Appropriateness of Applying Scientific Management Principles in a Knowledge-Based Economy

Topics: Management, Scientific management, Scientific method Pages: 7 (2045 words) Published: April 25, 2009
Consider the appropriateness of applying scientific management principles in a knowledge-based economy and its likely effect in establishing a learning organisation.

The early study of management as we know today began with what is now called the classical perspective. Scientific management that is the focus of this essay is branched from classical perspective. This essay will argue the annexation of scientific management concept to the context of knowledge-based economy and its effectiveness in the modern learning organisations. The essay will begin by explaining the background of scientific management followed by highlighting its core principles and the reason for its effectiveness that time. It will then explain the current changes that organisations went through proceeds by outlining the challenges today’s manager’s face. Scientific management highlights management practice through the prism of scientific approach in order to facilitate improvements in labour productivity or organisation efficiency. The root of this concept is traced back to 19th and early 20th century. In accordance with Dale (1963) scientific management a.k.a “Taylorism” was developed by Fredrick Taylor (1856-1917) although some variations of theory have been developed by Gantt and Gilbreth. Moragn (1997) in his writing about” images of organisations” stated that Taylor’s scientific management theory uses scientific observation to analyse human movements and subsequently restructure the workplace in such a way that minimum efforts result in maximum production. As a result of scientific management, productivity increased in the factories and general workplace and human beings entered the realm of mechanised work in which they worked with repetitive motion as if they were machines. Theory, whose roots are based on the scientific management model, is Fordism. This theory refers to the application of Henry Ford’s faith in mass production (Marcouse, 2003). With the passage of time scientific management which leads to dehumanisation of workers later initiated the criticism in scientific management theory. Though, this concept is still practised in some organisations with some modification in fast-food industry (McDonald), car and computer manufacturing industries, the work environments we go to everyday, and the hospitals we are treated in and even some of the restaurants we might eat in, almost all of them function more efficiently due to the application of Scientific Management (Sheldrake 2003). There are few organisations that still practice Taylorism to some extent, but its principles were heavily practised by organisation during industrialisation era. The elixir of scientific management’s success laid in its four core principles when it was introduced. What are scientific management principles and why were they effective when introduced?

Taylor’s principles of scientific management are actually originated from the positivistic paradigm. According to Carlson (1996) Positivism views the world rationally, free of biased values, causes and effects are determined through logic and reductionism. Taylor’s principles suggest a method to gather information about the work process and the worker. The Four Principles of Scientific Management along with its reasons for effectiveness are as follow; First Principle was based on Studying the way workers perform their tasks, gather all the informal job knowledge that workers possess, and trial with ways of improving how tasks are performed. To find out the most efficient method of performing specific tasks, Taylor studied in great detail and considered the ways different workers went about performing their everyday jobs. Once Taylor understood the existing way of performing a task, he then experimented to increase specialization (Taylor 1915). The reason for the success of this principle is that it made jobs simple for workers and having each worker perform fewer, more routine tasks. Taylor...
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