Principles of Scientific Management
and the Multiple Frames for Viewing
Work Organizations Offered by
Bolman & Deal, Carlson, and Pfeffer
Victor A. Montemurro
St. John’s University
Professor Frank Smith, Ed. D
Dr. Frederick Winslow Taylor in a speech called "The Principles of Scientific Management" delivered on March 3, 1915 to the Cleveland Advertising Club exhorts his audience to take on a new, revolutionary view of the way work should get done. To combat the time-ingrained attitude of workmen throughout the world that "it is in their best interest to go slow instead of fast," Taylor proposes four principles of the scientific management of work. He asserts that even though the average businessman believes that if workers were to go fast, thus increasing efficiency resulting in a money saving decrease of workforce, just the opposite would be true. Taylor believes increasing the efficiency of the workman scientifically would increase the not only the opportunity for more work, but also the real wealth of the world, happiness, and all manner of worthwhile improvements in the life of the working person. For Taylor, increased workman output will result in improved quality of life. Taylor, a mechanical engineer, seeks to apply a positivistic, rational perspective to the inefficient work organization. A second "misfortune of industry" that impedes the progress of improving work is what Taylor refers to as the "soldiering" of the worker, which essentially means to make a show of work not necessarily doing one's best. The worker tries to balance the inner conflict he feels as a result of worry about job security versus expectations of productivity. Taylor says that the worker is not to blame for soldiering since, even if given the opportunity to work harder with greater output, the effect on the labor market is such that rate of pay is cut. What incentive does management have to pay a man more wages, even for greater output, when another man will accept less for, albeit, less output. Taylor believes that scientific management of work will alleviate the common work problems of inefficiency, slow rate of work, and decreased productivity. Logically, according to Taylor’s view, soldiering would disappear as workers’ productivity and security improved. 3
Figure One: Four Principles of Scientific Management
The above chart illustrates Taylor's four principles of scientific management. Taylor is careful to assert that scientific management is no new set of theories that have been untried, a common misunderstanding. He says that the process of scientific management has been an evolution, and in each case the practice has preceded the theory. Further, scientific management is in practice in various industries: "Almost every type of industry in this country has scientific management working successfully." (Shafritz p.69) According to Taylor, the workman, on the average, in those industries where scientific management has been introduced, has turned out double the output and been the beneficiary of many improvements in working conditions.
Taylor’s principles of scientific management derive from the positivistic paradigm. Positivism attempts to view the world rationally, free of subjective values, applying logic and reductionism to the process of determining cause and effect. Taylor’s principles offer a method to gather information about the work process and the worker. The Four
sharing of a
division of the
selection and training workers according to a scientific approach attempts to bring together the worker and...