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What is Scientific Management (Frederick Winslow Taylor)

Frederick Winslow Taylor

 
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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 industrializing organizations.

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 Management:

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 increase effectiveness.

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 scientific management.

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. 

 
 
 
 
Date Created: 2011-02-27
Posted by: Admin
 
 
 

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Reference(s)
 
The Principles of Scientific Management
Taylor, Frederick, W; (1911); New York: Harper
Keywords:
Online MBA, Online MBA Courses, Frederick Taylor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Scientific Management, Taylorism, soldiering, prductivity, effectiveness, one best way

 


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