The Application of Taylor’s Scientific Management Principles

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The objective of this essay is to scrutinise the intensity to which Taylor's Scientific Management Principles are present in modern organisations. Therefore, I will first bring to light the pre-emptive perception behind Taylor’s work and his theory of Scientific Management. Thenceforth, I will enunciate each specific Scientific Management Principles and proffer dissension that explain their pervasiveness in modern organisations, delineating the subjects with some examples. Subsequently, I will conclude by demonstrating the outcome premised on the erstwhile evaluation.

Scientific Management and Its Principles

In the last two decades of the 19th century, there was outburst of technological innovation and development of large-scale industrial organisations, mounting a progressive push against difficulties to harness human resources efficiently and effectively. A methodical management movement consisted by engineering backgrounds managers developed, in response to contemporary trend with the ambition of rational methods of managing and standardising the work process, to be able to utilise the ethic of their discipline to the industrial organisation. In this context, the Scientific Management was the product of 19th Century industrial revolution, based on the solutions of industrial practices given by Frederick Winslow Taylor. Scientific Management “equipped the methodical management movement with rational logical keystone” (Barley & Kunda, 1992: 369) and it has shown the tendency of the most widely used set of prevailing principles for developing manufacture (Rollinson, 2005: 10). Additionally, work exploration and blueprint have its roots in Scientific Management and are now a basic personnel practice in most of the world’s predominant companies (Bell & Martin, 2012: 107).

Scientific Management can be characterised as “an industrial dogma and an approach believed to negotiate with parallel problems as micromanaging, management’s arbitrariness, greed, and lack of control” (Guillen, 1994: 75). It consists of a series of devices, systems and directional preparations to boost the performance and velocity of industrial production, which comprises, among others, a timing work rule to enact a scientific check of “what constitutes a fair day’s work” (Taylor, 1911:49), bookkeeping and accounting systems, and methods to assess work load, as well as a regulatory bounty policy arranged by Gantt, a method for machine speed calculation by Barth and the discipline of motion study and all its divisions developed by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth. Scientific Management favours to establish work methods to give executive greater authority over the labour actions, that is, the transfer of achievement for bonus.

Taylor’s theory rests on the hypothesis that high pay is the primary and possibly the main thing that workers want to obtain for work. Taylor was convinced that since workers wanted high pay and managers gained maximum and managers obtained what they wanted (higher pay and maximum energy from them, this would lead to organisation’s increase capital and success. However, according to Wagner-Tsukamoto, pretentious managers abused the systems and bully workers. Consequently, in 1920 Scientific Management fame faded because of its deliberation as the science of exploitation. Subsequently, there was rise in critique and conflict to scientific management.

Five Principles of Scientific Management

I will demonstrate the pertinence of 5 principles of Scientific Management in modern management organisations.

  • Replacement of traditional old-fashioned working methods with newly developed scientific principles:

Taylor replaced the “rule of thumb” with the scientific principles by using scientific methods to achieve best results. He simplified the work by setting out the clear job descriptions and requirements for each worker, explaining how should it be completed in a certain given timeframe. Virtually, he confiscated that managers are able to identify the best possible plan to accomplish a duty with given labour that would help to gain maximum productivity. Adapted to new technologies and modern practices, Taylor’s standardisation and simplifications of tasks, and scientific enhancement of processes still exist in modern organisations.

Firstly, large organisations are often consisted of different operational departments to target productivity and to gain expertise, because the change in structure enables them to split the responsibilities and duties of the entire organisation into achievable sub-tasks and to delegate them to organisational departments that are responsible for their accomplishment. However, there is a risk of collapse to adjust when the organisation’s framework does not constitute comprehensive duties to examine its environment. Therefore, scientific management is a good option for small organisations, where there is less chances to react to change. This lack of adaptability, the primary flaw credited to the Fordism model was the key word for the development of Post-Fordism. However, core concepts of scientific management, disregarded under Fordism, were provided through the search of flexibility, through harnessing rationalist innovations.

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Secondly, workers repetitive duties are alienating them. Workers are practiced to become machines in most parts of their tasks to enhance and increase efficiency and profitability. Increase power to managers over workers, can result in abuse of power and poor quality of product. Example 1: When McDonald’s workers prepare a hamburger or when a call centre representative resolve a telephone query under pressure from a 90/10 protocol (a policy that requires 90 percent of all calls to be satisfied within 10 seconds and 90 percent of all queries to be resolved within 10 minutes).

  • Scientific selection of workers to achieve the set goals with maximum efficiency:

Taylor proposed that tasks should be allocated to suitable workers who can utilise their maximum physical and mental abilities to get the best possible result. Due to repetitive and tiresome nature of the allocated tasks as a result of extracting from the maximum production of an employee resulted in monotonous tasks, accurate recruitment of workers was needed (Rollinson, 2005: 10). Since World War I, Human Resource selection’s importance has developed greatly, and it has become a discipline in its own interest (Locke, 1982: 17). Further, most contemporary managers are more flexible in the training and development of new recruits (Locke, 1982: 17).

Hence, subsequent to Taylor’s concept, organisations make immense efforts to recruit the suitable employee for the available vacancy” and to develop their skills and train them according to the job needs (Mckinnon, 2010: 1). Example 1: Consulting firm human resource policies to encourage the managers to hire unexperienced staff with passion to learn and develop, so they can produce useful employees at a low cost (Babío et al, 2007: 50).

  • Train, teach and develop the worker to follow the procedures accurately:

This principle explains the assurance of the allocated work to be carried out according to the scientific methods. There are two ways to establish that the best effective procedures of working are being followed.

Monitor: To see if the employees are efficient in production

Cooperate: Managers to work collaboration with worker to help and remedy them to get the best results and to establish if they are following the exact efficient way to perform their duties.

The aftereffect of this principle was to change the organisation current structure. Having more managers will have a great impact on overall production of the organisation. Each of the managers will focus on a particular area of the company to achieve and gain the best results. The main purpose is to increase the production. Unlike in scenario where soldiering occurs, such as some situations where employees naturally relax because they are not being supervised.

  • Divide the actual work between management and workers (Rollinson, 2005: 9):

According to this principle, Taylor explains the need to separate the thinking from doing. He wanted that managers are to devise, govern, and develop the ways of process, while employees will execute the task according to the plan devised by managers as accurately and quickly possible Rollinson, 2005: 10. However, following this, organisations were considered as a place where growth was more essential, and where workers were regarded as a secondary factor to them (Burrell & Morgan, 1979: 127.). This led to hopelessness in workers as a result of dehumanizing employees and less job satisfaction (Morgan, 2006: 28).

  • Pay and incentives based on work done:

Taylor felt that workers should be paid based on how much productive they are. Taylor perceived that if the organisation is making more money, so employee should be given rise in their pay or incentives based on the work done. Taylor also concluded that workers that worker productively, should be given the reward (Bell & Matin 2012). Beyond the five principles, there are alternative tendencies pertinent to the element and influential to observe. The 1st and 2nd principle can be characterised, respectively, as “an exhaustive, organisation-wide achievement that is a unified and cross functional source of developing the quality of produce and business and of sustaining competitive advantage” (Holmann et al, 2005: 2). The 3rd and 4th principle can be characterised as “a unified rule of manufacture with a sole production rate that is pulled by the consumer and priority on small batch manufacture, team work based and involvement, to eradicate non-value-adding activities and uncertainty and it is an operation where managers, and employee work together to analyse the standard set goals, determine every individual’s main responsibility, and utilise these assessments as pilot for managing the system and analysing the input each of its representatives” (Kondrasuk, 1981, citing Odiorne, 1979).


To summing up, the principles of Taylor’s Scientific Management are present to a great degree in prevailing management organizational practices, and as it can be inferred from my prior assertion. These principles are so profoundly entrenched in our understanding of work organisation that it is absolutely difficult to classify and separate them from current managerial practices. Even though Scientific Management can be considered useless because of its inflexibility to react to changes generated by technology, competition, and international trade agreements, most of his insights are still valid today, as they “remain relevant to everyday business operations. Nonetheless, as management models are endorsed to work only when corporate assets cooperate with them (Guillen, 1994: 75), managers should learn and understand Taylor’s principle because of their influence in modern organization, but try not to utilize time to their full extent.

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