The year is 1910, and Madame Patricia (Trish) LaBella, a prominent New York hostess, is having a dinner party. Madame LaBella’s husband, W.B. LaBella, is a distinguished industrialist who owns several large bicycle factories. W.B. prides himself on his fine product, but he faces fierce competition, both from Raleigh (an English bicycle company) and from the new automobiles that are starting to appear on the roads.
Last week, W.B. said to Trish, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do, my dear. Costs keep going up, and I have to find some way to encourage my workers to produce more.” Wanting to help her husband, Madame LaBella invited the most influential management thinkers of her day to gather at her table and discuss whether W.B. would benefit from using scientific management, bureaucratic management, or administrative principles in his factories.