Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management and the Implications for Contemporary Management Practice

Essay 2010 5 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance


IRHR1001 Essay 1 - Taylor’s theory of Scientific Management and the implications for contemporary management practice

When Frederick Winslow Taylor established his theory of Scientific Management in the late nineteenth century, its system promised a revolution of the labor market. Business was received and successfully transferred of many immediately, especially in the automotive industry by Ford at the beginning of the 20th century. In the second half of this century however it became increasingly criticised by Taylorism, due to it lacking flexibility and inhumanity. Thereupon more modern operational rationalisation methods were developed, that wanted to drop themselves of Taylorism. Nevertheless the essay will show that academic and managerial interests in scientific management have not declined since Taylor proposed them. This may attest a kind of reference for him being one of the foundation fathers of management studies (Roper, 1999).

Taylor’s main purpose was to increase productivity of the human work with a scientific approach. "Prerequisites for that are the separation of head and handwork, expropriation and systematic collection of the dexterities and the knowledge of the worker, becoming independent of the disposition functions respectively control functions and methodical forms of the work analysis" (Kocyba, Schumm, 2002). The achievement of the worker should be optimized by the systematic inspection of each side of management. According to Taylor’s experience the workers had technologies of the achievement restraint, i.e. they worked, but not efficiently and not to their full potential (Wrege, Hodgetts, 2000). Frederick W. Taylor wanted to suppress this to the advantage of the management and workers. If someone exactly would prescribe them how to carry out their work precisely, their performance would be enhanced in his opinion. After his direction, management received analysis and planning of the work process in order to develop the best way of mastering the work. Thus, the workers had no intellectual work to settle and were eventually only the exporting organ for the specification of the management. They performed respectively only a small step in order to be as fast as possible and productive (Taksa, 1994). In order to increase its output, Taylor used an achievement wage system as a motivation factor. In addition, if the businesses became larger, there had to be integrated further departments such as administrations and offices around the division of labor for managing the organisation more effectively (Wrege, Hodgetts, 2000). In summary it can be said, that the most important objectives that Taylor set out were the systematising observation, measurement as well as an optimisation of the achievement result related standardisation. Moreover the standardisations of labor force, work organisation, work technology and the construction of work planning and work preparation area preliminary for production (Beckenbach, 1991).

Although its theory of scientific management is over 120 years old, Taylor’s model proved to be very successful. It was received in the following decades in numerous American businesses and increasingly also overseas. The introduction of machines and assembly lines accelerated at the beginning of the 20th century not only the work, the workers had to adapt themselves moreover to the machine processes. Especially well known for its successful assembly line work were Henry Ford and his Model T. He sought influence to develop assembly line work and drastic division of labor with unqualified workers. As Taylor depicts the work was divided correspondingly, into single small steps, corresponding to an exact timetable. The progress in the technology was utilized by Ford and included into the manufacture of its automobiles (Rao, 2009). Henry Ford saw the business management centered into the hands of the firm leader. It was patriarchal for the entire business and absolutely responsible for its success. Ford moreover supplemented on Taylor in receiving its strict control measures. He paid high wages and introduced a workday of eight hours. Therewith Ford’s company provided for an optimal business partnership. The term ‘Fordism’ describes a result of the combination of Taylorism and the fluent fabrication of measured goods. The humaneness was promoted through the reduced workday and social achievements of sides of the business (Kocyba, Schumm, 2002).

Another example of Frederick W. Taylor’s influence is the automobile group Toyota. In the second half of the 20th century they developed new ways of automobile production. It was Toyota’s final purpose to produce a larger product diversification, i.e. large product volumes in high variety. This was in contrast to Taylorism that concentrated on high product volume with little or no product variety. Because of this Toyota required optimal coordination and flexibility. The workers were divided in teams and used for several steps of production. Nevertheless the Toyota system was still a further development and/or modification of the Taylorism. The management was the leading hand and responsible for all processes, it had to precisely plan all steps in order to guarantee the effectiveness. Rationalisation and division of labor always took precedence and are a general echo to Taylor’s first principle of scientific management. (Hales, 1994)



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University of Newcastle
Taylor Taylorism Scientific management Englisch



Title: Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management and the Implications for Contemporary Management Practice