What are the main features of Taylor’s approach to ‘Scientific Management’, and what criticisms have been made of it? Do firms use Scientific Management today?
A term “Scientific production management” was initially introduced in the 1800s by the famous economist Adam Smith in his book “The Wealth of Nations”(Beechmont ) Later on, in 1911, American engineer Frederick Taylor made a research in this field and on its’ basis developed key principles that changed factory management and improved economic efficiency. These principles are presented in his monograph “The Principles of Scientific Management”(1911). The theory improved a link between workers and managers and significantly increased production efficiency in many companies. (Rose) Some people believe that Taylor’s work has become a fertile ground for new theories and researches or even herald ‘technocracy’, others differently criticise his idea. This essay will outline the main principles of Taylor’s theory, major obstacles for the efficient work, criticisms and usefulness of the theory in a modern life. The main technical prescriptions of “Scientific Management” can be separated into three broad sets. The first set is regarding the Labour selection and motivation. Taylor believed that the main obstacles for efficient work are the waste of time and resources caused by “soldering” and “slacking”. He used the term “soldering” to describe workers’ reluctance do the work in their full capacity caused by motivation lack, apathy or laziness. Taylor’s solution for this is to make appropriate incentives for workers so that they will be more motivated to work efficiently. In order to be more effective the incentives should be in the form of money such as extra wages (Rose, M. (1985), pp.31-33). Also Taylor believed that work should be performed by the ‘first-class men’. Example, the Bethlehem Steel factory, labour selection for pig-iron handling. According to Taylor, money encourages labour to work in a more productive way, which is linked with another idea, introduced by Taylor, called the 'fair day's pay’. The idea shows that paying worker his day wage, rather than month or year wage, will increase workers’ efficiency. The second set is about organisation structure and routine recommendations. In order to apply specialization at the supervisory level, Taylor developed the system of “functional foremanship”, where planning and execution are separated from each other and the job of planning is trusted to a specialized planning department. Taylor suggested that every worker should be supervised by different experts in different phases of his job. Example, office-shop, 4-4. Another idea called ‘Thinking Department’, which purpose was to oversee optimal material and sub-assembles routing, preparation of job-order tickets, pay-calculation and discipline. The last set is concerning Work measurement and Task designing. Not only workers’ but also managers’ efficiency was affected by his theory. Taylor assumed that managers do not have enough knowledge about the proper work of labour and their obligations. Managers, therefore, cannot maintain full control over the workers as employee had no reason and motivation to do overwork or even their own work productively as it didn’t affected their salary anyway. Taylor called this problem a “slacking”. He believed that the appropriate incentive scheme for workers as well as comprehensive manager’s knowledge of labour’s job would strengthen economic efficiency and overcome the problem of “slacking” and “soldiering”. One good example of it is Taylors’ another idea- a “work-study”. It was aimed to find the most efficient way of production by systematic recording of work efficiency that will make it easier. (Rose, M. (1985), pp.32-35) This scientific approach was mainly concentrated on method study, time study, fatigue generated, tools used. As well as simplifying the work and eliminating “useless” elements it developed better working...
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