Use of Scientific Management in the 21st Century

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Use of Scientific Management in the 21st Century
Roberta Larkins
Jones International University
April 14, 2010


The 19th and 20th Century gives the foundation of the shift in management modeling. Frederick Taylor, Henry Gantt, and Lillian Gilbreth gave great insight into the need for a paradigm shift in business. The elements of this shift form the basis of the four principles of Scientific Management. The principles of Scientific Management and their use in the 21st Century are the elements of this paper.

Use of Scientific Management in the 21st Century

The management of an organization that has a structural system which clearly defines the functions of the departments, groups, and individuals can be defined by the term Scientific Management originated by Frederick Taylor. (Nelson, 2003, p.1) The Encyclopedia for Business (n.d.) defines Scientific Management as “methods aimed at determining the best way for a job to be done. (n.d., pg 6). While the initial use of Scientific Management in dealing with issues of efficiency and productivity is rooted in the history of management theory during the 19th Century and early in the 20th Century, the same organizational needs are evident in business today and the usage of the fundamentals of Scientific Management can be used to effectively increase both efficiency and productivity in a 21st Century organization.

The Pioneers

Frederick Taylor, known as ‘the most influential business guru of the 20th century’ (154), began his journey into business in an apprenticeship to a patternmaker for a pump manufacturing company in Philadelphia.(Wren, 2004, 121) It is here Taylor has the opportunity to see firsthand what the employees are experiencing and make note of the elements of discourse. Wren describes the conditions as "worker restriction of output, poor management, and lack of harmony between labor and management" (2004, p.122). As Taylor continued to advance in his career, he stood witness to instances of these same conditions in the employees at Midvale Steel Company. It is during this time in his career along with his desire to change those working conditions that he began the work in Scientific Management that allows him to make his mark in managerial history.

Henry Gantt, also a mechanical engineer, worked with Taylor for many years and both were partners in the development the concept of scientific management, although Taylor is more widely recognized for the model. Gant’s influence provided fuel for a better understanding of human nature in the workforce by improving employee representation plans , improving the practices of human-resources, and cooperation by labor-management,. (Wren, 2004, p.165) The human side of management is also the focus of works by Lillian Gilbreth, who is often called the first lady of management. (Pioneers of Management, n.d., p7). Together they were the driving force in the use of Scientific Management and the creation of human resource principles within an organization. The Fundamentals

Taylor viewed business as “a system of human cooperation that will be successful only if all concerned work toward a common goal” (Wren, 2004, p.125). The four principles of Scientific Management address the initial concerns that Taylor witnessed. Hodgetts and Greenwood (1995) share the four fundamentals as (1) Develop a science for each element of the person’s work, thus replacing the old rule of thumb, (2) Scientifically select, and then train, teach, and develop the worker, (3) Heartily cooperate with the personnel so as to insure that all of the work is done in accordance with the principles of the science that it has been developed, and (4) Management should take over all the work for which it is best fitted than the workers, and allow the latter to handle the rest.(1995, p. 218-221) These fundamentals can also transfer into the resolution of the original conditions by increasing worker...
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