Scientific Management

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Is ‘Scientific Management’ still relevant in a predominantly service economy? Discuss. Scientific management, or Taylorism, is a set of principles regarding the management of an organisation developed by F.W. Taylor in 1911 in his book Principles of Scientific Management. It revolutionised the processes in factories and greatly alleviated collapsing economies in the early 1900s. Scientific management involved a process of division and specialisation, essentially, the creation of a production line, designed to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. While it has unquestionable advantages when applied to the right situations, Australia’s increasingly dominating service economy leads scientific management to be no longer relevant. The service industry is fast changing, evolving and growing, requiring workers to enhance their communication skills, and to think creatively to deal with the individual and unique circumstances of each client. Scientific management removes the human qualities that breeds flexibility, innovation and efficiency and degrades the overall utility of the production of a good for both the individual and the organisation as a whole.

While it is obvious that scientific management can greatly improve technical efficiency in the short term, in the long term, it is likely to create inefficiencies in the workplace (Caldari, 2007, p68), especially in a service economy. Due to the rigid system that Taylorism fosters, the organisation becomes inflexible. Workers are entrenched in their singular and repetitive tasks, which would be ideal in a static economy, however, as the economy and the industry evolve, organisations too must adapt to the changes in demand. Any changes that management implement will be troublesome and require time to be put into practice, as workers are given new tasks that they are unlikely to have performed before.

Such inflexibility also impedes individuality, creativity and innovation. The great resistance to...
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