1st Formal, Assessed, Essay Topic:
Scientific Management was the product of 19th Century industrial practices and has no relevance to the present day. Discuss.
“In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first” said Frederick Winslow Taylor, creator of a new management theory: Scientific management or Taylorism. It emerged in the end of the 19th century in the industrial context and was experimented and then applied in plants. This organisation of the workflow is based on some principles. First, the use of science to evaluate each task in order to establish ‘scientific laws’ about how to do each particular part of the work. The managers, using time and motion studies and precise measurements of the workplace, of the workers themselves, decide “the one best way” for the workers to execute the tasks. This is the standardization of work. Scientific management promotes co-operation over individualism. Interests of employers and employees are not antagonist, they are one and the same, prosperity for employer can not exist without employee’s one (F.W. Taylor, 1911). The managers attempt to theorize employees’ work and supervise them. This is also creating harmony within the company: all work groups should work together, in a team spirit. It is also based on the specific training of the workers for the task they have been assigned to. Taylorism’s principal aim is to achieve the maximum productivity by promoting the development of each employee. During the 19th and 20th century, scientific management resulted in massive production cost reductions, increases in profit, productivity and improvement in working conditions, environment. Although it has revolutionised management theories, these methods were developed for the last century with different industry, social relations and global aims. Thus we can discuss if scientific management has or not relevance to the present day.
‘Today, the challenges for management have changed significantly, and the principles of “scientific management” are not applicable to the same extent as before in the industrial society’ (C. Grönroos, 1994:10). Indeed, due to the evolution of the society, taylorism could be considered as out-dated. Firstly, from the 19th century to the present day, we have gone from an industrial economy to a service one. It has incurred huge changes in management systems. The major aims of companies have evolved a lot. For example, managers are no longer looking for the way to increase production as more as possible. There are new objectives, in accordance with evolution of demand from consumers whose lifestyles have evolved: today, we don’t have the same needs as a century ago and neither have we the same sense of priorities regarding to our consumption or ‘must have’ products. Therefore the general work organization had to change and has. Management strategies now advocate quality of products over quantity in a consumer society with standardized mass-market products where companies now have to differentiate their products. Original scientific management (as it was at the time) has thus no relevance nowadays as it has been developed in the objective of producing more for the lowest costs and is for example associated with low quality. From the defaults of taylorism have emerged new management principles. The dehumanization brought by it is rejected today. Indeed there were lots of criticisms regarding to that aspect. ‘Man was literally equated with machine and his motives and desires had no place in the scientific management. The theory was not people oriented. Man was considered a rational being and not the emotional being. It induced in the minds of workers to work more and earn more that reduced them to the level of machines. Very little attention was paid to the welfare, security and health of the employees, if any.’(V.G. Kondalkar, 2007:21). The repeatability of the tasks made workers seem as tools and not really humans, they...
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