Skip to main content

W.D. Scott and Company



The Scott Company was a consulting firm which was established in 1919 by Walter Dill Scott and several of his colleagues. Scott, who had graduated from Northwestern in 1895 and McCormick Theological Seminary in 1898, became interested in the new field of psychology and received his PhD. in psychology and educational administration from the University of Leipzig in 1900. He returned to Northwestern as assistant professor of psychology and pedagogy. It was during this time that he became interested in the application of psychology to industrial personnel, particularly the psychology of advertising and salesmanship. In 1916 he took a leave of abscence to work in the recently established Bureau of Salesmanship Research of the Carnegie Institute of Technology. When the United States entered World War I, in 1918, Scott and his colleagues offered their services to the government. They adapted the rating scale for salesmanship to rating of army personnel. The Committee of Classification of Personnel in the Army implemented their scientific personnel methods in all United States Army training camps. At the close of the war, Scott and several other committee members continued their association by forming their own “research and consulting agency in the field of industrial personnel”.

The organizational meeting of the Scott Committee, as it was initially called took place in Washington, D.C. on December 29, 1918. The following month, Scott, Robert C. Clothier, Beardsley Ruml, Joseph W. Hayes, Stanley B. Mathewson and Louis B. Hopkins formed a partnership for the purpose of incorporation. They were officially incorporated on March 3, 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Scott as president, Clothier as vice president, Hopkins as treasurer and Ruml as secretary.

The company's first clients were the Domestic Engineering Company and the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco) both located in Dayton, Ohio. In June, 1919 Scott returned to Evanston and began promoting the company in the Chicago area. The three main operating bases of the company thus came to be in Chicago, Ohio and Philadelphia. During the first year the company had 30 clients, 17 of which made use of the company's services beyond the preliminary survey stage.

The Scott Company developed techniques and policies to increase personnel stability in its clients firms, primarily by improving the job selection services available to industry during the immediate post war period. The staff's research into the psychology of job satisfaction and mental testing resulted in the publication of three books: Common Sense in Working with Men (1921), Psychology of the Executive (1921), and Personnel Management, Principles, Practices and Point of View (1923).

Scott's decision to return to Evanston to assume the presidency of Northwestern in 1920, coupled with severe economic contraction of the early 1920's forced the company to restrict and eventually curtail its activities. The partnership disbanded in 1923.


Northwestern University Alumni News, Walter Dill Scott, Reprint by the Scott Hall Committee, Evanston, Illinois, 1939.

History, Sources (cont)

Leonard W. Ferguson, “The Scott Company”, The Heritage of Industrial Psychology, (1976), Chapter 15. (See Box 1 Folder 1).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

W.D. Scott and Company Records

Identifier: 55/6

The W.D. Scott Company (1919-1923) was a consulting firm which was established Walter Dill Scott and several of his colleagues. The company's records are organized into five major categories: General Administrative Records, Business Contacts, Testing and Rating Materials, Personnel Materials for Companies, and Publications. The records also contain Leonard W. Ferguson's history of the Scott Company which comprises one chapter of his Heritage of Industrial Psychology.

Dates: 1919-1923