Before the Industrial Revolution people worked with hand tools, manufacturing articles in their own homes or in small shops. In the third quarter of the 18th cent. steam power was applied to machinery, and people and machines were brought together under one roof in factories, where the manufacturing process could be supervised. This was the beginning of shop management. In the next hundred years factories grew rapidly in size, in degree of mechanization, and in complexity of operation. The growth, however, was accompanied by much waste and inefficiency. In the United States many engineers, spurred by the increased competition of the post–Civil War era, began to seek ways of improving plant efficiency.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.