The American Frederick W. Taylor (1856–1915) pioneered the scientific management approach to work organization, hence the term Taylorism. Taylor developed his ideas on work organization while working as superintendent at the Midvale Steel Company in Pennsylvania, USA. Taylorism represents both a set of management practices and a system of ideological assumptions. The autonomy (freedom from control) of craft workers was potentially a threat to managerial control. For the craft worker, the exercise of control over work practices was closely linked to his personality, as this description of ‘craft pride’, taken from the trade journal Machinery in 1915, suggests:
As a first-line manager, Taylor not surprisingly viewed the position of skilled shop-floor workers differently. He was appalled by what he regarded as inefficient working practices and the tendency of his subordinates not to put in a full day’s work, what Taylor called ‘natural soldiering’. He believed that workers who did manual work were motivated solely by money – the image of the ‘greedy robot’ – and were too stupid to develop the most efficient way of performing a task – the ‘one best way’. The role of management was to analyse ‘scientifically’ all the tasks to be undertaken, and then to design jobs to eliminate time and motion waste. Taylor’s approach to work organization and employment relations was based on the following five principles: •
maximum job fragmentation
separate planning and doing
separate ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ labour
a minimization of skill requirements
a minimization of handling component parts and material. The centrepiece of scientific management is the separation of tasks into their simplest constituent elements – ‘routinization of work’ (the first principle). Most manual workers were viewed as sinful and stupid, and therefore all decision-making functions had to be removed from their hands (the second principle). All prepa-ration and servicing tasks...
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