Purpose - The purpose of the article is to historically position F. Taylor's scientific management in a broad socio-economic landscape, arguing that Taylorism was predetermined by the distinctive industrial type of economic growth and shaped by a political environment of an industrial economy. The authors further aim to discuss how scientific management transcended national boundaries and to analyse the case of Russia, with the focus on the rise and fall of Taylorism in that country in response to political transformations in the twentieth century. Design/methodology/approach - The authors summarize key attributes of F. Taylor's scientific management as a systemic theoretical approach to efficiency with prioritized practical programmatic orientation and perceived social effects. The discussion on how scientific management fits the industrial economic growth and responds to the political environment follows. The authors conduct archival research and aggregate major literature on the history of Taylorism in twentieth century Russia. Findings - The key findings of the study include: a summary of F. Taylor's management paradigm; Taylorism as the product of the industrial type of economic growth; how the political environment in Russia modified the unique cycle of scientific management with its emergence in the 1910s, rise in the 1920s, fall in the 1930s, and rebirth on a technocratic basis in the late 1950s. Research limitations/implications - The paper contributes to the general discussion on Taylorism and provides unique assessments of its historic development in Russia. The results of the study have both academic and educational implications. Originality/value - The findings of the study enrich the discussion about Taylorism and its application in other countries. The archival and analytic results of the study permit conclusions at a high level of aggregation; highlight conflicting positions on the history of Taylorism in Russia in the literature; provide the framework to better understand the scope of scientific management in a historic socio-economic landscape; and display original arguments to support major findings.