The Scientific Management approach was initially described and theorized by Frederick
Winslow Taylor in the in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In his
book “Principles of Scientific Management”, first published in 1911,
Frederick Taylor formulated a view on management that was highly inspired by engineering
principles. As such, the studies of Frederick Taylor can be seen as a culmination
of a series of developments occurring in western industrialized countries, in
which engineers took the lead in developing manufacturing productivity and in
Frederick Taylor developed Scientific Management out of the belief that tasks
could be optimized scientifically, and that Scientific Management could design
the best rational way of performing any task, which would lead to enhanced productivity
and profitability. Enhanced productivity would not only lead to greater profits
for the employers, but also for the workers, who would be given the tools and
training to perform at optimum performance.
The development of best practices should be based on detailed observation of
work processes, and on vigorous training and selection of the best suited workers.
Frederick Taylor identified 4 principles of Scientific
Develop a science of work
The science of work would be achieved by measuring output, and by performing
detailed studies of time and human movement. With these studies, improvements
could be made to the tools and workstation designs used by workers, which would
Scientific selection and training
Workers should be scientifically selected and trained. Frederick Taylor theorized
that workers had different aptitudes, and that each worker should be fitted
to the job. The task of management was therefore to select the workers fitting
to the specific job, and also to scientifically train every worker in the most
productive way of performing the specific task. By doing this correctly, every
worker would be selected and trained to achieve his/her utmost potential.
Educate workers and managers in the benefits of Scientific Management
Both workers and managers should be educated in understanding the benefits of
Specialization and collaboration between workers and managers
Management should focus on developing, designing and supervising improved systems,
whereas workers should concentrate on performing their manual duties. If everyone
fulfils their respective role, no conflict would arise between management and
workers, since the Scientific Management approach would find the best solution
for all parties concerned.
Frederick Taylor strongly believed that the Scientific Management approach
would solve conflicts between workers and managers, and that the approach had
the potential of highly increasing the productivity of organizations. However,
many were not supporting his ideas. Several managers were threatened by the
approach, since many supervisory jobs would be rendered useless if work was
highly standardized. Likewise, workers were not pleased with the approach, since
many jobs would be terminated when increasing productivity. Lastly, critics
thought Scientific Management to be inhuman, since workers were believed to
be reduced to bolts and nut in the industrial machine.
Despite all criticism, Taylorism had a huge impact on the industrialization
process in the western world, and many companies have adopted Frederick Taylor’s
ideas over time. Taylorism can be seen performed in many modern companies, such
as fast food restaurants, today, and is oftentimes highly reflected in the work processes
of many modern service and manufacturing companies.