Gilbreth, Frank Bunker

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gilbreth, Frank Bunker

Frank Bunker Gilbreth, 1868–1924, b. Fairfield, Me., and his wife, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, 1878–1972, b. Oakland, Calif., pioneering American industrial engineers. He was a largely self-taught engineer, she a Univ. of California, Berkeley–trained psychologist and teacher. Marrying in 1904, they opened a consulting business that specialized in scientific management. Using principles from the social sciences and applying them to industrial practices while also employing a motion-picture camera, they developed industrial time-and-motion studies in an effort to improve efficiency and productivity. Their approach and techniques have had a lasting influence on industrial management. The Gilbreths also taught, and wrote Motion Study (1911), Fatigue Study (1916), and Applied Motion Study (1917). After her husband's death, Lillian Gilbreth continued to run the business, and also became an expert on efficiency in home economics and a professor at Purdue Univ. Two of their 12 children, F. B. Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, affectionately described the couple's management of their own domestic life in Cheaper by the Dozen (1949) and Belles on Their Toes (1952).

See dual biography by E. Yost (1949); biography of Lillian Gilbreth by J. Lancaster (2004); M. C. and J. C. Wood, ed., Frank and Lillian Gilbreth: Critical Evaluations in Business and Management (2003).

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