Essay on Frederick Winslow's Theory of Scientific Management

Topics: Scientific management, Time and motion study, Frederick Winslow Taylor Pages: 5 (1374 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Essay on Frederick Winslow's Theory of Scientific Management

Management is an activity that occurs throughout every organization, be they social, political or commercial in nature. In fact, the field of management is a broad one, with various functions, principles and theories which are still being studied in the modern age. This essay firstly reviews the journal article by Professor Edwin A. Locke which is in itself a critique on the ideas of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the founder of scientific management. Lastly, through supporting academic articles and a contemporary example, this essay will attempt to critically analyse the key themes of the selected reading.

The key theme of the reading is focused on the applicability of Frederick Taylor’s concept of scientific management in present times. Scientific management can essentially be defined as a way of performing the work of management using a scientific and factual approach. It is based on the philosophy that both the attitudes of the workforce and the management have to be united as it only through unity that maximum productivity and consequently, maximum prosperity can be secured for both employer and employee (Taylor, 1997).

Scientific management has its fair share of critics however, with many suggesting that its techniques border on worker exploitation as well as the fact that it dehumanizes employees, treating them like machines. Furthermore, there are arguments that the concept was only relevant during the industrial revolution when there was a heavy emphasis on manpower and productivity. The introduction of technology and the current technological revolution has resulted in lower manpower requirements.

Locke, however, is a huge advocate of scientific management. He offers supporting accounts and examples from multiple sources to argue against the criticisms of this theory and further validates his opinion that most of Taylor’s insights concerning scientific management are still significant today.

According to Taylor, organizations can achieve maximum prosperity by integrating a variety of scientific management techniques. The first technique involves scientific selection, wherein it is suggested that the person with the highest aptitude for the job should be hired. Taylor is a firm believer in the concept of the “first class man”, that is, if an organization hires the person best suited for a specific task, it will in turn receive optimal performances.

The next few techniques are focused on the tenets of standardization and efficiency. To achieve maximum output, time and motion studies are used to break down a specific task in order to calculate the optimal period in which an employee can complete it. All employees in the organization should also use standardized working tools and procedures, specifically those that have been tested to be the most effective at accomplishing the stipulated tasks.

Furthermore, employees are also required to be purposefully trained by management experts who are thoroughly familiar with the job instead of experienced staff. Additionally, to promote self-expression and self-realization, employees should work individually instead of in groups. Lastly, employees should also be granted the benefits of higher wages along with shorter working hours and periodic breaks to inspire motivation and reduce job fatigue (Locke, 1982).

On the other hand, there are some fallacies directed towards Taylor’s techniques. According to Taylor, standardization is regarded as critical for achieving productive efficiency. However, it also comes at the cost of individuality and creative faculty, two factors which are integral in industrial leadership. “Massive standardized production is not an advance, from a human point of view, over skilled handicraft: it increases man’s power over matter; but it may diminish his power over himself” (Marshall, 1919). Furthermore, another adverse...
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