Scientific management is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity.
Scientific management, also called Taylorism, is the application of Frederick Taylor’s theory to the workplace to improve economic efficiency. Taylor published “The Principles of Scientific Management” in 1911, which explains his process of using scientific studies to analyze, optimize and standardize workflow.
Frederick Winslow Taylor began the theory’s development in the United States during the 1880s and 1890s within manufacturing industries, especially steel.
The scientific theory of management focuses on individual efficiency and productivity. The father of this theory is Fredrick Winslow Taylor (1890-1940), from his text Principles of Scientific Management (1911). His proposal was to apply principles of the scientific method to the practice of management. His influence is such that the scientific theory of management is often referred to as Taylorism.
The objective of the scientific theory is to increase production within an organization by increasing the productivity of the individual. Taylor envisioned one best way to perform an organizational task.
Taylor’s research focused on repetitive, routine tasks – rather than complex or problem-solving activities. Each task was carefully specified and measured. If these tasks could be standardized they could be made more efficient. For example, these types of activities could be largely automated through the introduction of technology.
Taylor employed timing measures to routine tasks to identify efficiencies and reduce wasted effort. He also sought to optimize equipment or resources employed in these routine tasks. By customizing equipment (or technology) he was able to add efficiency to individual effort.
Further, Taylor proposed an award and punishment system to incentivize efficient practice. Employees who adapted to efficient techniques were rewarded as a result of higher productivity. Employees who were unable or unwilling to adapt were punished.
Taylorism, can be summarized as follows:
- Use the scientific method in planning activities – replace any existing practices or rules of thumb;
- Separate the planning function from the actual work activity;
- Standardize the process, time, equipment, and costs across all processes;
- Workers must be selected and appropriately trained for his/her respective role;
- Time, motion and fatigue figures should be employed to determine the allocation of effort between workers;
- Cooperate with or facilitate workers in the execution of their responsibilities;
- Work must have functional supervisors who have the knowledge to oversee the respective field of work;
- Responsibilities should be specifically allocated between workers and managers;
- Provide financing incentives as motivation for employee productivity increases.
As you can imagine, this system is based upon principles of comparative advantage. Individuals are prepared to perform specific tasks as part of a greater process. This specialization allows for greater efficiency.
The overriding principles of scientific management are that:
- Each part of an individual’s work is analyzed ‘scientifically’, and the most efficient method for undertaking the job is devised; the ‘one best way’ of working. This consists of examining the implements needed to carry out the work, and measuring the maximum amount a ‘first-class’ worker could do in a day; workers are then expected to do this much work every day;
- The most suitable person to undertake the job is chosen, again ‘scientifically’. The individual is taught to do the job in the exact way devised. Everyone, according to Taylor, had the ability to be ‘first-class’ at some job. It was management’s role to find out which job suited each employee and train them until they were first-class;
- Managers must cooperate with workers to ensure the job is done in the scientific way;
- There is a clear ‘division’ of work and responsibility between management and workers. Managers concern themselves with the planning and supervision of the work, and workers carry it out.
Scientific management can be summarized in four main principles:
- Using scientific methods to determine and standardize the one best way of doing a job;
- A clear division of tasks and responsibilities;
- High pay for high-performing employees;
- A hierarchy of authority and strict surveillance of employees.
Taylor summed up the differences between his principles of management and the traditional method thus:
Under the management of ‘initiative and incentive’ practically the whole problem is ‘up to the workman’ while under the scientific management fully one-half of the problems are ‘up to the management’. The principle object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.
He could justify his actions and methods because his long-term goal he felt would lead to ‘…diminution of poverty, and the alleviation of suffering.’
His main reason for developing scientific management was that he wished to do away with ‘soldiering’ or ‘natural laziness’, as he believed that all workers spent little of their time putting in full efforts. To do this he aimed to analyze every job in a scientific way so that no one could be in any doubt about how much work could and should be done in a day.
Taylor was a man of his times and sought solutions to the problems of his times. However, many of his ideas remain relevant to the modern day and have inspired further innovations. Three in particular, taken from The Principles of Scientific Management, stand out:
‘A reward, if it is to be most effective in stimulating men to do their best work, must come soon after the work has been done…The average workman must be able to measure what he has accomplished and clearly see his reward at the end of each day if he is to do his best.’ In Taylor’s view, it was pointless to involve the shopfloor workers in end-of-year profit sharing schemes.
The use of written documentation for each part of a worker’s job, inherent in scientific management, is strikingly prescient of the procedural documentation in use in the ISO 9000 series of quality standards:
In the case of a machine-shop which is managed under the modern system, detailed written instructions as to the best way of doing each piece of work are prepared in advance, by men in the planning department. These instructions represent the combined work of several men in the planning room, each of who has his own specialty, or function. The directions of all of these men, however, are written on a single instruction card, or sheet.
The main difference is that today’s best practice means involving staff in drawing up their own procedures.
Taylor proposed a form of incentive for employees to make suggestions if they felt an improvement could be made to either the method or the implement used to undertake a task. After analysis of the suggestion, and if it was introduced into the workplace, ‘The workman should be given the full credit for the improvement, and should be paid a cash premium as a reward for his ingenuity. In this way the true initiative of the workmen is better attained under scientific management than under the old individual plan.’
From Taylorism, we can find some significant functions. These functions positively help the administrators in their organization’s leading. Such as:
- According to the skills and abilities, an employee must be selected;
- Incentives and wages have to install for enhancing their output and encouraging them;
- Implemented those methods which are based on scientific tasks;
- Carefully observe eradicating interruptions when the plan runs;
- In an organization, leadership should develop and standard.
According to Taylor, we can find some important features in Scientific Management Theory. Here has described those important features. Such as:
Its principles apply to all kinds of organizations, business, non-business, all levels of management. Therefore, they are all-pervasive or universal.
Here available some flexible features. For example, dynamic guidelines, non-static rules, sufficient room for managerial discretion, Modification, and improvement.
Cause & Effect Relationship
It indicates what will be the result of particular actions. So, if one is known, the other can be detected.
Aims at Influencing Human Behavior
Human behavior is not simple and predictable. It always tries to deal with human behavior so that employees can be able to give the best result.
To achieve the organization’s goal, we have to prioritize all things. These principles are the best examples of equal importance.
Scientific Selection, Training, and Development of Workers
In the organization, workers must select, train, and develop through the scientific way.
Equal Division of Responsibility between Management and Workers
Each business environment has to ensure an equal division of responsibility between management and workers.
Principles of Scientific Management by Taylor:
F.W. Taylor or Fredrick Winslow Taylor, also known as the ‘Father of scientific management’ proved with his practical theories that a scientific method can be implemented to management. Taylor gave much concentration on the supervisory level of management and performance of managers and workers at an operational level. Let’s discuss in detail the five principles of management by F.W Taylor.
1. Science, not the Rule of Thumb
This rule focuses on increasing the efficiency of an organization through scientific analysis of work and not with the ‘Rule of Thumb’ method. Taylor believed that even a small activity like loading paper sheets into boxcars can be planned scientifically. This will save time and also human energy. This decision should be based on scientific analysis and cause and effect relationships rather than ‘Rule of Thumb’ where the decision is taken according to the manager’s personal judgment.
2. Harmony, Not Discord
Taylor indicated and believed that the relationship between the workers and management should be cordial and completely harmonious. Difference between the two will never be beneficial to either side. Management and workers should acknowledge and understand each other’s importance. Taylor also suggested the mental revolution for both management and workers to achieve total harmony.
3. Mental Revolution
This technique involves a shift of attitude of management and workers towards each other. Both should understand the value of each other and work with full participation and cooperation. The aim of both should be to improve and boost the profits of the organization. Mental Revolution demands a complete change in the outlook of both the workers and management; both should have a sense of togetherness.
4. Cooperation, not Individualism
It is similar to ‘Harmony, not discord’ and believes in mutual collaboration between workers and the management. Managers and workers should have mutual cooperation and confidence and a sense of goodwill. The main purpose is to substitute internal competition with cooperation.
5. Development of Every Person to his Greatest Efficiency
The effectiveness of a company also relies on the abilities and skills of its employees. Thus, implementing training, learning best practices and technology, is the scientific approach to brush up the employee skill. To assure that the training is given to the right employee, the right steps should be taken at the time of selection and recruiting candidates based on a scientific selection.
The major objectives of Frederick Taylor’s contribution to management; are the maximum improvement of workers. This improvement shows efficiency and effectiveness performance. Such development is the revolution in management procedure and employee’s actual performance.
If the procedures and scientific theory of management examples apply, it can hugely change the following things. For instance:
- Prevent the wastage of time;
- Reduce the cost of production;
- Secure the labor in the industry;
- Increase the efficiency of the workers;
- Develop the relationship between workers and managers.
Using the principles of scientific management in the workplace by following these steps:
1. Analyze work processes
You can help determine the most efficient way of completing a task by experimenting with several different methods to find out which method takes the least amount of time and the fewest steps to complete. Scientific management takes these findings and standardizes the most efficient way of doing the task, retraining employees as needed.
2. Define and delegate tasks
Instead of assigning one employee to do a variety of tasks or complete a project from start to finish, managers can break up complicated projects by assigning employees to one specific task. This will allow the employee to become efficient at completing their part of the project. The next step is assigned to the next employee until the project is completed.
3. Use employees’ skills and offer incentives
Company managers should strive to recognize employees’ skills and assign employees to tasks best suited to their talents so they can be as productive as possible. Managers can establish goals for productivity and provide bonuses or raises to high-performing employees who consistently meet or exceed those goals.
Managers and supervisors can also evaluate employees’ performance and provide feedback by conducting a performance review.
4. Establish a professional hierarchy
Ensuring that each employee understands what is expected of them and who to report to can help define a workplace’s hierarchy. Employees without supervisory roles should answer to their supervisors. Supervisors should report to company managers who answer to the company’s directors. The manager’s primary role is to establish the work process and spend their time training employees, planning and overseeing work while employees follow managers’ direction and complete tasks.
Importance of Scientific Management Theory in Office
Taylorism by Taylor is perfectly suitable in an office. It can dramatically change the office environment in a positive mode. So, every office should adopt this theory for its actual success. However, there are mentioned some important reasons why taken this theory in office. As for example:
- Planning or deciding the work in advance;
- Posting the right man for the right job at right time (Science, not the Rule of Thumb);
- Initiating of incentive or reward wage plan;
- Confirmation of ideal of performance;
- Advise the right development of work;
- The removal of de trop (not wanted) flow of work;
- The upgrade of the worker-management affair.
Scientific management theory is important because its approach to management is found in almost every official and organizational operation across the world. Its influence is also felt in general business practices such planning, process design, quality control, cost accounting and ergonomics. Your knowledge of the theory will give you a better understanding of official and organizational management. You will also understand how a leader or manager or administrator can use quantitative analysis, an examination of numbers and other measurable data, in management to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of official and organizational operations through science, not the rule of thumb.
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