Compare Frederick Taylor's Mass Production and Eric Trists Socio-Technical Team Based Production Approaches to the Design of Work Systems

Topics: Employment, Scientific management, Management Pages: 5 (1661 words) Published: December 14, 2010
1) Compare Frederick Taylor’s mass production and Eric Trist’s socio-technical team-based production approaches to the design of work systems. a) What are the characteristics and key features of each? b) Discuss the fundamental differences between them including underlying theory, methods, principles, and role of management. c) Cover the advantages and disadvantages of each system – in which context does each perform best? d) What has led to the decline of mass production in the U.S., and how can socio-technical systems improve productivity and quality?

It is amazing how humans can steadily develop new and innovative ideas that help make the world a better place economically, physically, etc; From factories and work floors to management and office buildings, many approaches were used and disposed through the ever-changing economy and great demand of change and improvement; which in some cases lead to revolutionize certain industries of our economies around the world. Frederick Winslow Taylor is the developer of scientific management, or Taylorism. A book was published in 1911, called The Principles of Scientific Management. Then during the 1960’s Eric Trist developed Socio-Technical Systems. Socio-Technical Systems or STS is similar to Frederick Taylor’s concept of scientific management but eliminates bureaucracy in the workforce. In the following paragraphs I will explain the main characteristics and key features of each approach; the fundamental differences between them including underlying theories, methods, and principles; the disadvantages and advantages of each system; and what has led to the decline of mass production in the U.S. and how can STS improve productivity and quality. Taylor first started introducing scientific management through the Bethlehem Steel Company. Taylor and his team observed 75 pig-iron handlers, whom on averaged loaded 12.5 long tons per day, and each pig iron weighing about 92 pounds. Out of the 75 workmen Taylor chose one who he considered to be highly qualified of loading 47 tons of pig iron per day. Selection is one of many key characteristics of scientific management. In general scientific management entails finding the best method of doing work and at the lowest-cost. Management wants to achieve maximum production levels from their employees at the cheapest rate. Scientific management does not solely rely on the workmen because management prepares and plans how certain tasks of each job will be carried out it in its most efficient manner. Taylor writes, “The man in the planning room, whose specialty under scientific management is planning ahead, in variably finds that the work can be done better and more economically by a subdivision of the labor…an almost equal division of the responsibility and the work between the management and the workman” (38 Taylor). So in other words, the employee is being told what to do and how to do a job because management has already established the most effective way of completing each task. This differs from the socio-technical systems approach. In STS, instead of being told what to do and how to do a certain task, employees are exclusively on their own. Management is there to guide them in the right direction to make sure goals and business strategies are being met. These employees are highly skilled and they work together as group unlike in scientific management where each employee has their own individual jobs. Companies who use the STS approach find that the employees are multi-skilled and also have a low turnover rate. One main difference between Taylorism and STS is that Taylorism uses redundancy of parts and STS uses redundancy of functions. For example, in Ford’s Model-T assembly line there are employees who only work on certain parts of the car. One employee puts on the wheel, another puts on the windshield, and another puts on the door, etc. But in STS all the employees’ work as a team that may consist of three to ten person team...
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