Scientific Management

Topics: Management, Scientific management, Frederick Winslow Taylor Pages: 7 (2238 words) Published: July 31, 2010
Scientific management is a theory of management that analysis and synthesizes workflows, with the objective of improving labour productivity. The core ideas of the theory were developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s, and were first published in his monographs, Shop Management (1905) and The Principles of Scientific Management (1911). He began trying to discover a way for workers to increase their efficiency when he was the foreperson at the Midvale Steele Company in 1875. Taylor believed that decisions based upon tradition and rules of thumb should be replaced by precise procedures developed after careful study of an individual at work. Its application is contingent on a high level of managerial control over employee work practices. Taylorism is a variation on the theme of efficiency; it is a late 19th and early 20th century instance of the larger recurring theme in human life of increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, and using empirical methods to decide what matters, rather than uncritically accepting pre-existing ideas of what matters. Thus it is a chapter in the larger narrative that also includes, for example, the folk wisdom of thrift, time and motion study, Fordism, and lean manufacturing. It overlapped considerably with the Efficiency Movement, which was the broader cultural echo of scientific management's impact on business managers specifically. In management literature today, the greatest use of the concept of Taylorism is as a contrast to a new, improved way of doing business. In political and sociological terms, Taylorism can be seen as the division of labour pushed to its logical extreme, with a consequent de-skilling of the worker and dehumanisation of the workplace.

Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), developer of scientific management General approach
Shift in decision making from employees to managers
Develop the one best way as a standard method for performing each job •Select workers with appropriate abilities for each job
Train workers in the standard method previously developed •Support workers by planning their work and eliminating interruptions •Provide wage incentives to workers for increased output

A slide rule created by Carl G. Barth, a co-worker of Frederick W. Taylor, for turning work, about 1904 •Scientific approach to business management and process improvement •Importance of compensation for performance

Began the careful study of tasks and jobs
Importance of selection criteria by management
Perspective of improving the productivity and efficiency of manual workers Elements
Labour is defined and authority/responsibility is legitimised/official •Positions placed in hierarchy and under authority of higher level •Selection is based upon technical competence, training or experience •Actions and decisions are recorded to allow continuity and memory •Management is different from ownership of the organization •Managers follow rules/procedures to enable reliable/predictable behaviour

The strongest reaction against scientific management methods was from the workers who found the work boring and requiring little skill. The strike at Watertown Arsenal led to an investigation of Taylor's methods by a House of Representatives Committee which reported in 1912. The conclusion was that scientific management did provide some useful techniques and offered valuable organisational suggestions, but gave production managers a dangerously high level of uncontrolled power. Taylor's methods were banned by the Senate after an attitude survey was held among the workers, which revealed a high level of resentment and hostility towards scientific management. •Did not appreciate the social context of work and higher needs of workers. •Did not acknowledge variance among individuals.

Tended to regard workers as uninformed and ignored their ideas and suggestions. Mass production...
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