Frederick Taylor's Contribution to the Evolution of Management Thoughts

Topics: Management, Hawthorne effect, Scientific management Pages: 9 (2065 words) Published: June 21, 2013
Appendix a: History of management thought


The systematic study of management began during the latter decades of the nineteenth century, after the industrial revolution had swept through Europe and America.

• With the introduction of steam power and sophisticated machinery and equipment, the industrial revolution changed the way things were produced. Large factories operated by semi-skilled or unskilled workers were replacing small shops run by craftsmen.

• Owners and managers of the new factories found themselves unprepared for the challenges that accompanied the shift away from crafts production. Because they were unprepared for the social problems that occur when people work together in large groups, they began to search for new managerial techniques.


• Frederick W. Taylor (1856 – 1915) is best know for defining the techniques of scientific management, which is the systematic study of relationships between people and tasks for the purpose of redesigning the work process to increase efficiency.

• He believed that the production process could be made more efficient by using specialization and the division of labor to reduce the amount of time and effort expended by each worker to produce a unit of output.

• He also believed that the best way to determine the most efficient division of labor was by using scientific management techniques, rather than intuition or informal rule-of-thumb knowledge.

• Based on his experiments and observations, he developed the following four principles:

Principle 1: Study the way workers perform their tasks, gather all the informal job knowledge possessed by workers, and experiment with ways of improving the way tasks are performed to increase efficiency. One of Taylor’s main tools was the time and motion study, which involves the careful timing and recording of the actions taken to perform a particular task.

Principle 2: Codify the new methods of performing tasks into written work rules and standard operating procedures. Once the best method of performing a particular task was determined, it should be recorded so that the procedures could be taught to all workers performing the same task.

Principle 3: Carefully select workers to ensure that they possess the skills and abilities that match the needs of the task and train them to perform the tasks according to the established rules and procedures.

Principle 4: Establish a fair or acceptable level of performance for a task and then develop a pay system that provides a higher reward for performance above the acceptable level.

• By 1910, Taylor’s system of scientific management had become widely practiced. The most common problems associated with scientific management were: 1) managers did not share gains in performance with workers through bonuses, and 2) the specialized, simplified jobs were monotonous and repetitive, resulting in job dissatisfaction.

• Taylor’s work, however, has had an enduring impact on the management of production systems.


Max Weber, a German professor of sociology, outlined his five famous principles of bureaucracy – a formal system of organization and administration designed to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. They are:

• Principle 1: In a bureaucracy, a manager’s formal authority derives from the position he or she holds in an organization. Authority is the legitimate power to hold people accountable for their actions. Authority gives managers the legal right to direct and control their subordinates’ behavior.

• Principle 2: In a bureaucracy, Weber believed that people should occupy positions based on their performance rather than social standing or personal contacts.

• Principle 3: Weber argued that the extent of each position’s formal authority and task responsibilities, and its...
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