The Principles of Scientific Management and its Applications in Modern Day Organizations
Managers have been continuously trying to figure out the best way to manage the workplace since the start of the industrial revolution. The goal is to maximize production output and minimize cost therefore getting maximized profit while still keeping workers happy and motivated. Different methods have been introduced and tested. But perhaps one of the most influential and popular ideas in management is ‘scientific management’ or ‘taylorism’ as people know it. Taylorism, along with fordism, which follows after, are considered to be the classical work organization. The reason behind this is because; these ideas correspond to the first contributions to management theory, and also they can recognize ideas and issues within contemporary organizational behaviour and management literature (Ed. RMIT University 2012). This essay is going to discuss the key elements of ‘scientific management’ and Frederick taylor’s approach to it, and also talk about how can it be applied to management practice in modern-day organizations.
Frederick Winslow Taylor is the founder of scientific management. He was born on March 20, 1856 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (A+E networks, Frederick W Taylor Biography, 2012). “He was born in a wealthy family with a lot of connections to smooth out his way through life” as said in (Kanigel 1997). Taylorism is defined as ‘a way of shaping the division of work into its minimum possible skill elements, and how the process of carrying out each task can be uniformed to attain maximum efficiency’ (Ed. RMIT University 2012). Taylor’s idea of scientific management came to him because of the condition of a lot of the workers, and also the state of management and work organizations at the time. He believed these workers are only motivated by money, which in turn makes them not do their best at their job, but just do as much as they think is appropriate based on the amount of pay they are getting. Taylor called this behaviour as ‘soldiering’ (Taylor 1911). Taylor (1911) wrote that there are three causes for soldiering:
First, the erroneous belief that the materials increase in each man’s or each machine’s output in the trade would therefore lead to the consequence in a lot of men losing their job.
Second are the defective systems of management that were a common use at the time. The system made the workers having the need to soldier so to protect their own best interest. To give a clearer explanation, this is because of the erroneous belief stated in the first reason, a workman would, for example, ‘soldier’ in order to do the same amount of job as his lazy workmate because he is getting the same amount of pay, and also to protect the workmate from getting thrown out of job. Another reason is because the relationship between managers and workers, where the workers see the managers as their enemy and they soldier to deliberately mislead and deceive their employer. Some of the workmen are just lazy because they think that if they do more work, it means that they are getting paid less by the hour.
Third, it is the rule-of-thumb method that was used at the time, in the smallest details of the work in every line of work. He then stated that the substitution of scientific management for rule-of-thumb method would save an enormous amount of time, therefore increasing output by removing unnecessary motions and in turn adding fast and efficient motions.
Taylor believed that the best type of management, which was in common use at the time, could be defined as “management in which the workmen give their best initiative and in return receive some special incentive from their employer.”(Taylor 1911). He then pointed out that scientific management is far superior to other types of management.
Taylor’s idea of scientific management is based on his 5 principles (Ed. RMIT University, 2012).
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