OR/MS Today - June 2003

TIMS' 50th

The Founding Fathers of TIMS

Historical re-examination of humanity inspired the development of the management sciences

By Melvin E. Salveson

The management sciences and related fields of knowledge and disciplines have made important contributions to all of mankind for more than half a century. Since 2003 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS, founded in 1953, merged with the Operations Research Society of America to create INFORMS in 1995), I offer this historical review and perspective in order to create broader awareness of the field and the contributions of the members of TIMS.

In order to illustrate and explain the history of the discipline, I will provide a brief summary of my professional experiences in science, technology and management, with analyses of how these subjects affect the quantity and quality of human life. Later in my career, these subjects led me to re-examine the history of humanity and, through insights from that history, to conceive and to promote the establishment of TIMS.

In cooperation with other leaders in the management sciences, I initiated formation of the professional society, TIMS, via a meeting at UCLA in September 1953. Our purposes were: 1) to fully develop and refine the powerful, evolving scientific disciplines of management sciences, and 2) to enhance and to benefit all of humanity via the increases in productivity that the application of management sciences enable.

I introduce my own experiences and observations regarding the management sciences by referencing first my studies at the University of California-Berkeley's College of Engineering. The central requirement of everyone who studies to become an engineer is to master the "bodies of scientific knowledge" that underlay his or her selected field of engineering. That body, when understood, enables you, the engineer, to use that scientific knowledge to create, to devise or to design objects (systems, products, tools, etc.) that will serve and function as you intend. (Of course, in practice, that functioning often is achieved with test and refinement.) For example, engineers while operating on the surface of the Earth can unconditionally rely on the scientific principle that gravity has an acceleration value of 32.2 feet/second squared. Thus, any unobstructed object we so design can be trusted to accelerate at that rate.

I began my career with my confidence in the reliability of such science-based approach to all of my work. My first employment began as an ensign in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War II. I was assigned to a "management" position in which my duty was to serve as a "manager/planner" in the manufacture and construction of U.S. submarines at the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Mare Island in California.

Realities of 'Managing'

My experience in that management position soon exposed me to the realities and disabilities of "managing" in the real world. For example, the calculation and construction of a schedule for the production of these submarines was not, in any sense, a science-based process or decision. It was a judgmental or intuitive decision. In practice, I observed that such decisions were regularly amended or modified as time passed and events occurred. The carefully calculated schedules within the shipyard were neither predictable, enforceable nor reliable, for anyone's use and purpose.

As the war continued and our production intensified, I began to search for a better, more effective formula or algorithm by which to establish and manage the schedule for production of my assigned submarines. However, no scientifically valid or reliable schedule was ever created for any of my ships, nor for any ship being constructed in any shipyard throughout the country. There always arose a conflict between my schedule and one or more of the other ships' schedules. Then, either one or both schedules had to be adjusted to accommodate both ships. The decision for new schedules for the conflicting ships was made by "whichever officer had the strongest personality," not by "what is the overall 'best' schedule for those ships."

I believed, of course, that "personality power" was not a reliable guide to the schedule that is best for America. Thus, in my conscience, I was forced to search for a method of developing the "perfect" or ideally optimized schedule for all ships under construction. Indeed, we needed such optimal schedules not just for ships, but for all aircraft, tanks, rifles, etc.

However, within my local "domain," I could and did develop procedures for a best or most acceptable compromise schedule for my group of assigned ships. That helped me to get our submarines into combat "on (or near) the best schedule" and, eventually, to win the war. However, I did not find a scientific solution or model for devising the optimal schedules.

Thus, when the war ended, I was driven to find that formula or model by which I could devise optimal schedules, for producing any product, whether military or civilian. Such an optimizing model, if developed, could serve all of humanity through the most efficient utilization of resources of production.

I attended graduate school at MIT where I could study management in technological environments with my emphasis on scheduling. However, at MIT, I found no scientific solution to my scheduling problem. In fact, I found no scientific solution to any of the "management" problems that we studied. Interestingly, one of the instructors, Ed Boyan, also was looking for a scientific method and solution to scheduling. The nearest he and I could find was the Gantt Chart, a scheduling format that allowed graphic generation of intuitively "best fit" schedules.

Upon graduation, I joined the staff of McKinsey & Company, leading management consultants, where I expected to learn about their solution(s) to scheduling and management problems for their clients. Instead, I found that McKinsey just offered their clients McKinsey's experience and insight on how best to schedule and to manage operations. McKinsey could not offer their clients any science-based solutions to optimally schedule their operations.

My McKinsey experience led me, next, to join the faculty of the School of Business Administration at UCLA. Neil H. Jacoby, the School dean, was seeking a faculty member who could research for science-based solutions to such management problems. While on Dr. Jacoby's faculty at UCLA, I organized the "Industrial Logistics Research Project," which was financed and sponsored by the Logistics Branch of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Navy. The ONR had previously sponsored my research for science-based solutions to the scheduling problems that we all had experienced during and after the war.

In order to strengthen that research, I also enrolled at the University of Chicago and studied for my Ph.D. in what had become known as the management sciences. There, I found my ideal dissertation supervisor, Tjalling Koopmans. He was a physicist-turned-economist who pursued his economics via his mathematical knowledge and skills. My engineering discipline fitted with his discipline as a physicist. He cooperated with me in my search for a science-based model for scheduling activities in any field of operations. While scheduling ships across the Atlantic Ocean for the delivery of arms and ammunition to allied combat forces during the war, he had experienced similar problems to the ones that I had experienced in delivery and installation of components for construction of submarines for combat.

Thanks to Koopmans' mentorship and my own long, sleepless nights, I eventually built a "Rational and Quantitative Theory for Planning and Scheduling Operations" — that was both my goal and the title of my dissertation. Koopmans approved my dissertation, but Judson Neff, my business school professor/advisor, did not have the background to understand my science/mathematics-based work. So Neff quietly invited George Kozmetsky, professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, to review and approve my dissertation on Neff's behalf. Kozmetsky did approve it, and I was awarded my Ph.D. in September of 1952. (Jacoby tested and used some of my techniques in his role as economic advisor to President Dwight Eisenhower.)

All those persons familiar with my subject indicated that my dissertation was an important addition to the management literature. They encouraged me to publish my results, but the subject and the mathematical methods together did not fit any management publication that existed at that time. Fortunately, Koopmans also served as editor of Econometrica, the "Journal of Mathematical Economics." He invited me to publish my dissertation there. And so I did, in the October 1952 issue.

Given the significance of the dissertation, we changed the name of my UCLA project to "Management Sciences Research Project," or MSRP, and we initiated contacts with other organizations. Remington Rand granted MSRP added funds for expanding our research, on the basis that we were leading to mathematical models of scheduling, soluble on their Univac computers. IBM provided UCLA with a large-scale computer, at the time one of the largest in the world, for establishing the "Western Universities Data Processing Center." We tested my scheduling model at local manufacturers, such as Lockheed Aircraft Co., Bendix Aviation and Douglas Aircraft Co. The mathematical models worked on the computers, leading the ONR to increase the funding of the MSRP.

We next decided that we should widely disseminate these research results. Forcing me to decide how I would characterize the models. I reviewed the term "scientific management" as developed by Frederick W. Taylor. In my opinion, Taylor's title did not fit my work or my findings. My intent was to emphasize the role of "science" in the scheduling and other management models that we had observed in the MIT Business School as being in need of a basis in science. Thus, I adopted the term "management sciences," rather than "scientific management." My intent was to have this term include all functions and processes of management that could be designed, decided, developed and applied under the discipline of those management sciences.

Historical Perspective

I also examined from a historical perspective the long-term evolution of those processes that could be optimized via the new management sciences. In the beginning, mankind practiced a "hunter-gatherer" mode of survival that apparently did not involve any economic-based practices or disciplines. The "producer-consumer" period began about 13,000 years ago in the Tigris-Euphrates region of the Middle East. The region allowed human inhabitants to produce (plant, grow, reap, etc.) their requirements for survival and expansion. Their departure from hunter-gatherer involved the specialization of labor and the need to exchange products produced by the different specialist members of the society, such as wheat for meat or clay bricks for thatched huts.

Eight thousand years later, the first "medium of exchange" — what we now call money — was introduced in that same Middle East region. That medium greatly simplified the process of mutual exchange of the products grown or produced in the region among those primitive people who had become the world's first "producers and consumers." The specialization of labor and the exchange of goods and services enabled mankind to dramatically increase its productivity, which in turn opened the door to population growth.

The third important historical event for our purpose here was the gradual realization of the complexity of managing the production and consumption of a large variety and quantity of goods and services. Eventually, during the Grecian period, Pericles demonstrated his "strategy model" for making all manner of choices or decisions, both military and civil. The word "strategy" is derived from a combination of the Greek words "stratos," meaning "army," and "agein," meaning "plan." In other words, the Greeks' "Plan of the Army" strategy was the result of their rationalizing the technicalities and cost/benefits of whatever schedule or plan they might adopt. The sophistication of such "strategy" continues to grow 2,500 years later, as new tools and techniques of strategizing, scheduling, planning, etc. increase our power to expand our domain.

The development of methods and technology for measuring and stating the economic value of the products and services planned by the strategy or schedule of any producer was yet another key event in our particular historical timeline. Such a system was first proposed by Adam Smith, thus originating the role of the economist.

Finally, Frederick Taylor began the development of "scientific management" as an improved method of determining the most valuable plan or schedule of production of goods and services. He was helped by many persons, such as Gantt, Gilbreth and others, and his applications continue to this day.

Taylor's scientific management avenue to increased productivity was modernized and made more powerful by the management sciences. These sciences include all relevant techniques, technologies and disciplines that enable persons to make better decisions regarding the operations of their businesses. These include new power in such functions as: designing, producing, quality controlling, storing, exchanging, distributing, selling, etc. one's products or services. These include:
  • Statistics and probability techniques for measuring the events and their uncertainty and for use in planning, controlling and scheduling all operations and activities.
  • Mathematical, economic and other models for representing, calculating, devising and optimizing values of plans, schedules, controls and actions for satisfying human demands.
  • Computers for calculating the large-scale models for such purposes as: business plans and strategies, product models, operating plans and schedules for production and distribution of goods and services, layout of facilities and design of organizations, projection of future events, such as sales, markets, labor, etc.
  • Communications and systems for disseminating and accumulating information for managing operations, including research, design, production, and distribution of goods and services, etc.
  • Understanding of humans and their characteristics for training and placement as employees in an organization and for enhancing their acquisition of knowledge and skills, their participative senses and emotions, their sense of satisfaction and compensation from participating in the business enterprise, etc.
The preceding are some of the basic scientific disciplines and their application to the most efficient, profitable management of businesses and other enterprises. It is because of the applicability of such a broad range of scientific disciplines that we adopted the term "management sciences." Of course, these sciences have applicability to other fields of human knowledge and endeavor, but they have particular, identifiable applicability to enhancing the effectiveness of managing businesses and other types of organizations. Hence, they are worthy of being recognized as "management sciences."

The Genesis of TIMS

With all of this as background, I contacted a dozen or so "management sciences" friends and professional acquaintances from various institutions nationwide. Seven of them came to a meeting I scheduled at the Faculty Center in the School of Business Administration at UCLA in September 1953. After we met and talked for two hours, all seven present agreed that we should proceed with the formation of a management sciences society.

One of the issues we discussed was how such a society should relate to the Operations Research Society of America, which was founded the year before. The MS and OR disciplines share many areas and subjects. The opinion of all present, however, was that the two organizations as contemplated had different objectives, many different disciplines and different real-world areas of application. The view prevailed that eventually all managers of significant operations would need to master the power of the basic management sciences, just as competent engineers each have mastered the sciences underlying their engineering discipline.

Several of those present at this meeting had experienced application of the management sciences to business operations. They recognized that such applications had resulted in productivity increases in business operations ranging from 10 percent to 40 percent. If such productivity enhancements are widespread, they could have a major impact upon improving standards of living in any nation in which the managers and consultants were so trained. Thus, all seven persons present agreed we should proceed with the founding of a society for the advancement of the management sciences, independent of, but cooperative with, other organizations, such as ORSA.

We then agreed to hold the organizing meeting of what became TIMS in New York City, courtesy of David Hertz, a professor and practitioner of the management sciences. Hertz agreed to serve as host, and we met at Columbia University in December 1953.

In advance of the meeting, each of us prepared a set of items for fulfilling the overall task of forming what became TIMS. One of my items was to collect a series of unpublished article that would fit with the proposed publication of a Journal of the Management Sciences. I had many such articles. I organized these articles and presented them to West Churchman, believing him to be well-qualified for serving as the first editor of the journal.

Approximately 53 persons attended the meeting in New York. They all agreed with the plans to move forward. They voted to adopt the name: "The Institute of Management Sciences." I surveyed those present for their qualifications to serve as first president, including myself. I felt the most qualified was Bill Cooper, professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He had published articles and booklets on linear programming and its application to business. He was nominated and elected. Andy Vazonyi agreed to serve as the first "past president" and chairman of the Board of Trustees of TIMS. George Kozmetsky and I served on the council. Launching a professional society was an important step toward gaining broad recognition and appreciation for the management sciences and their application.

By providing beneficial services to all, including reducing the costs of our goods and services and increasing our productivity and standards of living, the management sciences constitute an intellectual tool as valuable as the knowledge that underlies any other field of science and technology. It is with these benefits in mind that I submit this report on the evolution and value of the management sciences. I invite the members of INFORMS and others to help determine how best to make these benefits available to all of society.

A founding father and a past president of TIMS, Melvin E. Salveson was an inaugural recipient of the INFORMS Fellow Award presented in 2002.

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