Scientific Management (850 Words)

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It could be said that Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management theory is still significantly relevant to management practices the 21st century. By analysing both critics and advocates of Taylor’s theory, we are able to gain a comprehensive insight into Taylor’s contribution to the improved productivity, higher efficiency and greater consistency in the current business world. In conjunction with this, suggestions have been made that scientific management exercises poor working conditions, dehumanizing effects and in this century is rather diminishing in importance. Considering both of these views allows for the development of understanding as to what extent scientific management has had a relevant impact on management practises throughout this century, while converging on its various flaws.

Fredrick Winslow Taylor, was born in 1856, it was during the time that Taylor worked as a consultant for Bethlehem Steel Works when his final development of scientific management became known and practised. Published in 1911, Taylor’s book labels his theory as: (1) the substitution of a science for the individual judgement of the workmen; (2) the scientific selection and development of the workmen, after each man has been studied, taught and trained…instead of allowing the workmen to select themselves and develop in a haphazard way; and (3) the intimate co-operation of the management with the workmen, so that they together do the work in accordance with the scientific laws which have been developed, instead of leaving the solution of each problem in the hands of the individual workmen. (Taylor, 1911, pp.114-115) Taylor completed his master’s degree in engineering and depicted his theory on this basis. According to Sheldrake “scientific management aimed to analyse and control the activities of people in the same way that engineers analysed and controlled machines.” (1996, pp. 23). From the late nineteenth century to the present day, the evolution of Taylor’s management theory has spread worldwide and revolutionised the way we manage people.

It is recognised that scientific management has a major contribution to universal management practises today and across many business sectors. Taylor’s theory when practised accordingly has demonstrated to improve productivity, increase efficiency and provide a greater consistency in the workplace. An example of this viewpoint can be found within Quick Beauty House, a large chain of hairdresser outlets located across Asia, “a modern day-application of scientific management principles has been integral to its success” (Schermerhorn, Davidson, Poole, Simon, Woods and Chau, Management, 2011, pp. 89). Through thorough monitoring and training of staff, improved productivity can be realised, where staff can perform to the best of their abilities. Furthermore, the Toyota Production System (TPS), an exceptionally successful automobile manufacturer, incorporates scientific management practices into the process of their mass production; “this is sometimes “hidden” secrets of TPS, but dates back to Lillian Gilbreth in 1914” (Towill, 2010, pp. 327). By applying Taylor’s theory it has been seen that a higher efficiency gain can be produced in turn providing a greater consistency in mass production. Research reinforces that scientific management, when fully and properly applied, inevitably contribute to the successful and level running of any business sector.

There are opposing views of scientific management practices as having dehumanising effects and restricting employee individual rights in the workplace as well as providing poor working conditions. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence of scientific management becoming dated in this century. A statement regarding Taylors’s theory and its effects on employee morale is discussed by Lewchuk, “An ongoing transformation from a model of hrm based on custom and experience, and a negligible regard for human life, to one rooted in “science and...
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