Scientific management as developed by F. W. Taylor in the 1900s was a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. The term of scientific management is often considered synonymous with Taylorism. The main objective was to improve economic efficiency, especially labour productivity. As Taylor (1993) stated the general adoption of scientific management would readily in future double the productivity of the average man engaged in industrial work, resulting in an improved economy. He also believes that incorporating scientific management would bring less conflict between management and labour, because scientific management is bringing about fairness of treatment and increasing wealth for everyone. This essay is to discuss has the adoption of scientific management been successful outside the USA. Thereafter, we will make a contrast of the reception of Taylorism in Japan and Italy.
Taylorism in Japan
Nagakawa (1996) stated that in the past the average of a British worker was 5.3 times as productive as the Japan worker and American was 7.0 times. There was a need for Japan to implement Taylorism as fast as possible if they wanted to catch up with the productivity levels established by Westerners. Yukinori Hoshino (Director of Japan’s Kajima Bank of Osaka) was the first to encountered Taylor’s work as mentioned in Greenwood and Ross (2002). He was so impressed that he obtained permission to translate ‘The Principles of Scientific Management’.
Taylorism was introduced to Japan in the early 1910s as stated in Sasaki (2002). It was applied to industries like shipbuilding, cotton spinning and government-run factories in an attempt to improve and rationalise the manufacturing process. Among various companies whom have adopted Taylorism, I have chosen to discuss more in-depth about Mitsubishi Denki Kaisha (the Mitsubishi Electric Engineering Co. Ltd). During 1920s, some Japanese electrical manufacturers attempted to adopt formal or informal Taylorism following their cooperation with foreign counterparts. Referencing to Sasaki (2002), it seems important to note the condition of the market and the condition of the labour market.
Kobe Works was the first to apply the time and motion study methods and a scientific wage fixing system. This made an impact on the total value of output of electrical fans produced in Japan which rose from 500,000 yen in 1917 to about 1 million yen in 1918 and to about 3 million yen in 1919. This clearly indicates that this has given Japan an economic rise as they produced more value of goods. However, during the depression after the First World War, Sasaki (2002) the total output of electric fans fell to below 180,000 yen in 1923. Taking this fell in value of goods, it can be argued that it is not due to Taylorism, but the fall was due to the decrease in quantity demanded for those electric fans. Immediately after the earthquake of 1923, there was a rapid demand for domestic electric fans, this stimulated manufacturers to make even greater efforts to increase production.
During this period, Mitsubishi saw a need to set up a planning and control division with the objective of establishing a mass production system. Therefore, Kobe Works set up sections and subsections specialising in process and cost control which was essential to enlarge the quantity produced. Nobuo Noda, being at the administration side, in cooperated Taylorism. In the beginning, there were several wage rules at Kobe Works, which most workers worked on piece rates based on the rule of payment by results and with no guarantee of regular daily pay. With this indirect wage setting, he proposed the need to introduce time and motion studies for selected senior foremen.
After the implementation of time studies...