Understanding Taylorism and Scientific Management Theory
Scientific management is the application of scientific methods of study and analysis of the organization to solve problems. Scientific methods of problem-solving approach include research, investigation, and experiment, collection of data, data analysis, and formulation of certain principles so as to solve organizational problems for goal achievement. The main purpose of scientific management theory is to improve labor productivity.
Scientific management theory is introduced by Fredrick Winslow Taylor to replace the traditional methods of management. Scientific Management is also known as Taylorism, they are synonyms. It is called Taylorism because of introduced by F.W. Taylor which emphasize labor efficiency.
In the traditional management system, management only searches for skilled and capable workers rather than improving the semi-skilled workers, thus Taylor claimed on workers’ skills improvement as the key to business growth. He argued an employee’s performance is increased through the proper training.
According to Frederick Winslow Taylor “Scientific management means knowing exactly what you want men to do and seeing that they do it in the best and cheapest way.”
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1915)
F.W. Taylor also known as the “Father of Scientific Management”, was one of the prominent scholars to introduce scientific management. In 1878, in the USA at the Midvale Steel Company Philadelphia, he worked as a foreman and become chief engineer through hard work and effort. Where he implemented the piecework pay system rather than paying all the employees the same wage.
Later, Taylor left Midvale and work as a consultant for several companies including Simonds Rolling Machine Company and Bethlehem Steel Company. He found the problem of productivity is the less mutual understanding between management and workers. In both companies he found the problem of fair days work and fair days pay. He saw productivity as the answer to increase both higher wages and higher profit.
He thought that there is a science for doing each job. He replaced the primitive rule of thumb method with modern scientific methods based on investigation, analysis, and measurement. Taylor’s Philosophies and ideas are given in his book “Principles of Scientific Management” published in 1911.
6 Principles of Scientific Management
Taylor developed numbers of principles, 6 principles of scientific management by F.W. Taylor are as follows;
#1 Development of Science in Each Element of Individual’s Work
The work assigned to each employee should be observed and analyzed in other to replace the old rule. The development of science in each element of an individual’s work requires that decisions should be made on the basis of facts rather than on opinions and beliefs.
#2 Scientific Selection, Training and Development of Workers
This principle suggests that workers should be selected and trained in accordance with the requirements of the job. The physical, mental, and other requirements should be specified for each job, and workers should be selected and trained to make them fit for the job.
#3 Close Co-operation Between Management and Workers
The interest of the employer and the employees should be fully harmonized to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Workers should understand that they can not perform their work without the existence of the management (organization) and management should understand that it has no identity without the existence of laborers.
#4 Equal Division of Works and Responsibility Between Management and Workers
The task and related responsibility should be clearly divided among workers and management. The management should decide the time required for doing the particular work, while the responsibility for actually doing work should be given to workers.
#5 Maximum Output in Place of Restricted Output
This principle is necessary for the prosperity of workers, owners, and also society. Maximum production ensures more wages to workers because of the piece-rate wage system. It also ensures more profit for the owners because more volume of production minimizes the cost per unit of output. In society, it upgrades the living standard of the people.
#6 Mental Revolution
There must be a mutual relation between workers and management and in relation to the work efforts. Mental revolution requires that management should create a suitable working environment and if there are problems resolve those problems scientifically.
Contribution of Scientific Management
Important contributions of scientific management to the field of management are;
- It helps to increase production by using modern machines and tools, by planning and controlling, and by optimum uses of resources.
- It seeks to minimize the cost of production, which increases the profit of the business firm.
- Helps to increase workes efficiency through proper consulting.
- Changes the attitudes of employees and employers towards the objectives of an organization.
- This leads to greater economic prosperity and improves the living standards of people.
- Emphasize training and development of workers, which helps to increase output and decrease in material wastage and time.
Limitations of Scientific Management
Major limitations of scientific management are;
- It emphasizes too much on technical aspects of work by ignoring human interest.
- It only focuses on the employee’s primary needs on economic terms. It has not mentioned the incentives besides the wages.
- Employees are forced to work on the same task time and again leading to monotony. Workers have no outside life.
- In the name of increasing efficiency workers are forced to speed up the process beyond their capacity.
- Workers are not allowed to take initiative.