Critically Discuss the Contribution of the Work of Frederick W. Taylor to Management Thought and Practice. Pay Particular Attention to How His Ideas Were Shaped by the Cultural Context of His Time, and to the Competing Interpretations of His Legacy.

Topics: Management, Organizational culture, Organizational studies and human resource management Pages: 6 (2437 words) Published: November 21, 2012
Grey offers a number of opinions on management thought in his book “A Very Short Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Organisations” (2009). He outlines his opinions through a number of themes within the book such as looking at bureaucracy and scientific management together, his views on human relations theory (HRT) and its links with people management, the theme of organization culture and post-bureaucracy and how it is effecting change management. The final theme I will discuss in my essay is fast capitalism and how it is ending management. While looking at the themes I will also be evaluating Grey’s arguments within them and try to relate them where applicable to Wren and Bedeian’s book “The Evolution of Management Thought” (2009). Grey views on bureaucracy are that he sees it as a highly efficient way of management in this book bureaucracy is not seen as red tape but a management type as put forward by Weber whereby rules and regulation are used to become as efficient as possible. Grey tells us how Weber saw an emergence of an ideal called “rational legal authority” (Grey, 2009). Grey tells us how rationality links with bureaucracy using a number of examples such as formal or instrumental rationality the idea of this is to adopt a means to meet and end using the most efficient way possible. Grey uses an excellent example to illustrate this being the Nazi Holocaust it is as Grey (2009) says the extreme application of bureaucratic logic. It operated under a set of rules which were applied impersonally. This allowed it to be unbelievably efficient. Grey’s ideas on bureaucracy are linked to the ideas explored in Wren and Bedeian’s “The Evolution of Management Thought” (2009) both books emphasise how Weber did not mean red tape when he said bureaucracy, they also share similar views of the disadvantages of bureaucracy such as how workers will work to the rules and therefore know exactly what they must do to stay in the job or to achieve something Grey’s view on scientific management as put forward by Taylor is that his ideas still define management today. The real leap for scientific management as explained by Grey (2009) was the use of it by Henry Ford the man who made Ford cars. He employed scientific management within his factory to increase efficiency and it did so hugely. Grey also recognises the problems caused by Taylor’s ideas. Such as the many strikes by workers as it left the workers with less power and the managers with all the power, one of the main problems with it as explained by Grey (2009) is it eroded working conditions, reduced autonomy and threatened unemployment. I feel that Grey’s view here focuses too much on the problems caused by scientific management he does give a few advantages of it but he doesn’t emphasise enough how scientific management really revolutionised the way in which factories and companies operated such as how using Taylor’s ideas on scientific management thought companies such as General Motors and Du Pont have become two of the biggest corporations in the world thanks to it. Wren and Bedeian share similar views to Grey on scientific management however I feel they show more admiration for it when they say how scientific management paved the way forward for subsequent management development (Wren and Bedeian 2009). Grey (2009) expresses his view many people see scientific management as the bad guy and human relations theory (HRT) as the good guy. I agree with this and Grey uses the Hawthorne experiment example which I feel expresses this view correctly and helped me understand the inefficiency’s caused by HRT. He tells us of an experiment in a bank wiring room where workers were producing electrical components and rather than produce at maximum output which would earn them a bonus they choose to produce at a lower level. This was due to informal norms set around the workplace such as peer pressure and an unofficial gang leader. This shows us that the informal...
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