Tags: Abraham Charnes, Alan Waterman, Alfred Sloan, Allen Newell, Beatrice Cherrier, Charles Holt, Edward L. Bowles, Eli Shapiro, Franco Modigliani, Henry Stimson, Herbert Simon, Horace Levinson, Hunter Heyck, Jay Forrester, Joel Isaac, John Muth, Judy Klein, Karl Compton, Marion Foucarde, Paul Samuelson, Philip Morse, Rakesh Khurana, Robert Solow, William Larimer Mellon Sr., William W. Cooper
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This post continues my provision of supplementary commentary for my Business History Review article, “Operations Research vis-à-vis Management at Arthur D. Little and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s” (Thomas 2012). In it, I look at a history split between this article and my 2009 article with Lambert Williams, “Epistemologies of Non-Forecasting Simulations, Part I: Industrial Dynamics and Management Pedagogy at MIT” (Thomas and Williams 2009).
When MIT established its new School of Industrial Management (SIM) in the early 1950s, the institute’s administrators sought a signature approach to the subject reflecting its strengths in science and engineering. This search moved from operations research (OR) to Jay Forrester’s “industrial dynamics”. In the end, neither approach became the distinguished approach to management that MIT sought, though SIM and OR would both become individually successful within the Institute.
The last part of this post puts this story in the context of the more successful effort of the Carnegie Institute of Technology to develop a high-profile program for its Graduate School of Industrial Administration, which was established around the same time. Carnegie Tech’s approach to management had strong intellectual connections with academic economics — an intellectual model that soon attracted the field of OR into its orbit. The equivalent intellectual and institutional movement at MIT was to be found in the ascendancy of its economics department.