marxist view of capitalism in their bulletin.[2] He also joined the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and was part of a faction led by Gantt that broke from the ASME conference to hold their own meeting of the New Machine, an organisation which sought political as well as economic power. About fifty people listened to Gantt's call for industrial reform and Polakov's analysis of inefficiency in the industrial context. However, despite lobbying Woodrow Wilson to give more power to managers, little came of their initiative. However responding to the war needs of the US Navy, Gantt and Polakov were employed as consultants by the Emergency Fleet Corporation where Gantt finalised the development of his Gantt charts. Having helped the US shipbuilders keep up with loses due to German submarine action, the Gantt charts were then applied to managing fleet movements at the U. S. Shipping Board.[3]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wren, Daniel (1980), "Scientific Management in the U.S.S.R., with Particular Reference to the Contribution of Walter N. Polakov", The Academy of Management Review 5 (1): 1–11, doi:10.5465/amr.1980.4288834 
  2. ^ Kelly, Diane J. (2004), "Marxist Manager amidst the Progressives: Walter N Polakov and the Taylor Society", Journal of Industrial History 6 (2): 61–75 
  3. ^ Wren, Daniel (1980), "Scientific Management in the U.S.S.R., with Particular Reference to the Contribution of Walter N. Polakov", The Academy of Management Review 5 (1): 1–11, doi:10.5465/amr.1980.4288834