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Posted on June 25th, 2012, by

Frederick Taylor was one of the founders of the management theory. He was one of the first theorists who attempted to lay a scientific ground to management. It is worth mentioning the fact that the development of Taylor’s theory was a kind of response to the rapidly progressing industrialization and introduction of new approaches and methods of production. The industrialization encouraged the development of mass production that naturally implied the introduction of new methods of management as well. At the same time, the industrialization and mass production led to the introduction of assembling line production, which first introduced by Henry Ford. In such a situation, Frederick Taylor’s ideas proved to be particularly useful and, in a way, it is possible to estimate that it is Frederick Taylor who encouraged Henry Ford to introduce his assembling line production.

In fact, the development of the Scientific Management was grounded on the development of manufacturing and mass production, which implied the development of specific skills in employees. On analyzing the current mode of production, Frederick Taylor arrived to the conclusion that the maximization of efficiency and productivity of employees is possible on the condition of the development and permanent improvement of their professional skills and abilities. He stood on the ground that the training of specific skills and abilities can increase productivity and efficiency of work. At the same time, the Scientific Management methods called for optimizing the way that tasks were performed and simplifying the jobs enough so that workers could be trained to perform their specialized sequence of motions in the best way (Breneman & Taylor, 1996). In such a way, the main principle, the milestone of the Scientific Management was a purely mechanical training of employees to perform their tasks at their best.

On the other hand, Taylor warned against soldiering, which could annihilate positive effects of training. By soldiering he implied the phenomenon of workers’ purposely operating well below their capacity (Benfari, 1999).

He attributed this phenomenon to three causes. The first cause was the almost universally held belief among workers that if they became more productive, fewer of them would be needed and jobs would be eliminated. In such a way, employees feared of losing their jobs because of a higher productivity. The second cause, according to Taylor, was non-incentive wage systems, which encourage low productivity if the employee will receive the same pay regardless of how much is produced, assuming the employee can convince the employer that the slow pace is really good pace for the job. Hence, Taylor believed that employees had never worked at the good pace for fear that this faster pace would become the new standard. However, this problem can be easily solved by introducing per-quantity payment system. Finally, the third cause was the workers’ reliance on rule-of-thumb methods rather than reliance on optimal work methods. To solve this problem, Taylor suggested using the scientific study of the task (Benfari, 1999).

In such a way, Frederick Taylor believed that the efficiency of management can increase substantially if scientific study and methods are applied. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that Taylor believed that even the most routine and mindless tasks could be planned in a way that increases the efficiency and productivity substantially. Eventually, Taylor developed four basic principles of the Scientific Management (Gitlow, 1997): 1) replace rule-of-thumb work methods by methods based on a scientific study of tasks; 2) scientifically select, train, and develop each worker rather than passively leaving them to train themselves; 3) cooperate with workers to ensure that the scientifically developed methods are being followed; 4) divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks. All these principles proved to be very popular and they were applied in many factories in the early 20th century.

However, the Scientific Management had a number of drawbacks. In this respect, one of the major drawbacks was the view on employees as tools, which managers use to maximize the organizational performance through the growth of efficiency and productivity of their work. In addition, the Scientific Management’s principles increased the monotony of work, which proved to be very tiresome for employees. As a result, the application of the Scientific Management methods led to the contrary results and, instead of increasing productivity, employers got poorer productivity because employees grew tired of monotonous work. Moreover, in the Scientific Management, the core job dimensions of skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback all were missing. In addition, as the role of human resources has started to increase by the late 20th century and the creativity and independence of employees have become major virtues of employees, traditional methods of the Scientific Management proved to be inefficient giving in to new theories which were more adapted to a new business and organizational environment.

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