Early labor economics: Its debt to the management practice of Henry S. Dennison

Kyle D. Bruce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kaufman (2000a, 2001a, 2001b, 2002) has argued that contemporary human resource management owes a great intellectual debt to applied labor economics in the first fifteen years of its existence (circa 1915-1930) and that academic economists' writings were the most substantive, scholarly, and well-represented in this fledgling literature. This paper seeks to complement and broaden Kaufman's analysis by considering the role of management practice on the thinking of the very same economists that he highlights in his work. My central objective here is to demonstrate that the thinking of these labor economists did not develop in isolation but was, in fact, shaped to a degree by management practitioners. My exemplar in this regard is Boston businessman and scientific manager, Henry S. Dennison, whose practices and thought concerning labor organization and regulation, personnel management, and industrial democracy impacted the writings of leading labor economists of the interwar period, particularly those of John R. Commons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-433
Number of pages31
JournalHistory of Political Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007


  • management


Dive into the research topics of 'Early labor economics: Its debt to the management practice of Henry S. Dennison'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this