Multiple aspects of Frederick Taylor’s theories and practices continue to have relevance in the contemporary management functions of planning, leading, organising and controlling, and in the employee-employer relationships. Taylor developed a scientific approach to managerial decision making based on proven fact rather than tradition, guess work, precedent and opinion. His techniques included: time and motion study, standardized tools and procedures, the task, money bonus, individualized work, management responsibility for training, scientific selection and shorter working and rest pauses. He viewed money as the key motivator, believed in authoritarianism, specialisation of labour and was criticised for his treatment of men as machine (Locke, 1982). Many of these principles exist today in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing environments in part or whole.
Taylor’s principles of time and motion study and standardized tools and procedures are evident in contemporary management functions of planning. By dismantling the work task into its constituent elements and motions, Taylor eliminated wasted motions and ultimately formulated “the one best way” work would be done (Taylor, 1912/1970). (Wren, 1994). This enabled floor layouts, equipment purchases, production flow, resourcing and material/production flows to be planned accordingly for the most efficient use of equipment and materials. Stemming from strategic planning, optimisation of productivity and efficiency can be achieved through the standardization of tools. Standardization has also been extended beyond the sphere of tool use to include other types of organizational procedures, especially in large firms (Locke, 1982). Contemporary examples include the redesign of machines and equipment to enable workers to become more skilled (Locke, 1982), and therefore enhance performance throughout daily operations.
Contemporary management uses advanced information technology to assist it to organise work. Taylor applied time and motion study, task and shorter working hours and rest pauses, and the elimination of waste to maximise productivity, efficiency and reduce fatigue. What Taylor measured with a stopwatch, computerisation now provides at the fingertips of modern managers, so that activity based costing, just in time principles, management accounting methods and performance data is now readily and quickly available to enable organisations to respond quickly so changes in their environment. Taylor proposed the assigning of a specific amount of work to each individual, of a certain quality, each day based on the results of the time and motion study. This quota, called the “task” (Taylor, 1911/1967) was a forerunner of modern day goal-setting (Locke, 1982), and an extremely important aspect of management, as virtually every contemporary theory of or approach to motivation now acknowledges the importance of goal setting either implicitly or explicitly (Locke, 1978). Management by objectives and the setting of challenging, specific goals in maximising efficiency and effectiveness are not limited to manufacturing environments but utilised across all sectors.
Perhaps Taylor’s greatest contribution to the modern management was to the control function. By implementing his scientific management principles of time and motion, standardised tools and procedures and individualised work. Monitoring the time and motion evaluation of “the task” allows management to postulate a systematic approach using detailed instructions for the employees to achieve maximum performance ( Taylor, 1911) The establishment of ISO quality standards and procedures within organisations continue to reflect the ‘one best way’. Lean manufacturing in the United States was a classic example of Taylor’s influence. Taylor founded the principles of modern management accounting through his focus on waste elimination and measurement informed decision making. With the help of advances in information...
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