Taylorism in the 21st Century

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Taylorism in the 21st century
In today’s world examples of Taylorism (scientific management) is not difficult to find in organisations all across the world; may it be in industries such as vehicle & computer manufacturing, customer service call centres and even some restaurants we eat in. These industries are functioning more effectively and efficiently by applying scientific management theory. It seems almost impossible to admit that Taylorism was ever so revolutionary only over 100 years ago as these principles that have been adapted to the workplace is so ordinarily common that unless an investigation into these industries, citizens would not know that an century old theory is still being applied in today’s modern world. Despite the fact that Scientific Management is an important part of the way organisations are managed in the 21st century, it needs to be noted that this theory of management has its limits due to the weaknesses it presents in the current modern world organisations. The purpose of this essay to attempt to highlight Taylorism’s four fundamental principles and how they are used in the 21st century as well as the criticisms of Taylor’s theory in today’s modern world.

Scientific Management principles:
Scientific Management was developed in 1890 by Fredrick W. Taylor in hopes to improve the efficiency of the labour workforce by subdividing the workforce to reach maximum productivity. For each job, a science was developed for each element so that it replaced the old ‘rule-of-thumb’ and managers selectively, using scientific measures, chose the workers for that particular job. Taylor had suggested that if managers observed the workers closely, it guaranteed that work was being completed within the elements Taylor had scientifically analysed and made certain that equal division of work & responsibility was established. Scientific management is based on a very strict hierarchy, each worker new their position in the workplace and to whom they had to answer to. This hierarchy was formed on the following four principles: Principle 1: Develop a science for each element of a job in order to replace the old rule-of-thumb – Taylor had established that labour productivity was inefficient as the workforce were using the ‘rule-of-thumb’ to complete their work, meaning workers went by guesswork instead of specific analytical measurements. The fundamental activity of developing the science was Taylor’s “proposed time and motion study”, as Maqbool, Zakariya & Paracha explains, “that was ‘one best way’ of performing tasks and to differentiate the best conditions, machines, tools and etc. The essence of time and motion study was that the human beings and their jobs were significant building blocks in the organization, and they could perform those tasks which machines could not perform (Maqboo, Zakariya, Paracha, 2011). By analysing the time it took for each worker to complete their work from start to finish, Taylor was able to conclude what a true fair days’ work was and the employees were compensated accordingly. Through this analysis, Taylor had established that the work was completed more efficiently when broken down into basic tasks. Management tasks such as planning and decision making was then developed at the top of the hierarchy. One cynical view Taylor had made was that he thought that the most workers were unable to make important decision due to a lack of education, as this quote suggests, “one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles […] the ox…therefore the workman… is unable to understand the real science of doing this class of work” (Taylor, 1998, p.28)

Principle 2: Once science is developed, managers scientifically select, train, teach and develop each worker to a specified task - Taylor’s scientific analysis continued as he studied the workers using the equipment that were...
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