Charles E. Bedaux was born in Paris in 1886 on 26 October and migrated to the United States early in the 20th century. He became an American citizen and developed himself to become one of the pioneering contributors to the field of scientific management.
Bedaux worked out various ideas about measuring human energy: these provided the basis for the innovative work study programs that lead to startling improvements in productivity.
Bedaux introduced the concept of rating assessment in timing work. He adhered to Gilbreth's introduction of a rest allowance to allow recovery from fatigue. He is also known for extending the range of techniques employed in work study, including value analysis.
In 1916, Charles Bedaux established his first management consultancy firm in Cleveland. The firm can be considered to be one of the first professional management consultancy firms in the world and its success led to the creation of a string of consultancy firms, firstly in the USA and later in Europe. In 1926 the British Bedaux Company was formed, followed by companies all over Europe, Africa, Australia and the East. Some of the leading consultancy firms of today have their roots with Bedaux.
Bedaux had a strong streak of idealism and believed that his improved production methods were important to the whole world. He preached to industrialists about the need to consider other people and not just profits. This philosophy achieved results.
Charles Bedaux bought the sixteenth century Chateau de Cand in France, where he lived with his American wife Fern. Charles Bedaux had business dealings with the allied forces as well as the Germans, previous to, and in the beginning of the second world war. He was flown from North Africa to the United States in 1944 to investigate his legal position regarding dealing with Germans. He died before a formal charge was entered.
After the war, various Bedaux companies all over the world continued their work, some of them with new names and new management; all of them with the same philosophy: giving true attention to people in organisations pays off in terms of motivation and productivity.
The Canadian director George Ungar published in 1995, after 16 years of research and gathering of material, a TV documentary of 100 minutes with the title "The Champagne Safari". In this documentary the life of Charles E. Bedaux has been presented in the most fascinating way and put into relation to the economical developments of the first half of the 20th century. This movie is a must-see for every person who has an interest in the history of scientific management, industrial engineering and management consultancy..
The management systems and tools have developed far away from the original techniques and tools. Still the essential working principles are based on the traditional doctrines: looking and listening carefully to people, understanding their working processes, assessing and developing opportunities for improvement, establishing fair standards and providing stimulating conditions.