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Scientific Management and the Engineering Situation

Scientific Management and the Engineering Situation

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Excerpt from Scientific Management and the Engineering Situation: Sidney Ball Memorial Lecture Delivered Before the University of Oxford, 28 October 1922

It is now forty-two years since I first saw Sidney Ball. I had gone to Gottingen to listen to Reinhold Pauli, the historian of the English Middle Ages. On Pauli I called upon my arrival. 'What you must do', he at once exclaimed, 'is to see Herr Ball: he'll tell you everything about Gottingen. We'll go and find him'. Fortunately Gottingen is not a large place; but it took some time to run Ball down, my genial companion muttering strange oaths as we went, to put me at my ease by his command of colloquial English. We found Ball at last, and he 'took over'. Then and there I had my first experience of his prompt kindness, his delicate consideration, his abounding vivacity. 'You must come and have supper with me: but perhaps I had better get some Fleisch.' So he hurried me off to a shop, and bought some slices of bully beef, and carried it in his hand to his lodgings, wrapped up in paper. How often since have I recalled that bright figure, with its charm and ease and confidence, so infinitely attractive to an awkward and timid junior!

Ball had taken his degree the year before, and was then sitting at the feet of Lotze. I took my degree the year after. For the next four years I was maintaining myself as a coach, uncertain at the opening of each term whether I should have enough pupils to pay for my lodgings: Ball had soon an assured position as Fellow and Tutor of a college. It may readily be imagined what the comradeship, the eager outpouring of ideas, the ready hospitality of such a man meant to one whose social opportunities had been as limited as mine.

It is now so long ago that it can hardly be indiscreet to add that, if Ball could have had his way, we should have become colleagues in college work. It was not to be.

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