Describe and critique the Scientific Management approach pioneered by Frederick Taylor
Who Is Frederick W. Taylor?
Criticisms of Scientific Management
Neo - Taylorism
This study aims to analyze and discuss both industrial benefits and social implications of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management approach. A brief biography of the “Father of Efficiency” will be outlined, followed by an overview of Frederick Taylor’s framework for Scientific Management. Discussions within will focus on positive effects of production with the aid of scientific management and the negative social repercussions that follow. Lastly, personal views and impacts of scientific management on today’s capitalist society will be discussed.
Who Is Frederick W. Taylor?
Frederick Taylor was an American industrial engineer, also known as the father of scientific management. He was constantly looking to improve efficiency, discipline and standardization through studying the movements and motions of labourers up to the 1930s. Frederick Taylor’s work was more commonly known as Taylorism, motion studies, or efficiency research. Taylor was a superintendent, and later chief engineer at Midvale steel factory, which was also the birth place of Taylorism, a management framework that would shape the world. (Wren, 1994)
Frederick Taylor, like Adam Smith, based theories and practices on the assumption that workmen were lazy and extrinsically motivated by money by nature. (eds Smith & Cannan, 2003). Terminology associated with laziness during work is the act of “soldiering”, where workmen deliberately work slowly to avoid a full day’s work. Taylor (1911) classified soldiering into two categories, natural soldiering and systematic soldiering. Taylor, during his employment at Midvale factory, attributed soldiering of workmen to three different reasons. Baseless assumptions that increasing productions always lead to retrenchment of their fellow colleagues. In addition, labor unions forced workers to work slowly to protect their own interests. Lastly, rule-of-thumb methods which had been handed down from generations of laborers were inefficient and unquestioned. (Wren, 1994) Taylor (1997) describes scientific management as an incorporation of science into labour processes. He based scientific management on several fundamental principles. Distinct division of tasks and responsibilities between management and labourers, application of science in determining the best way of completing a task efficiently, selection of people for a particular job, training of workmen to perform a task in a specific manner and lastly, constant watch of workmen through the use of supervisors (Taylor, 1947). According to Taylor, (1947) management should always been responsible for the efficiency of workers. The division between the “mental and menial” described a shift in responsibility of efficiency from workmen to management. As a result management controlled ideas and innovation while employees concentrated solely on producing and following instructions of the management. Taylor (1947) also reinforced “job fragmentation”, where tasks were broken down to simple and repetitive steps as much as possible, causing the obsolescence of skilled craftsmen. “Job specialization” was the idea of improving efficiency and speed of each worker through repetitive and routinized motions. This led to the ease of replacing and training workers. A “Piece-rate” system, where rewards were proportional to productivity was also put in place to discourage workers from soldiering. Fordism
Scientific management is best observed and applied during 1917 where Henry Ford, the father of mass production and the assembly line used methods and ideologies almost identical to that of Frederick Taylor’s. Ford revolutionized car-making...
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