Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor was born in 1856 and schooled at Phillips Academy in New Hampshire, before enrolling at the Harvard University. He later left Harvard to do apprenticeship in machinery before joining a steel company in Midvale, where he rose to become a steel expert. He made various steel-tool discoveries, including the Taylor-White process, which still makes him famous today. While still working at the Steel Company, Winslow’s observational skills led him to make further discoveries, this time, these were human-based. He developed philosophies based on shop-management, earning him the title, “Father of Scientific Management.”
In the steel company, Winslow had noted a trend among the workers. He noticed that some of the workers were lazy, and not working to their abilities. This had a negative effect on the output of work, therefore reducing the company productivity. This compelled Winslow to develop a task management system, which he used to handle work in an objective manner and determine the efficiency and productivity of work in the company. This idea bore Winslow’s Principles of Scientific Management (NetMBA; “Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915)”).
In 1911, Fredrick Taylor published his work, The Principles of Scientific Management. Taylor developed four principles to apply to work. This was after spending years doing different experiments to prove his principles. In the first principle, Taylor recommended that the rule-of-thumbs method in work, be replaced with new methods that employed scientific study of different work. His second principle suggested that training of workers should not be left to be their individual responsibility. However, this responsibility should be left to the managers who should recruit, train, and ensure the active personal development of the workers, while ensuring the use of scientific methods. In the third principle, Taylor suggested that company management should perform a follow-up on the workers through their supervision, in order to ensure that the workers adhere to the prescribed methods, which are scientifically oriented. In the last principle, Taylor recommended that the company workload should be equally distributed between the employers and the workers. However, the employer, who is the manager, will be charged with work involving scientific management of the company in planning work, while the employees are tasked with executing the tasks. Taylor’s scientific principles of management aimed at increasing productivity and efficiency of work. Instead of apprenticeship, scientific management called for segmentation of work into different parts that could be performed by different unskilled people after short trainings (Daft, 2009; Taylor, 2003; Taylor, 1947).
Taylor developed the term soldering to refer to the underperformance of workers, which he linked to the workers’ belief that if they work effectively, some of them risked losing their jobs. Underperformance of workers was also because of the poor wages they were subjected to. Employees therefore felt that effectiveness in their work would result in exploitation, as wages were not paid according to the workload performed. Finally, the rule-of-thumb method of working employed by workers was less effective as it resulted in low work output.
In his time studies, Taylor believed that every work type could be planned properly to increase its productivity. He however thought that his scientific management was more effective as compared to the old “initiative and incentive” method, which was used to motivate workers. His arguments were that, in the initiative and incentive method, the workers were only motivated and increased productivity, but the whole responsibility of planning and executing work was wholly left for them to perform. On the other hand, the scientific management method provided the opportunity for both work productivity and work planning to be performed in the best ways by the management.
A similar theory of management, which is highly used in contemporary corporations, is the Competing Values Framework, which was coined by Quinn. In this theory, conflicting values in an organization are put into context on how they can be appreciated and integrated in an organization harmoniously to result in company growth and productivity. This model is concerned with to deal with the need for successful leadership, increased effectiveness in companies and increased value creation. It is concerned with the underlying relations in the organization. These are; culture, motivation, leadership, learning, creativity, cognitive processes, and decision-making (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). This model draws from the scientific management model in different ways. First, they all advocate for motivation. Taylor argued that paying the job done, and not the worker, would motivate employees. Quinn also lists motivation as an organizational factor that can boost performance. Quinn regards efficient internal relations as a factor in organizational culture, which can boost performance. However, Taylor’s model does not support teamwork among workers as work is broken down for each worker to perform individually. Another aspect in Taylor’s model, which does not fit in Quinn’s model, is the flexibility and adaptability factor, which lacks in Taylor’s model. Nonetheless, these two models are vital, but their success depends on how they are implemented in a company, as well as the nature of the company (Buchman & Huczynski, 2010; Cameron, 2006).
These scientific principles of management by Taylor were highly welcomed by factories and companies back them, who adopted them as their management strategy. The principles turned out to be effective as the productivity of factories and companies then skyrocketed. An influential company that adopted this and so it successful was the Henry Ford automobiles. Taylor’s scientific management principles were consequently employed in house chores as these increased the work productivity and speed at which jobs are done. It is a fact that the scientific management principles increased work productivity and output in companies, and generally had a positive impact. However, this management method has its drawbacks, which were realized in the past and even today. This method leads to increased monotony of work. This is because of its lack of important elements of a job, which include skill variety, autonomy, identity of work, importance of work, and feedback. During the period when scientific management was highly employed, some workers disputed the method, and took into the streets in protest of the use of stopwatches, which they claimed was dehumanizing. Scientific management was then nicknamed “Taylorism.” Nonetheless, scientific management by Taylor is a very influential management method, which has led to great changes in the work industry, increasing productivity and efficiency, even as some companies today still embrace this method.
Scientific management model is criticized for its high specialization, which leads to monotony. In addition, when work is broken down into small steps to be handled by individual employees, teamwork is discouraged, thereby reducing the employee levels of interaction and exchange of skills. Taylorism also does not allow for diversification in the management process. This kind of rigidity makes a company to miss other important management processes. Finally, Taylorism puts a demarcation between mental work and manual work. This limits employees’ chances of skill diversification, which is detrimental to the productivity of a company. Nonetheless, Taylorism remains as a model that changed company management by incorporating training procedures, and systematic management. This laid the foundation for other management models used today.
NetMBA Fredrick Taylor and Scientific Management <
“Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915)” <http://www.eldritchpress.org/fwt/taylor.html>
Buchman, D, & Huczynski, A 2010, Organizational behavior, Pearson. London.
Cameron, K 2006 Competing Values Leadership: Creating Value in Organizations. Edward
Elgar Publishing, London.
Cameron, K, and Quinn, R 2011 Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on
the Competing Values Framework. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Daft, R 2009, Organization Theory and Design. Cengage Learning, London.
Daft, R, and Marcic, D 2010, Understanding Management, Cengage Learning, London.
Taylor, F 2003, Scientific Management: The Early Sociology of Management and Organizations, Reprint, Routledge, Cambridge.
Taylor, F 1947, The Principles of Scientific Management, Elibron Classics, London.
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