The evolution of human-machine interaction, from Taylorism to Human-Centered approach



 The human- machine interactions have been investigated since the Taylorism period. Several scholars have accused Taylor of developing a negative human nature in the field of scientific management. Especially, behavioural economists like Simon (1976) and Sen (1990) and sociologists like Etzioni (1988) and Morgan (1997) who recognised such human nature as too egotistical and opportunistics and even more recently, as opposite to humanism (Bruce & Nyland, 2011) the taylorism was identified as a form of machine dominance over human management nature (Del Giudice et al., 2021) because workers were perceived as people with low levels of mental capacity.

Notwithstanding, we have found out that Taylor promoted a collaborative and positive human nature (Wagner‐Tsukamoto, 2008). Taylor stressed out the relevance of undertaking a collaborative approach. He talks about ‘heartily cooperative managers’ who were incentivated a premium wage system (Taylor, 1911). Taylor described how managers should be fair, collaborative and neutral. In this sense, we can see a new Taylor’s perspective on human relations which was closer to Mayo (2004) and Follett (1942; see also Gibson et al., 2013). As stated by Muldoon (2020) Taylor and Mayo complement each other rather than to be considered competitors. Therefore, no power over employees but ‘power with’ collaboration between managers and employees. Despite that, Wagner‐Tsukamoto  (2007) confutes such approach because it does not consider managerial opportunism that was espoused by Taylor as well.  However, it is interesting to notice that Taylor’s philosophy has been perpetuated over time (Warring, 1988).

This has encouraged new studies on employees’ engagement to understand the evolution from the dilemma of Taylorism human nature concept (moving towards a negative and a positive view) to the current management approach (Dagher et al., 2015). For instance, Varje et al., (2003) accent on the ‘self’ that explores the psychological side of workers. Such humanism has recently heated up with the debate about human- machine interactions (Del Giudice, 2021a; b) and algorithmic management of human resources (Malhotra 2020; 2021). The evolution and involvement of technologies has introduced the concept of ‘digital humanism’ that leverages on the relationship between human and humanoids (Wagner, 2020). In turn, this has triggered a new dilemma: do humanoids disempower or empower humanity (Agar, 2019; Beane, 2019; Acemoglu & Restrepo, 2017). For instance, Stiegler (2008; 2011) affirms that such machines augment humans and so empower their skills. On the same note, Del Giudice et al. (2021) and Malhotra et al. (2021), Malik et al. (2020) stress the positive outcomes that can be generated by human-machine interactions such as innovative ventures, employees’ engagement, and lower employee turnover. Those machines free humans from routinary activities and encourage them to be more creative.

With this scenario, the present special issue aims to offer an historical excursus that explores the evolution of human-machine interaction, from Taylorism to the Human-Centered approach. The scope is to investigate the historical root of such interaction and how it evolved over the time. It helps understandi human emotions, capabilities and instinct by the involvement of neural networks and machine learning. In a nutshell, the implication of “mental attitude” (Nadworny, 1955) has been operating and changing from Taylorism to nowadays. By looking into the scientific management history, it is possible to find a plethora of studies that offer a different point of view on human- machine interactions. Some of those also defined as ‘traditionalists’ share a negative opinion and others who have a more positive idea that embraces the beneficial view of such interactions which brings up the understanding of the psychological side of human management. As far as we know there are no studies that explore historical roots and empirical scenarios of the relevance of human-machine interaction.

Scholars are invited to trace the management history through the investigation of past and traditional works from Taylor to recent and modern studies so as to offer the evolutive perspective of such interactions. Their works should be based on facts which can be behind some interpretations and rely on the relative context (Muldoon, 2021). Taking in consideration that “management is a combination of economics, psychology, and sociology …. I urge management history scholars to conduct citation analysis and check original texts and their hidden meanings to uncover a more accurate past” (Muldoon, 2020; p.49). Finally, scholars are invited to offer qualitative and quantitative articles even though previous works on the management history literature is based on theory building approaches. We stress the fact that all interpretations need facts behind them to be justified and generalised.


List of topic areas

  •  Investigating the historical root of human-machine interactions;
    - Examining the evolution of human-machine interactions since the Taylorism period to nowadays;
    - Exploring role of the different context and historical period over time;
    - Offering a critical debate on the relevant theories that have been explored the evolution of human-machine interactions;
    - Crediting or confuting Taylor’s thoughts, based on the current market context;
    - Studying the psychological side of ‘humanism’ over time;
    - Contextual and historical roots of ‘digital humanism’
    - Scrutinizing the ‘heartly collaborative’ approach from Taylorism to Society 5.0

Submission Information

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Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 1 July 2022

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 1 November 2022                  


Guest Editors

Veronica Scuotto, University of Napoli Federico II; Italy

Manlio Del Giudice, Link Campus University, Italy

Vijay Pereira, NEOMA Business School, France

Arvind  Malhotra,  University of North Carolina, USA