Identify and Compare the Contributions of Taylor, Fayol and Mayo to Management Today.

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Identify and compare the contributions of Taylor, Fayol and Mayo to management today.


This essay outlines the main contributions of Taylor, Fayol and Mayo to the study of management. It then evaluates the contribution of these writers to management as it is practiced today. It does this by discussing in turn their work, explicitly and implicitly drawing comparisons between them. It argues that the various contributions reflect the differing circumstances and needs of the theorists, and are complementary in their contributions to modern management.

Management is essential to organized human endeavor, and as such has been practiced for thousands of years (for example see Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter, 2000, p. 41; Lock and Farrow, 1988, p.4). It is however, only since the early part of the twentieth century that management has been formally studied (Robbins et al., 2000, p. 41).

Frederick W. Taylor (1856-1917), Henri Fayol (1841-1925) and Elton Mayo (1880-1949) are recognized as important early management theorists, although each built to some extent on the work of earlier writers (for example, see Koontz and O'Donnell, 1972, p. 21; Robbins et al., 2000, pp. 51-54). They are recognized not only for their own contributions, but as founders of recognized schools of management thought, and as important influences on later theorists (Lock and Farrow, 1988, p. 4).


Many writers see the publication of ‘Principles of Scientific Management' by Taylor in 1911 as the beginning of modern management theory (for example, Robbins et al., 2000, p. 43; Massie, 1979, p.13), and his book as "perhaps the publication that has influenced management more than any other" (Lock and Farrow, 1988, p. 4). He is recognized as the ‘father of scientific management" (Lock and Farrow, 1988, p. 5), and perhaps his main contribution was "his insistence upon the application of scientific method" (Koontz and O'Donnell, 1972, p. 22). It is said that he helped managers move "out of the realm of intuition, toward conscious analysis" (Mintzberg, 1989, p. 55).

Taylor drew upon his own experience working (first as a worker, and then as a mechanical engineer) in American industrial enterprises in the latter part of the nineteenth century (Robbins et al., 2000, p. 43; Massie, 1979, p. 16).

Taylor was struck by the inefficiency of industrial enterprises, and the antagonism between workers and management. ‘Scientific management' was a means of addressing these issues (Pugh and Hickson, 1989, p. 91). He was vitally concerned with improving the production efficiency of industrial enterprises, and with the role of managers in achieving this end. The main object of management is to "secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity of each employee" (Taylor, quoted in Pugh and Hickson, 1989, p90).

Taylor devised four ‘principles of management' to achieve his aims - "replacing rule-of-thumb methods with scientific determination of each element of a man's job; scientific selection and training of workmen; cooperation of management and labor to accomplish work in accordance with scientific method; and a more equal division of responsibility between managers and workers" (Koontz and O'Donnell, 1972, p. 22, see also Robbins et al., 2000, p. 44; Massie, 1979, p. 16).

His ideas were quickly and widely adopted by American industry, and later by other industrialized nations (Robbins et al., 2000, p. 45). However, he faced considerable opposition in his lifetime, particularly from organized labor (due to the real and imagined effect on employment), and appeared before a congressional committee in 1911. There he outlined in some detail his ideas, based on examples of his work (Taylor, 1947, pp. 39-73; Massie, 1979, p. 16). Taylor's methods can still be seen in modern workshop practice (Lock and Farrow, 1988, p. 4).

Taylor also had some interest in organizational structure,...
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